Fox News' Jon Scott asked if "the president's upcoming trip [to Europe and the Middle East will] be what conservatives might call another apology tour," and both Scott and co-host Jane Skinner aired cropped clips of President Obama's remarks from an April 3 speech in France to falsely suggest that Obama only criticized the United States.
During a June 2 segment on Fox News' Happening Now in which co-host Jon Scott asked if "the president's upcoming trip [to Europe and the Middle East will] be what conservatives might call another apology tour," both Scott and co-host Jane Skinner aired cropped clips of President Obama's remarks from an April 3 speech in Strasbourg, France, to falsely suggest that Obama only criticized the United States. In fact, during his speech, he also praised it and criticized European anti-Americanism. As Media Matters for America has documented, several Fox hosts and guests, as well as the Fox Nation website, have cropped or misrepresented Obama's Strasbourg remarks to falsely suggest, in the words of host Sean Hannity, that Obama was "blam[ing] America first" and, more broadly, that Obama's earlier overseas trip constituted an "apology tour."
Teasing Scott's segment, Skinner said: "President Obama is getting ready for a big trip overseas, a major policy speech in Egypt," and aired a cropped quote from Obama's Strasbourg speech:
OBAMA: There is plenty of blame to go around for what has happened. The United States certainly shares its, shares blame for what has happened.
She then asserted: "Sharing blame -- some are asking if the president's trip this week will be an apology tour." On-screen text during Skinner's remarks advanced the "apology tour" smear:
Minutes later, Scott similarly noted Obama's upcoming overseas trip, and aired a different cropped quote from his Strasbourg speech:
OBAMA: In America there is a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
Scott then asked guest Heather Hurlburt, former speechwriter for Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher: "[W]hen the president speaks about American arrogance, that might play well overseas, but how does it play in this country?" Scott also asked Hurlburt, "[Y]ou think that that kind of talk is a positive?" During the interview, on-screen text again advanced the "apology tour" smear:
Another on-screen graphic, dubbed a "FOXfact," highlighted Obama's "arrogance" remark:
However, at no point did either Scott or Skinner note that Obama also criticized Europe and praised America during his Strasbourg remarks. Indeed, immediately after the part of the speech Scott aired, Obama criticized anti-Americanism in Europe as well as Europeans who "choose to blame America for much of what's bad" and referred to "the good that America so often does in the world."
From Obama's April 3 speech in Strasbourg:
Now, there's plenty of blame to go around for what has happened, and the United States certainly shares its -- shares blame for what has happened. But every nation bears responsibility for what lies ahead, especially now, for whether it's the recession or climate change, or terrorism, or drug trafficking, poverty, or the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we have learned that without a doubt there's no quarter of the globe that can wall itself off from the threats of the 21st century.
Such an effort is never easy. It's always harder to forge true partnerships and sturdy alliances than to act alone, or to wait for the action of somebody else. It's more difficult to break down walls of division than to simply allow our differences to build and our resentments to fester. So we must be honest with ourselves. In recent years we've allowed our Alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship. In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad.
On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.
So I've come to Europe this week to renew our partnership, one in which America listens and learns from our friends and allies, but where our friends and allies bear their share of the burden. Together, we must forge common solutions to our common problems.
So let me say this as clearly as I can: America is changing, but it cannot be America alone that changes. We are confronting the greatest economic crisis since World War II. The only way to confront this unprecedented crisis is through unprecedented coordination.
From the June 2 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
SKINNER: President Obama is getting ready for a big trip overseas, a major policy speech in Egypt. You may remember this comment from his recent trip to France.
OBAMA [video clip]: There is plenty of blame to go around for what has happened. And the United States certainly shares its -- shares blame for what has happened.
SKINNER: Sharing blame -- some are asking if the president's trip this week will be an apology tour. A fair and balanced debate is coming your way.
SCOTT: President Obama is getting ready for a major overseas trip. He's leaving for the Middle East and Europe tonight, but if past performances are an indication, this could be a controversial move. Take a listen.
OBAMA [video clip]: In America there is a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
SCOTT: So will the president's upcoming trip be what conservatives might call another apology tour? Joining us now for a fair and balanced debate, Heather Hurlburt -- she is a former speechwriter for Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher.
Also with us, Elliott Abrams -- he is the former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Heather, when the president speaks about American arrogance -- I mean, that might play well overseas, but how does it play in this country?
HURLBURT: Well, I'm not really worried about how it plays in this country. What I think is going to make a difference is what the president does. And what Americans see the president doing is reaching out to reset our relationships with Europe and Muslim countries and -- on a more productive foundation where we can fight terrorism and do the other things we need to do together. And that's what I think will happen on this trip, and that's what Americans will care about.
SCOTT: So you think that that kind of talk is a positive?
HURLBURT: I just don't really worry about it. I think the people who need to be worried about apologizing are the folks who brought us the failed war in Iraq, neglected war in Afghanistan, elections that brought us a Hamas government in Palestine, regression on human rights in Egypt, and they can worry about apologizing, and we'll let the president worry about better foreign policy.
SCOTT: Elliott Abrams, it sounds like she's talking about you and your former boss, the former President George W. Bush. What do you -- how do you respond?
ABRAMS: The president needs to stop apologizing for our country, and he needs to stop addressing all the world's Muslims as if the only thing that mattered was their religion. He shouldn't be giving this speech in Egypt at all -- it's a very repressive government. He shouldn't be speaking to the world's Muslims from an Arab country, because 80 percent of the world's Muslims are not Arabs, and he really shouldn't be addressing them as Muslims at all.
It's an Al Qaeda argument that the only thing that matters is that they are Muslims. It's an American argument, or it ought to be, that we judge people as individuals; we care about the variety that separates them, we care about their freedom as individuals. We don't just address them as Muslims. I mean, what's he gonna do next? Go give a speech to the world's Roman Catholics or the world's Buddhists? This is not a smart thing to do.
SCOTT: It's true, Heather, that he is not visiting Israel on this trip. He's gonna be in the Middle East -- he's gonna be in, you know, Saudi Arabia, in Egypt, and so forth. Why not visit Israel?
HURLBURT: Well, of course, Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu was just here visiting the White House and came out and said at the end we had a very good meeting, we share the same goals, we share the same fears, so I think that relationship is in a very strong place. The relationships with Egyptians and Saudis and other people are in a less good place, and the president is very wisely trying to shore up his bases where they're weak and build on his bases where they're strong.
And, by the way, Republicans thought it was fine for Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice to give a speech in Egypt in 2005 when the government was as repressive as it is now, so I'm surprised that what was good enough for Republicans isn't good enough for Democrats.
SCOTT: Go ahead, Elliott.
ABRAMS: Let's exactly see what the president says. Secretary Rice gave a speech at the American University in Cairo in which she called upon the government of Egypt to allow freedom and democracy. Let's see if President Obama goes to Cairo and gives that kind of speech. If he does, he ought to be applauded.
I am very -- I think it' s very unlikely that he is going to come out strongly and criticize the government of President [Hosni] Mubarak. I wish he would, because what the people of Egypt want to hear is not apologies for America. They want to hear him say he's on their side in their search for freedom and for justice.
SCOTT: He has talked about the need for the rule of law, for democracy, Heather. Is that a speech that he should give in Egypt?
HURLBURT: I feel very confident that the speech he is going to give in Egypt is going to, first of all, show America to the rest of the world as a country where Muslims are welcome, where Muslims live wonderful, productive lives and even grow up to have their relatives in the White House. So I think it's going to be a speech that's very high on America, first of all.
Second, I think it is going to be a speech that reaches out to the aspirations of people in Egypt and other countries around the world, but doesn't fall into the trap that I think the Bush administration did of talking a very good game about democracy in Egypt and other places and then actually doing nothing about it.
And, you know, Secretary Rice gave that speech, and then there were horrible elections and, frankly, repression in Egypt has increased a lot. The Bush administration did nothing. So as Obama and his administration have said, we want to talk less about democracy and do more. And that's what I am hoping to see.
SCOTT: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Elliott, I owe you the last word next time. We'll certainly be watching the president's speeches as he travels the world.