Kurtz claimed he "didn't see anyone reporting that Obama wanted to invade Pakistan"

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

In the August 8 edition of his column, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz noted Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) August 6 statement that he "never called for an invasion of Pakistan" in his August 1 foreign policy speech and that "the misreporting that was done needs to be cleared up." Kurtz described Obama as "blaming the media" and responded: "I sure didn't see anyone reporting that Obama wanted to invade Pakistan." Kurtz continued: "I read that he would be willing to conduct raids against al-Qaeda without necessarily getting permission from Pakistan's sovereign government." In fact, numerous media outlets have reported that Obama, in the August 1 speech, stated that he was willing to "invade Pakistan."

During the speech, Obama asserted that "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets [in Pakistan] and President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will," but he did not elaborate on the nature of this action:

OBAMA: As president, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an Al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.

And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my administration will increase America's commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists' program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair -- our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally.

During an August 6 campaign appearance in Iowa, an audience member asked Obama about his Pakistan comments, and Obama responded, "The misreporting that was done needs to be cleared up. I never called for an invasion of Pakistan."

Despite Kurtz's suggestion to the contrary, numerous media outlets reported that Obama said he intended or was willing to "invade" Pakistan, including ABC News, CBS News, several major newspapers, MSNBC, Fox News, and columns in The Weekly Standard and the New York Post.

Network news broadcasts

  • During the August 1 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, reporting on "some exclusive excerpts and comments" from Obama's speech obtained by ABC News, senior national correspondent Jake Tapper asserted that "Obama will make extraordinary remarks about what he would do to combat terrorism, going so far as to invade Pakistan." In response to Obama's August 6 remarks regarding the media coverage of his speech, Tapper acknowledged in an August 7 post on his "Political Punch" blog that Obama did not use the word "invade" in the August 1 speech. In the blog post, Tapper reported that had emailed ABC News national security analyst Anthony H. Cordesman to determine whether "the media (and I) overstate[d] the case by using the term 'invade.' " Tapper wrote that Cordesman, "told me that Obama is correct, what he's talking about militarily would not be considered an invasion." During the August 1 Good Morning America segment, an on-screen caption read: "Would Obama Invade Pakistan? Stronger Stance Than White House." As Media Matters for America has documented, President Bush has in fact said alternately within a five-day period in September 2006 that he would respect Pakistan's sovereignty and that he "absolutely" would go after Al Qaeda in Pakistan if necessary even over Pakistan's objections.
  • On the August 5 edition of ABC's World News Sunday, ABC News correspondent John Berman reported that during the August 5 Republican presidential debate, there was "general scorn for the Democrats, particularly Barack Obama and his recent comments that he would meet with controversial foreign leaders and be willing to invade Pakistan to fight terrorism." Berman's statement was rebroadcast on the August 6 edition of Good Morning America.
  • On the August 1 edition of CBS Evening News, CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson asserted that during Obama's speech, he said he would "possibly even invade the U.S. ally Pakistan."
  • On the August 5 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer claimed that in Obama's speech, he said that "if he discovered there were high-value targets in that area, in what has become this safe haven, and Pakistan wasn't willing to do anything about it, he would invade Pakistan and do something about it." Schieffer then asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "What's your reaction to that?"

Major newspapers

  • In an August 2 article on Obama's speech, the Los Angeles Times reported that Obama said that "the United States should reserve the right to invade the territory of its Pakistani allies and withdraw U.S. financial aid if it believed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was failing to do enough to stop terrorists."
  • The New York Post reported August 2 that Obama "warned yesterday that he would use American forces to invade U.S. ally Pakistan if its leaders weren't doing enough to catch terrorists on their soil."
  • An August 3 article in The Washington Times reported that during his speech, Obama "said he would invade an ally, Pakistan, if its leaders are not helpful enough in the war on terror."

Cable news programs

  • On the August 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke asserted that with regard to Pakistan, Obama's speech was "Bush-heavy." He continued: "This is willingness to invade another country."
  • On the August 3 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson said that "Obama suggested we invade Pakistan, this week. He's a loser."
  • On the August 4 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys, Kondracke said that Obama is "not ready for prime time" because he "declared that he might invade the territory of an ally, Pakistan."
  • On the August 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity claimed that Obama "made a rookie mistake" by saying "I'll invade an ally." After co-host Alan Colmes noted that Obama "didn't really say it quite that way," Hannity asserted: "No, he actually did." Colmes replied, "He said that if we have actionable intelligence and Musharraf does not act, I will then take action." Colmes concluded: "[T]here's a little more nuance than I think has been presented in the media."
  • On the August 2 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, former congressman and Win Without War national director Tom Andrews (D-ME) stated that Obama "said he would take action. What does that mean? Does that mean he's going to invade Pakistan? I don't think so." Host Tucker Carlson responded, "That's what he said. ... He's going to send troops. What's the difference between sending troops and invading? Umm, let's see, nothing."

Columns/editorials

  • In his August 3 New York Post column, John Podhoretz wrote that in his August 1 speech, Obama "basically promised that, as president, he would invade Pakistan."
  • In his August 3 column, New York Post D.C. bureau chief Charles Hurt reported that "in a prepared speech, Obama publicly threatened to invade Pakistan, a key -- and already teetering -- ally in the war on terror" [emphasis in original].He referred to this as a "diplo-disaster."
  • In an August 13 editorial in The Weekly Standard, currently available online, editor William Kristol wrote that July "ended in retreat" for opponents of the Iraq war, in part because during his August 1 speech, "Barack Obama, losing ground to Hillary Clinton because he seemed naive about real world threats, frantically suggest[ed] that he would invade Pakistan."

From Kurtz's August 8 Washington Post column:

Obama is now blaming the media, according to Politico:

"When Obama's big terrorism speech last week made headlines for its threat of military action in Pakistan, and won plaudits for its meatiness and detail, I wondered whether the main impression America would get from it would be that he's a fresh voice on foreign policy; or that he wants to invade Pakistan.

"Judging from two appearances in Western Iowa yesterday, the latter seems to have come across pretty clearly. Obama responded with criticism of the media, and an extended restatement of his five-part plan, after the second question, in Sioux City 'in regards to the invasion of Afghanistan and Pakistan.'

"'The misreporting that was done needs to be cleared up,' Obama said. 'I never called for an invasion of Pakistan.' "

I sure didn't see anyone reporting that Obama wanted to invade Pakistan. I read that he would be willing to conduct raids against al-Qaeda without necessarily getting permission from Pakistan's sovereign government. Mitt Romney did say, with great hyperbole, at Sunday's debate that Obama was going to "bomb our allies," but I don't think you can blame that on the press.

From the August 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: You know what's fascinating about this, and if we can get -- if we get Frank -- hang on, we'll hopefully get you back here. I think it's very interesting to me that Barack Obama, in my opinion, exposed his real inexperience here, though, last week.

It all started with the YouTube debate. The next day, [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton (D-NY)] says he's naive and irresponsible on foreign affairs, because he'd sit down without preconditions with [Cuban President Fidel] Castro and [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and [North Korean Leader] Kim Jong-Il, and fascinating to me, he's got to bolster up those credentials. In other words, he reacted to her, and then he came out with -- I think he made a novice mistake -- I'll invade an ally, which was foolish.

COLMES: Well, he didn't really say it quite that way, Sean.

HANNITY: No, he actually did.

COLMES: He said that if we have actionable intelligence and Musharraf does not act, I will then take action. He was not his - as [Former Gov. Mitt] Romney [R-MA] said, "I'm going to bomb them. I'm going to go after the ally." And there's a little more nuance than I think has been presented in the media.

From the August 6 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (guest host): We're gonna get to the frontrunner in Iowa in just a minute, that's Mitt Romney. But right now, but first, we're gonna go to ABC's John Berman for a wrap-up of the debate. He was out there in Iowa with us yesterday.

ROMNEY [video clip]: Thank you. Thank you again.

BERMAN: The candidates thundered through Iowa after their stormy morning debate. The Republican targets were wide and varied. A favorite was Democrat Barack Obama and his recent comments that he would meet with controversial foreign leaders and be willing to invade Pakistan to fight terrorism.

From the August 5 edition of ABC's World News Sunday:

BERMAN: When Romney first ran for office in 1994, he did take a pro-choice position, but now, he says, he is pro-life and sick of apologizing for his past.

ROMNEY [video clip]: And I get tired of people who are holier than thou, because they've been pro-life longer than I have.

BERMAN: There was general support for the troop surge in Iraq and general scorn for the Democrats, particularly Barack Obama and his recent comments that he would meet with controversial foreign leaders and be willing to invade Pakistan to fight terrorism.

From the August 5 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator Obama said the other day one of the things that needs to be done, and that he would do were he the president, he said if he discovered there were high-value targets in that area, in what has become this safe haven, and Pakistan wasn't willing to do anything about it, he would invade Pakistan and do something about it. What's your reaction to that?

From the August 4 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys:

KONDRACKE: Welcome back to The Beltway Boys. Let's take a look at the "Ups and Downs" for the week. Down: Barack Obama. He's given more ammunition to critics who say that he's inexperienced in foreign policy. He made a big speech on terrorism this week, and here's part of it.

OBAMA [video clip]: Just because the president misrepresents our enemy does not mean that we do not have enemies. When I'm president, we will wage the war that has to be won.

KONDRACKE: That was the good news. I mean, he agrees with President Bush that the United States has terrorist enemies and that we've got to fight them. Where he showed that he's not ready for prime time is that he up front declared that he might invade the territory of an ally, Pakistan, which of course the president of Pakistan, Musharaff, denounced. And, you know, it's gonna make it all the harder to achieve what Obama says he wants, namely that Pakistan will develop according to a -- on a Democratic basis. And then he fumbled again when he ruled out that he would ever, ever use nuclear weapons under any circumstances involving people, involving civilians.

From the August 3 edition of Fox News' The Big Story:

GIBSON: Barack Obama suggested we invade Pakistan, this week. He's a loser.

KURT LONG (comedian): Yep. Yes, he is, not quite yet though, but I think he'll definitely be a loser in November, in about a year.

GIBSON: OK.

LONG: Yeah, I think that he'll be a definite loser, then.

From the August 2 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:

ANDREWS: Tucker, again, I think you're right, Matt [Continetti, Weekly Standard staff writer]. What did he actually say? He said he would take action. What does that mean? Does that mean he's going to invade Pakistan? I don't think so.

CARLSON: That's what he said.

ANDREWS: He was going to invade Pakistan?

CARLSON: He's going to send troops. What's the difference between sending troops and invading? Umm, let's see, nothing.

From the August 1 edition of the CBS Evening News:

ATTKISSON: Today Senator Barack Obama presented an aggressive plan to fight the war on terror, one of the toughest from a Democratic candidate so far.

OBAMA [video clip]: I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists.

ATTKISSON: In a speech in Washington, Obama said as president he'd send two more brigades to Afghanistan and possibly even invade the U.S. ally Pakistan, where Al Qaeda terror camps are up and running.

From the August 1 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

TAPPER: Good morning, Robin [Roberts, co-host]. Well, Senator Barack Obama will deliver a major address on terrorism this morning in Washington, D.C. And ABC News obtained some exclusive excerpts and comments that will no doubt be very controversial. Obama will make extraordinary remarks about what he would do to combat terrorism, going so far as to invade Pakistan.

From the August 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report:

KONDRACKE: Yeah, that's what I was going to get to.

I mean, if you were the president of United States, and you knew that Osama bin Laden was in a certain place, and you couldn't get Musharraf to do something about it, you very well might order a commando raid, or a pinpoint bombing, to do something.

But to announce -- you're a candidate, up front, we do not respect the sovereignty of an allied country that we're trying to get to do the right thing, and we are going to announce right now that we're going to go violate that country's sovereignty, with whatever the consequences might be for that leader, Musharraf, is totally irresponsible.

And, you know, I can't believe that the Democratic electorate out there -- and this is unilateralism on his part. It's Bush -- he accuses Hillary Clinton of being Bush-lite. This is Bush-heavy. This is willingness to invade another country.

Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Person
Howard Kurtz
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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