Fox News' Special Report continued the network's attempts to push the myth that a "stand down order" was issued to American security personnel on the ground during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, a claim immediately debunked by a panelist on the show.
On the September 4 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier aired video of his interview with three CIA security personnel who responded to the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. The interview will be featured during Fox News' special "13 Hours at Benghazi," which will air on September 5 and is based on a forthcoming book of the same name that the personnel played a role in writing. Introducing the interview, Baier asked the former security personnel about what he claimed to be "one of the most controversial questions arising from Benghazi: Was helped delayed?" Baier described the interview as a "dramatic new turn in what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an old story."
The three CIA security personnel explained to Baier that the CIA's station chief in Benghazi told them to wait before responding to the attacks. One of the men told Baier "I assumed they were trying to coordinate us to link up with 17 February, which is the local militia."
But contrary to Baier's presentation of the story as new and "dramatic," New York Times reported in a September 4 article that the security personnel accounts made in the book "fits with the publicly known facts and chronology," explaining that U.S. officials have previously acknowledged that "the Central Intelligence Agency security team paused to try to enlist support from Libyan militia allies."
In fact, during a panel discussing Baier's interview later on the program, conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Lane explained that the delay was probably to ensure the safety of the remaining CIA security personnel and was, in fact, not controversial at all:
LANE: The person I want to hear from is Bob, the CIA guy who told them to wait. Because when we hear from Bob we'll hear why he told them to wait. What we heard from your interview was they assumed he was waiting for more support from the local militia. Which, by the way, might not be a bad reason to wait. In other words, you want to go - you don't want to rush in with just three guys into what was obviously a very, very dangerous situation. You'd want to wait to see if you could round up some more support. In other words, there's a difference between waiting and waiting for no good reason and, even worse, waiting because you were told 'we don't care what happens to the Ambassador.' I want to hear from Bob, I want to hear the CIA make him available and tell us exactly what was going on. What I'm not hearing in this is that anybody in Washington said, 'we don't care what happens to the Ambassador, write it off, stay away.'
Even panelist Steve Hayes pointed out that the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report "says that there was no stand down order." And Baier himself conceded that the Senate Intelligence Committee January 2014 review of the attacks "said that in fact it was working to get this February 17 militia to respond first."
The evidence that CIA operatives were not delayed by "orders from above" is overwhelming and has existed for quite some time -- but if Fox's upcoming Benghazi documentary is any indication, the network will continue its attempts to make a scandal out of the "stand down order" myth.
Fox News host Bret Baier raised the notion that a possible forthcoming executive order on immigration from President Obama may be government "shutdown bait."
In June, President Obama announced he was considering issuing an executive order that could allow millions of law-abiding undocumented immigrants to stay temporarily in the United States. While the specifics of the possible order are still unknown, the Washington Post reported this "could include temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years."
On the August 28 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, host Bret Baier speculated on whether President Obama's forthcoming order was "shutdown bait," designed to encourage the Republicans into shutting down the government in retaliation:
In fact, GOP lawmakers have been floating the idea of using a budget showdown in response to an executive order on immigration. In recent days, Republican lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) and Rep. Steve King (IA) have talked to reporters about using the budget and government funding mechanisms to address any action Obama takes on immigration. In a statement released by The Des Moines Register, King said that an executive order on immigration "changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution":
"If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear ...," King said. "I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that."King said if that happens, House-passed legislation on border security, including rolling back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, order, "becomes a requirement" for a continuing resolution.
Baier's question also came a day after The Week's Marc Ambinder noted that Rubio had "hinted that this might happen," and advised Democrats to "[g]o big on immigration. Wait for the GOP counter-reaction. Quietly pray for the government to get shut down. Use it like a cattle prod to wake voters up just before the midterms."
A central question of Fox News' latest documentary on Benghazi has already been answered by official congressional and State Department investigations into the terrorist attacks.
On August 27, Fox announced "13 Hours at Benghazi," a new documentary hosted by Special Report anchor Bret Baier that will reportedly include "exclusive" interviews with three American security personnel who were present for the September 2012 attacks. The production, scheduled to air September 5, is based on a forthcoming book written by journalist Mitchell Zuckoff and the CIA contractors.
According to Fox's announcement, the production will specifically explore "Whether or not military assistance was requested by the security team and whether orders from above hindered their response to the violence that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans."
The problem with this premise is that both of those questions have already been answered by official intelligence investigations.
As the Daily Beast's Eli Lake has explained, on the night of the attacks there was a 23-minute delay between the initial distress call from the diplomatic mission and when the CIA contractors departed the nearby Annex to respond. Despite suggestions from some in the intelligence community that this delay hindered their rescue effort, investigations found no evidence that the CIA operatives were delayed by "orders from above," as Fox's announcement suggests.
Instead, the Senate Intelligence Committee's January 2014 review of the attacks found that during that delay, the CIA's Chief of Base "attempted to secure assistance and heavy weapons" from US allies in the region, and that (emphasis added):
Although some members of the security team expressed frustration that they were unable to respond more quickly to the Mission compound, the Committee found no evidence of intentional delay or obstruction by the Chief of Base or any other party.
The State Department's independent Accountability Review Board also found the CIA team was not obstructed by officials:
The departure of the Annex team was not delayed by orders from superiors; the team leader decided on his own to depart the Annex compound once it was apparent, despite a brief delay to permit their continuing efforts, that rapid support from local security elements was not forthcoming.
Finally, the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Republicans, also found no evidence that any response effort was blocked by official orders. According to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), the "bipartisan, factual, definitive report" on the Intelligence Community's actions the night of the attacks "shows there was no 'stand down order' given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening."
Fox's Bret Baier, the host of the upcoming special, reported on the House Intelligence Committee's findings on August 5.
Baier has hosted previous Fox specials on Benghazi and has repeatedly used his Fox News program to promote myths about the attacks and their aftermath. The false claim that CIA contractors received "orders to wait" was also pushed by 60 Minutes' infamous since-retracted Benghazi report, which featured a discredited "eyewitness" account from a British security contractor.
Fox News has repeatedly dismissed the federal civil rights investigation into the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, calling it "political optics" and an example of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder playing "the race card." In fact, under long-standing civil rights law, the federal government has parallel investigative powers alongside local authorities and frequently investigates local police departments that may have a pattern or practice of abuse.
Fox News' Special Report characterized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speaking contract requirements as outrageous, in an attempt to paint Clinton as an out of touch "diva," but Clinton's requirements are typical of contracts made by high profile politicians.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the details of Hillary Clinton's speaking contract for her upcoming October fundraiser for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, including Clinton's speaking fee as well as a number of stipulations ranging from private jet transportation, luxury hotel accommodations, and travel arrangements for aides.
On the August 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier and Fox correspondent James Rosen seized on the report to paint Hillary Clinton as a "rock star diva" with outrageous demands. Baier introduced the segment claiming "Hillary Clinton has a list of demands that critics say would make a rock star diva proud." Rosen detailed Clinton's "demands" which included a private jet, a luxury suite, and travel stipends for Clinton's aides:
A Fox News report failed to disclose that an anti-Obamacare doctor featured objecting to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is running for state representative as a Republican in New Hampshire.
Continuing Fox's campaign to boost anti-Obama candidates in New Hampshire, including former Fox contributor Scott Brown, an August 8 Special Report segment highlighted the story of Dr. Joe Hannon, who was purportedly driven out of practice due to the ACA. During an interview with Fox, Dr. Hannon claimed, "The health care act was the final nail in the coffin. It wasn't the main reason or the only reason, but it made the decision a lot easier for me."
From the August 8 edition of Fox News' Fox News Reporting: Live Free or Die: Obamacare in New Hampshire:
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Right-wing media are warning President Obama that taking executive action on the immigration crisis after Congress failed to pass immigration reform may spur talk of impeachment. But legal experts have confirmed that the president has broad authority to issue executive orders on immigration.
A Fox News segment displayed a misleading chart based on a poll that appeared to show 110 percent of Americans disapproved of President Obama's job performance.
On the July 30 edition of Special Report, the following chart was shown during a report by Fox News political correspondent Carl Cameron on Obama's popularity in the "twelve states most likely to decide Senate control":
Without showing the number of likely voters who approve of Obama's job performance, viewers are left with the impression that more than 100 percent of respondents disapprove of the president's job performance. Watch:
Conservative media are cherry-picking Hillary Clinton's recent praise of President Bush's work on HIV/AIDS relief in Africa to suggest she was embracing Bush's leadership and distancing herself from President Obama. But in the same interview Clinton issued a sharp rebuke of Bush's record and offered support for Obama's foreign policy initiatives.
On the July 27 edition of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, Clinton briefly noted President Bush's work on HIV/AIDS relief in Africa, saying "whether you agree or disagree with a lot of what else he did -- and I disagree with a lot of it -- I am proud to be an American when I go to Sub-Saharan Africa and people say, I want to thank President Bush and the United States for, you know, helping us fight HIV/AIDS."
Right-wing media immediately fixated on the comment, misleadingly framing it as a rebuke of Obama. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy called it a "shocking confession," asking if Clinton was "trying to distance herself from her former boss." Fox host Bret Baier agreed with Doocy, calling it a "subtle dig" and claiming she was "in essence, criticizing the current administration." The Washington Times concurred with the headline, "Hillary swats aside Obama."
But in the same CNN interview, Clinton issued a sharp criticism of Bush's foreign policy record while defending Obama administration initiatives.
On Iraq, Clinton said she had given President Bush "too much of the benefit of the doubt," and that his decisions had taught her "to be far more skeptical of what I'm told by presidents" (emphasis added):
CLINTON: I had worked closely with President Bush after the attack on 9/11. I supported his efforts to go after bin Laden and al Qaeda and, by extension, the Taliban, which were sheltering them in Afghanistan. And I, frankly, gave him too much of the benefit of the doubt. My view at the time -- and this is still true today -- is that the threat of force can often create conditions to resolve matters, and sometimes what we call coercive diplomacy is necessary. And I thought that that's what the president would do. It turned out not to be the case. And then following the invasion, the decisions that were made, everything from disbanding the military and disbanding, you know, the political structure turned out to be very ill-advised and we ended up with a dangerous situation, which then, you know, the Americans did not convince Maliki to allow a follow-on force that might have given us some ability to prevent Maliki from beginning to undermine the unity of Iraq.
She also stood by many of Obama's foreign policy choices. She noted that she supported the Obama administration negotiations with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which failed only after Maliki refused terms with the U.S. When asked if Obama was handling the current crisis in the Ukraine appropriately, Clinton noted that the president was facing "the same challenges that American presidents face when dealing with threats within Europe," and urged allies to fully participate with the president's efforts. And she defended the president from Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer's claim that Obama is not focusing enough on global issues (emphasis added):
ZAKARIA: Charles Krauthammer, a conservative critic, has said the world is going to hell and President Obama is playing golf. Is he playing too much golf while all these crises are popping up?
CLINTON: No. I think that's an unfair comment to make. I know from my own experience with the president where we work so closely together, and as I write in the book, you know, went from being adversaries to partners, to friends, that he is constantly working and thinking. But he also wants to do what will make a difference, not just perform. He wants to be sure that we know what the consequences, both intended and unintended are.
Moreover, contrary to the suggestion that praise for Bush's record on HIV/AIDS relief is an implicit and noteworthy criticism of Obama, Obama himself has also lauded Bush's work in Africa, saying he deserves "enormous credit." Obama told ABC News that AIDS relief was one of Bush's "crowning achievements ... Because of the commitment of the Bush administration and the American people, millions of people's lives have been saved." Former President Bill Clinton has also praised Bush's work in this area back in 2012, noting that the relief efforts "saved the lives of millions of people."
Fox News ran a dishonest report on a proposed bill to prohibit states from imposing unusually burdensome regulations on abortion clinics, hiding the harmful effects that the barrage of onerous state restrictions on abortion have had on access to abortion.
On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Molly Henneberg reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Women's Health Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The bill would prohibit states from enacting abortion restrictions that are more onerous than placed on similar outpatient procedures. Both Henneberg and host Bret Baier framed the legislation as an attempt to appeal to the Democratic base; the segment also amplified misinformation from its critics and invoked convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell.
Fox News hyped a lawsuit by Republican Senator Ron Johnson (WI) against the federal government to revive the long-debunked myth that Congress got exemptions from the Affordable Care Act by receiving the same employer contribution for its insurance that it traditionally received.
Conservative media are calling the Environmental Protection Agency's clarification of the Clean Water Act an "unprecedented land grab" that will regulate "nearly every drop of water." However, the proposed revision, which will help protect the drinking water of 117 million Americans, will not add any new categories of waters but will clarify that upstream sources will be protected from pollution.
Fox News reverted to long debunked Benghazi myths to attack Hillary Clinton for her Tuesday interview on Fox, during which she stood by the fact that intelligence at the time linked the Benghazi terror attacks to an inflammatory anti-Islam video.
On the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade discussed the interview, criticizing Clinton for standing by "the administration mantra" that the 2012 Benghazi attacks were linked to the inflammatory anti-Islam video. Kilmeade argued that Clinton defended the link despite the fact that former CIA acting deputy director Mike Morell said that there was "no way" the attacks had "anything to do with the video," while Doocy accused the administration of pushing the video link to protect the administration "in advance of an election." Baier followed suit on America's Newsroom, criticizing Clinton for asserting "the fact that a video was a part of the situation on the ground in Benghazi":
During Fox News' interview with Hillary Clinton, Bret Baier rehashed an already-answered question about whether or not the former secretary of state had been in contact with then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta the night of the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, despite a House committee determining months ago there was no evidence that Clinton had done so.
Baier and fellow Fox host Greta Van Susteren interviewed Clinton on June 17 as part of her tour for her new book, Hard Choices. Baier focused much of his questioning on the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, asking Clinton whether or not she had spoken with Panetta the night of the attack:
BAIER: Did you talk to Secretary Panetta that night?
CLINTON: I talked with [then-CIA] Director [David] Petraeus. I talked on a video -- secure video conference with a full array of officials. I knew because I had talked with the National Security Adviser, Tom Donilon, that Secretary Panetta and [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General [Martin] Dempsey were doing everything they could. We had open lines.
BAIER: You didn't speak to him that night?
CLINTON: I didn't. You know, I can't recall. I know that the Defense Department was in the room in the video conference that I held.
This isn't the first time Fox has pushed the false claim that Clinton spoke to Panetta the night of the Benghazi attack. The network hasrepeatedly speculated that a "stand down order" had been issued the night of the attacks on Benghazi, often linking that false claim to Clinton or Panetta.
However, a February 2014 report on the Benghazi Investigation from the House Armed Services Committee definitively found that Clinton did not communicate with Panetta on September 11, 2012, during the attacks on Benghazi:
"[A]s to specifics" of the U.S. reaction, Secretary Panetta testified to the Senate that the President "left that up to us." Secretary Panetta said the President was "well informed" about events and worried about American lives. He and General Dempsey also testified they had no further contact with the President, nor did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ever communicate with them that evening.