Fox News is hyping non-controversial comments by President Obama to suggest that he is a closet extremist.
Echoing an attack by Mitt Romney, several Fox personalities attacked Obama for saying in 1998 that he supports government spending in order to "make sure that everybody's got a shot." These Fox personalities suggested that Obama's views were more troubling than Mitt Romney's disparagement of the 47 percent of Americans he says are "dependent upon government."
But as The Washington Post's Greg Sargent pointed out, Obama's comments are completely uncontroversial. Indeed, even Romney said yesterday that he believes in "government caring for those in need." Sargent explained:
Maybe someone can explain how we can pay for "government caring for those in need" without "taking from some to give to others." How do you pay for a safety net without redistribution? (Behind closed doors, of course, Romney is far harsher about "those in need.")
Here is the full 1998 Obama quote that Romney and Republicans are casting as pro "redistribution":
"The trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution. Because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot."
In other words, this is not meaningfully different from what Obama has said thousands of times.
But Fox nevertheless eagerly jumped on the Romney talking point that Obama is an extremist who supports redistribution.
On his Fox show, Sean Hannity claimed that Obama went "off teleprompter" in the video cited by Romney "admitting that in fact he believes in redistribution of wealth." Hannity called this supposed revelation a "key point in this campaign."
In a phone interview during On the Record, frequent Fox guest Donald Trump claimed he was not surprised by the video because redistribution is "his basic mindset."
Today, in a tease of a segment covering Obama's 14 year old comments, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson suggested Obama was making the point that "the best way to create wealth is to spread it around," before playing a cropped clip of Obama's saying he "believes in redistribution."
And on his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs attempted to justify Romney's 47 percent remarks. He followed by claiming that Obama's response to the supposedly high tax burden on the higher earners is to "squawk about redistribution and fairness."