Surrendering Facts: Anti-Obama Fox Special To Push Tired Myths, Falsehoods, And Distortions

››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

Fox News will air an attack on President Obama in a program called Surrendering America, which is premised on myths and falsehoods about the Internet, the defense budget, the changed mission for NASA, and U.S. fossil fuel production and exports.

Fox Promotes Upcoming Surrendering America Special That Pushes Fox-Fueled Myths About Obama

FoxNews.com Introduces Fox News Reporting: Surrendering America. A post on Special Report anchor Bret Baier's blog previewed the upcoming special Surrendering America by claiming "Barack Obama entered the Oval Office promising to be a transformative figure who'd move this country forward. But to some, it seems as if America is in retreat":

Barack Obama entered the Oval Office promising to be a transformative figure who'd move this country forward. But to some, it seems as if America is in retreat. Fox News Reporting will examine the Administration's plan to surrender control of the internet, its proposal to reduce our Army to the lowest level since before World War II, the decision to abandon America's manned space program, and the Administration's hesitance to fully exploit the nation's natural energy resources to global strategic advantage. [FoxNews.com, "The Daily Bret" Blog, 3/26/14]

Fox Host Neil Cavuto: "I Urge You To Watch" Fox Special. After spending his closing segment responding to viewer emails about his objections to President Obama's plans for NASA and the future of manned spaceflight, which the Surrendering America special will address, Your World host Neil Cavuto urged his viewers to watch it:

CAVUTO: What has happened to the American resolve be genuine, to be proud, to be exceptional? Why is it politically incorrect to say we're all that? It's a big theme on a big show this weekend, Surrendering America. Friday at 10 pm. Saturday at 10 pm. Sunday at 9 pm. I urge you to watch it, my friend Bret Baier hosting it. It's about what's happened to us. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/26/14]

On Fox, Rep. Bachmann Touts Fox Special. Appearing on America's Newsroom, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MI) was reacting to a poll that reflected badly on Obama when she said, "Fox is having a special called Surrendering the United States of America [sic], can you believe that these are the topics we're talking about today?" [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/27/14]

Obama Is Not "Surrendering Control Of The Internet," Transition Has Been Planned Since 1998

Commerce Department Announced Intent To Transition Key Internet Domain Name Functions. In a March 14 press release, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), an Executive Branch agency that advises the president on telecommunications and information policy issues, announced the administration's plan to transition internet domain name functions:

To support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet policymaking and governance, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announces its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community. 

[...]

From the inception of ICANN, the U.S. Government and Internet stakeholders envisioned that the U.S. role in the IANA functions would be temporary.  The Commerce Department's June 10, 1998 Statement of Policy stated that the U.S. Government "is committed to a transition that will allow the private sector to take leadership for DNS management." [NTIA.gov, 3/14/14]

ICANN: "The Transition Of The US Government Stewardship Has Been Envisaged Since The Early Days Of IANA Functions Contract." ICANN, the organization currently responsible for assigning the numbers that form internet addresses announced that leaders of Internet technical organizations "welcome the US Government's announcement of the suggested changes related to the IANA functions contract," and explained the transition had been envisioned since "the early days of IANA functions contract":

The transition of the US Government stewardship has been envisaged since the early days of IANA functions contract. This transition is now feasible due to the maturity of the Internet technical organizations involved in performing their respective roles related to the IANA functions, and ICANN will facilitate a global, multi-stakeholder process to plan for the transition. [ICANN.org, 3/14/14]

U.S. Official: "There Had Been Plans Since ICANN's Creation In 1998 To Eventually Migrate It To International Control." A March 14 Washington Post report explained that U.S. officials planned on transitioning the authority for domain names "since ICANN's creation in 1998." Lawrence E. Strickling, the assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information explained:

U.S. officials said their decision had nothing to do with the NSA spying revelations and the worldwide controversy they sparked, saying there had been plans since ICANN's creation in 1998 to eventually migrate it to international control.

"The timing is now right to start this transition both because ICANN as an organization has matured, and international support continues to grow for the multistakeholder model of Internet governance," Strickling said in a statement. [The Washington Post3/14/14, emphasis added]

NY Times: The U.S. Subcontracted Responsibility To ICANN With "Expectation That The United States Would Eventually Step Back From Its Role." On March 14, The New York Times reported that the U.S. subcontracted domain management responsibilities to ICANN "with the expectation that the United States would eventually step back from its role":

Since the dawn of the Internet, the United States has been responsible for assigning the numbers that form Internet addresses, the .com, .gov and .org labels that correspond to those numbers, and for the vast database that links the two and makes sure Internet traffic goes to the right place.

The function has been subcontracted since 1998 to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, an international nonprofit organization, with the expectation that the United States would eventually step back from its role. [The New York Times3/14/14]

To see Fox News accusing the Obama administration of giving away the internet, click here.

Claims That Army Will Be Reduced To Pre-WWII Levels Are Misleading

Defense Secretary Hagel: Troop Reductions Necessary "To Sustain Our Readiness and Technological Superiority." Stars and Stripes report on the proposed Pentagon budget included Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's explanation for the troop reductions:

The military will have to get smaller in order to make the necessary investments in modernization, Hagel said.

"We chose further reductions in troop strength and force structure in every military service, active and reserve, in order to sustain our readiness and technological superiority, and to protect critical capabilities." [Stars and Stripes2/24/14]

The Atlantic: Reports That Military Is Shrinking To Pre-WWII Levels Are "Misleading." In a post in The Atlantic, national affairs writer Conor Friedersdorf explained that the suggestion that our military will be as strong as the pre-WWII army after the cuts is misleading and ignores the many ways the current military is different from the early 1940s:

Also, if the Army is indeed cut to between 440,000 and 450,000 personnel, as the Obama Administration has proposed, the Army could be characterized as operating with the smallest force "since just before the U.S. entered World War II," but it would also be accurate to say that the Army of 2014 will have 170,977 more people than the Army of 1940. And again, whereas the Army of 1940 encompassed the fighter pilots and bombers of that era, today we've got a whole separate Air Force composed of several hundred thousand uniformed men and women, plus a modern Navy and Marine Corps with significantly more personnel.

[...]

Of course, military strength isn't only about personnel. Circa 1940, the U.S. had a grand total of zero nuclear weapons. Today the U.S. has 5,113 nuclear warheads. An already-dated in 2011 Wired article noted that the U.S. had 7,494 drones, including 161 Predators, which are used for targeted killing. The U.S. also has 10 aircraft carriers. How many carriers does our closest military rival have? One. [The Atlantic, 2/25/14, emphasis added]

Foreign Policy: Headlines Claiming Military Is Shrinking To Pre-WWII Levels Are "Simply Not True." In Foreign Policy magazine, American University international relations professor Gordon Adams explained that headlines claiming the military is shrinking to pre-WWII levels are "simply not true," pointing out that "the Army, in fact, would be larger." [Foreign Policy2/27/14]

Foreign Policy: Military Will Remain "Larger Than That Of Almost Any Nation The United States Might Fight." Adams also pointed out that even after the budget cuts, the military will be larger than "almost any nation the United States might fight ... and the only one that can be deployed around the globe":

[W]e don't live in Hitler's world -- there is no major enemy ground force surging into other countries that the United States needs to confront. Moreover, this ain't the conscript Army of yesteryear -- it is a well-armed, superior force any way you look at it, larger than that of almost any nation the United States might fight (except that of China, which it wouldn't fight on the ground) and the only one that can be deployed around the globe.

The Army needs to shrink, to reflect the end of the wars and the reality that the Pentagon's own strategy rules out large, long-term stability operations, like Iraq and Afghanistan. And, unlike the 1930s, there are now more than 500,000 U.S. Army guardsmen and reservists to call up in a time of need, if it ever arises. It is a better Guard and Reserve than ever, courtesy of the deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan -- quality force, for sure. [Foreign Policy, 2/27/14

NYT: "Even With A Smaller Army, America's Defenses Will Remain The World's Most Formidable." A February 26 New York Times editorial explained that the "reduction should not alarm anyone" because "the United States cannot afford the larger force indefinitely, and it doesn't need it":

The headlines have focused on Mr. Hagel's plans to shrink the Army by 2019 to its smallest level since before World War II, which is to say somewhere between 440,000 and 450,000 troops, from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. (Many experts say the number could go to 420,000.) But this reduction should not alarm anyone.

The truth is that the United States cannot afford the larger force indefinitely, and it doesn't need it. The country is tired of large-scale foreign occupations and, in any case, Pentagon planners do not expect they will be necessary in the foreseeable future. Even with a smaller Army, America's defenses will remain the world's most formidable, especially given Mr. Hagel's proposed increase in investment in special operations, cyberwarfare and rebalancing the American presence in Asia. [New York Times2/26/14]

To see Fox News distorting the debate over the defense budget, click here.

Obama Did Not "Abandon America's Manned Space Program"

Space Analyst John Logsdon: Obama's Plan For NASA "Makes An Investment In The Long-Term Strategy Of Exploration." From a Washington Post report about a NASA budget released by President Obama in February 2010:

Obama's strategy also emphasizes the long-term goal of human exploration beyond low Earth orbit, but the moon is just one of several possible destinations. Rather than determining up front where astronauts will go, NASA would pour billions of dollars into new technologies and help create a commercial industry in human spaceflight. Thus the agency would become a bit more like the National Science Foundation, an engine for research and innovation.

"I think it is the largest strategic change at least since Kennedy sent us to the moon, and rivals even that in terms of its impact," said space analyst John Logsdon.

He said that, far from killing human spaceflight, the Obama budget gives NASA more than a billion dollars a year in extra funding and makes an investment in the long-term strategy of exploration. That would include robotic missions to the moon.

"We have not abandoned the moon," Logsdon said. [The Washington Post2/11/10]

Astronomer Phil Plait: Obama's NASA Plan "May Very Well Save NASA And Our Future Manned Exploration Capabilities. From Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog:

[T]he way we've been doing things for 40 years has gotten us literally in circles. It's perhaps long past time to shake things up and try something different. In my previous posts on this ... people are complaining that Obama is killing our Moon plans and gutting NASA. That's simply not true. I think this may very well save NASA and our future manned exploration capabilities, if this is all done correctly. [Discover Magazine, Bad Astronomy, 2/1/10]

Plait: Gap Between Space Shuttle And Follow-On System "Started In The Bush Administration." After the House of Representatives passed the NASA authorization bill in September 2010, Plait wrote:

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) hammered over and again the idea that Obama is trying to kill the manned space program. That is not true, and in fact the current situation (including the five year gap between the Shuttle and any follow-on rocket system) started in the Bush Administration. Constellation has been in trouble for some time, behind schedule and over-budget. I'm of the opinion that Obama's plan to defund Constellation does not kill the manned space program as Culberson said it will. I have written about this repeatedly: far from killing it, this new direction may save NASA from the mess it finds itself in right now. [Discover Magazine, Bad Astronomy, 9/30/10]

Buzz Aldrin: Steps Taken Following Obama's Direction "Will Best Position NASA And Other Space Agencies To Send Humans To Mars." From astronaut Buzz Aldrin's statement on Obama's NASA plan:

Today I wish to endorse strongly the President's new direction for NASA. As an Apollo astronaut, I know the importance of always pushing new frontiers as we explore space. The truth is, that we have already been to the Moon -- some 40 years ago. A near-term focus on lowering the cost of access to space and on developing key, cutting-edge technologies to take us further, faster, is just what our Nation needs to maintain its position as the leader in space exploration for the rest of this century. We need to be in this for the long haul, and this program will allow us to again be pushing the boundaries to achieve new and challenging things beyond Earth. I hope NASA will embrace this new direction as much as I do, and help us all continue to use space exploration to drive prosperity and innovation right here on Earth.

I also believe the steps we will be taking following the President's direction will best position NASA and other space agencies to send humans to Mars and other exciting destinations as quickly as possible. To do that, we will need to support many types of game-changing technologies NASA and its partners will be developing. Mars is the next frontier for humankind, and NASA will be leading the way there if we aggressively support the President's plans.

Finally, I am excited to think that the development of commercial capabilities to send humans into low earth orbit will likely result in so many more earthlings being able to experience the transformative power of spaceflight. I can personally attest to the fact that the experience results in a different perspective on life on Earth, and on our future as a species. I applaud the President for working to make this dream a reality. [WhiteHouse.gov, 2/1/10]

Sally Ride: Obama Proposal "Frees Us To Chart A Path For Human Exploration Into The Solar System." Astronaut Sally Ride stated of Obama's plan:

The President's plan is a bold strategic shift that will enable NASA to return to its roots: developing innovative technologies aimed at enabling human exploration and tackling the truly challenging aspects of human spaceflight -- venturing beyond Earth orbit, beyond the Earth-Moon system, and into the solar system. The proposed program extends the life of the international Space Station to at least 2020, funds its use as a science, engineering and technology laboratory, and refocuses the Orion capsule to support it. It reinvigorates NASA's long-neglected technology program and focuses it on technologies necessary for human exploration. And it sets a date of 2015 for selecting a new heavy lift launch vehicle.

Most significantly, the proposed program articulates a strategy for human exploration that will excite and energize the next generation. It shifts our focus from the Moon and frees us to chart a path for human exploration into the solar system. It propels astronauts further, faster -- and to a variety of new destinations. Astronauts will travel to near-Earth asteroids and to distant space telescopes; they will visit the lunar surface and the moons of Mars. And, because this strategy systematically develops the necessary technologies and experience, the path will lead to a human mission to Mars. [Politico4/14/10]

To see Fox News smearing Obama's NASA record, click here and here.

U.S. Fossil Fuels Can't be Used As A Strategic Counter To Russian Aggression In Ukraine

Energy Analyst Chris Nelder: It's "Patently Absurd" To Claim Building The Keystone XL Pipeline "Would Somehow Address The Immediate Situation In Crimea." In reaction to Fox News figures demanding that the Keystone XL pipeline be built in an effort to "weaken" Russia, energy analyst Chris Nelder told Media Matters:

Keystone XL proponents will seize on any shred of justification for the project, no matter how tenuous. The suggestion that a very long-term project like Keystone XL, which will take a year or more to construct on any timetable, and which will deliver refined products like gasoline and diesel to a global market -- not just markets around Russia -- would somehow address the immediate situation in Crimea, is patently absurd. Further, delivering 830,000 barrels per day once it reaches full capacity will not meaningfully undercut Russia specifically in a global market that consumes 92 million barrels per day. [Media Matters. 3/5/14]

Nelder: It's "Simply Wrong" To Think Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Exports Could Be Used "As A Geopolitical Tool" Against Russia. Energy analyst Chris Nelder also explained to Media Matters about the absurdity of claiming that natural gas mined by hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) could be used as a "geopolitical tool" in any sense, never mind being used to "specifically undercut Russia's exports":

US LNG export projects are years away from completion, and I have serious questions about the ability of the United States to fulfill 20-year export contracts once they begin operation. I also suspect that US natural gas prices may not remain low enough to make LNG exports viable over a 20-year horizon. So viewing LNG exports as a geopolitical tool is simply wrong, let alone a geopolitical tool that would specifically undercut Russia's exports. [Media Matters, 3/6/14]

Wealth Management CEO: "There Are Very Few Energy Companies" That Will Export LNG Due To High Costs. On MSNBC's All In, Dan Dicker, CEO of wealth management group MercBloc, explained why fracking in America is not a solution to Russia's aggression against Ukraine:

DICKER: The Russians do have a major control, major influence, on most of eastern Europe through natural gas. But we have to distinguish between natural gas -- which is a gas -- and crude oil which is a liquid. If you want to move a liquid from one place to another, you put in the a dixie cup and you can move it any way you like. Natural gas has two ways of being transported, one is through pipelines. Now, the United States can do nothing in terms of creating a pipeline to all of these eastern European nations.

[...]

The only other way you can get it across, and what they're talking about is permitting, is through what we call LNG, which is liquid natural gas. It needs to be cooled, natural gas, to be transported as LNG needs to be cooled to a minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit then put in very, very carefully into very select containers that you can now transport overseas. This costs a lot of money. This is why permitting -- you could permit all of the natural gas export plants you want, there are very few energy companies who are going to undertake building these things, they cost $2 billion to convert an import plant into an export plant. [MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes, 3/5/14, via Media Matters]

Bloomberg Businessweek: LNG Exports Aren't "A Switch That Can Be Turned On Overnight." Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was pressed about whether the U.S. will expedite plans to export natural gas to Europe, and explained:

This isn't a switch that can be turned on overnight. Even if the government fast-tracked the process and approved every application tomorrow, the export projects are privately funded and require billions in capital investment and several years to complete. The furthest along, Sabine Pass, probably won't begin exporting gas until the end of 2015. The bulk of U.S. LNG exports won't hit the global market until 2018 and 2019 at the earliest. [Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/24/14]

To see Fox News advocating for the building of the Keystone XL pipeline and increased fracking as a solution to Russia's aggression, click here.

Surrendering America Is The Latest In A String Of Irresponsible Fox Specials

Fox's Benghazi Special Featured Numerous Debunked Falsehoods. A June 28, 2013 special titled Benghazi: The Truth Behind The Smokescreen included several debunked myths and falsehoods about the 2012 attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Among the most egregious falsehoods pushed by the special were that an order to stand down from rescue attempts was given, that the administration attempted to cover up the attack, that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a cable ordering scaled-back security at the Benghazi compound, and that President Obama never referred to the attacks as an "act of terror." [Media Matters, 7/1/13]

Fox Aired An Hour-Long Special On Voter Fraud That Featured No Credible Cases Of In-Person Voter Fraud. On April 21, 2012, Fox aired the special Fox News Reporting: Stealing Your Vote that claimed "voter fraud is still rampant" and urged viewers to send tips about voter fraud to a tip email address that Fox had set up specifically for the topic. Despite the premise, the special only aired one alleged case of in-person fraud that would have been prevented by voter ID laws, and that example had already been debunked by the South Carolina Election Commission. [Media Matters, 4/22/12]

Fox Special Falsely Blamed Municipal Unions For Town's Bankruptcy. An August 10, 2012 Fox special Fox News Reporting: Cities Going Broke attacked municipal unions for the fiscal troubles of San Bernadino, CA which had filed for bankruptcy. The truth is that the city's finances were devastated by the 2008 economic downturn, not unions. [Media Matters, 8/11/12]

Fox's Food Stamp Special Mischaracterized The Program's Recipients. On August 9, 2013, Fox aired a special devoted to SNAP, otherwise known as the food stamp program, titled The Great Food Stamp Binge. The program largely focused on one food stamp recipient, Jason Greenslate who took advantage of the program's benefits in an attempt to characterize SNAP recipients as freeloaders. The reality, however, is that, unlike Greenslate, 41 percent of SNAP recipients live in households that earn money, and 76 percent of SNAP households include a child, elderly person or disabled American. [Media Matters, 8/9/13]

Fox's Obamacare Special Heavily Relied On Koch-Funded Anti-Health Care Group. On December 13, 2013, Fox aired a special on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) titled Behind The Obama Breakdown. The special heavily featured Generation Opportunity, an organization devoted to urging college students not to sign up for Obamacare and is funded by the Koch brothers and conservative lobbying groups, a fact the program did not disclose. [Media Matters, 12/13/13]

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