When President Obama's November trip to Asia did not immediately result in a trade agreement with South Korea, Fox News' top pundits Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity were quick to paint the entire tour as a failure. Now that Obama has secured the trade deal, both O'Reilly and Hannity have ignored the achievement.
O'Reilly, Hannity Assailed Obama Trip To Asia As A Failure
Wash. Post: U.S.-South Korea Negotiations Faltered Because Of "Domestic Political Concerns." In an article about Obama's trip to South Korea, The Washington Post reported:
Negotiations over a U.S.-Korea free-trade agreement faltered Thursday after four days of discussions, a setback for the leaders of the two nations and a blow to efforts to rekindle broader world trade talks.
White House officials said the discussions foundered over long-standing disagreements over U.S. access to the Korean auto and beef markets.
Despite optimism from both sides as they began bargaining, domestic political concerns weighed heavily on the talks and ultimately appeared to have prevented the final compromises needed to secure an agreement.
The two sides pledged to continue the discussion, and said that they had made progress in recent days toward narrowing disagreements. [The Washington Post, 11/11/10]
O'Reilly On Obama Asia Trip: "It Tells Me That The World Leaders Feel That This Is A Weakened President." On his Fox News show, O'Reilly said:
O'REILLY: I felt sorry for Barack Obama, and let's be honest, when he was in Asia 'cause he didn't get what we needed. We didn't get the Korean trade agreement. He didn't get the Chinese to stop, you know, flouncing around their currency. And what it tells me -- and you're in a position to correct me if I'm wrong here, Hume, and I expect you to do that.
It tells me that the world leaders feel that this is a weakened president. They don't have any incentive to do business with Barack Obama the way he is now inside this country. That's what that told me. [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 11/15/10, via Nexis]
Hannity Described Obama's Trip As "Disastrous." Discussing the Asia trip, Hannity stated: "Just days after returning from a disastrous trip to Asia, President Obama slated to depart for Europe later this week." [Hannity, 11/16/10, via Nexis]
Hannity: The Trip To Asia Was "A Complete And Utter Waste Of Time And Your Taxpayer Dollars." On his show, Hannity listed Obama's Asia trip among events that he claimed would make the month "not ... a November to remember for President Barack Obama." Hannity continued: "Now earlier this month, his party suffered historic losses in the midterm elections. His recent trip to Asia can be summed up as a complete and utter waste of time and your taxpayer dollars." [Hannity, 11/18/10, via Nexis]
O'Reilly, Hannity Silent On What Would Be "Largest" Trade Deal Since NAFTA
Wash. Post: "U.S., South Korea Complete Free-Trade Deal." In an article headlined, "U.S., South Korea complete free-trade deal," the Post reported:
U.S. and South Korean negotiators agreed Friday to a free-trade deal that the Obama administration hopes will increase American exports by billions of dollars annually and create momentum for a broader push on free trade in 2011.
The pact is the administration's first major foray into the arena of free-trade politics, and officials said it may be followed by efforts to have Congress approve pending deals with Panama and Colombia, and reinvigorate the larger Doha round of global trade talks.
The deal marks a victory for President Obama, who was widely criticized after failing to secure the pact during his Asia trip after last month's midterm elections.
"Today's agreement is an integral part of my Administration's efforts to open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services, create jobs for American workers, farmers and businesses, and achieve our goal of doubling of U.S. exports over five years," Obama said in a statement Friday night.
The South Korea agreement was first negotiated by the George W. Bush administration, but during follow-up negotiations the Obama administration won further concessions considered important to American automakers. Those include a slower reduction of U.S. tariffs on imported South Korean vehicles and a provision under which South Korea will exempt up to 25,000 of any American company's cars from its strict safety standards, as long as they meet similar U.S. regulations. [The Washington Post, 12/03/10]
AP: Trade Deal "Would Be The Largest Since The North American Free Trade Agreement." The Associated Press reported:
The pact, which requires congressional approval, would be the largest since the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico in 1994. Obama said the South Korean deal would support at least 70,000 American jobs -- welcome news with the latest unemployment figures showing nearly stagnant job growth. The president said that jobs report showed more needed to be done.
"Essential to that is opening new markets around the world to products that are made in America," Obama said. "Because we don't simply want to be an economy that consumes other countries' goods."
He said U.S. automakers would gain greater access to the expanding South Korean market. "It will continue to ensure a level playing field for American automakers here at home," he added.
Exports of U.S. goods to South Korea could soar to $10 billion under the deal, which won rare praise for Obama from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as some Republicans. The pact originally was negotiated under George W. Bush's administration but had stalled. [Associated Press, 12/04/10]
O'Reilly, Hannity Have Not Mentioned Trade Deal. On the December 6 edition of their respective Fox News programs, neither Hannity nor O'Reilly mentioned the trade deal.