Fox News provided one-sided coverage to support Mitt Romney's debate claim that President Obama began his presidency with "an apology tour." The lie, which was manufactured by Fox, has been debunked by fact-checkers and reporters numerous times, including repeated "pants on fire" ratings by PolitiFact.
During the October 22 debate, Mitt Romney said that President Obama began his administration with "an apology tour of going to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America," a claim he has used throughout his campaign. Romney went on to suggest that other countries saw this as a sign of weakness. During the October 23 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox highlighted the remarks and turned to Romney supporters John Bolton and Jack Keane to discuss the accusation. Fox News' one-sided analysis of Romney's claim lacked any mention of fact-checkers disputing the charge or even Obama's response to the attack during the debate.
Following Romney's claim during the debate, Obama called his remarks "the biggest whopper that's been told during the course of this campaign" and correctly pointed out that fact checkers and reporters have disagreed with Romney's claim.
"Obama did indeed mention past U.S. flaws in speeches. But in those addresses, Obama never uttered an apology for the United States. Those statements were snippets, part of larger and grander narratives about repairing ties, building friendship and working together."
During a October 23 broadcast on Bloomberg TV, chief Washington correspondent Peter Cook fact-checked Romney's claim and found that President Obama had not gone on "an apology tour" and that Romney "doesn't pass the fact-checking test here." An August 31 post on PolitiFact.com labeled Romney's claim "pants on fire." From the fact-check:
[A] review of Obama's foreign travels and remarks during his early presidency showed no evidence to support such a blunt and disparaging claim. (In later years, we found two formal apologies, but they were not at the start of his presidency and not part of a tour.)
While Obama's speeches contained some criticisms of past U.S. actions, he typically combined those passages with praise for the United States and its ideals, and he frequently mentioned how other countries had erred as well. We found not a single, full-throated apology in the bunch."
Media Matters intern Brian Rabitz contributed to this post.
To help recap and analyze last night's presidential debate, Fox News' America's Newsroom trotted out a string of former Bush administration officials -- including Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton -- to pile accolades on Mitt Romney's performance and attack President Obama. The Bush veterans were joined by several conservative commentators, Romney surrogates, and the occasional Democrat.
Below is the list of non-reporter guests America's Newsroom featured this morning to comment on the debate, in order of appearance.
John Bolton: Romney foreign policy advisor, George W. Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, and advocate of bombing Iran.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): Office of Management and Budget director under George W. Bush, Romney surrogate, and Romney's debate coach.
Donald Rumsfeld: Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush who praised Romney's "terrific" speech at the Virginia Military Institute earlier this month.
Gen. Wesley Clark: Former Democratic candidate for president and Obama campaign advisor.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): Romney surrogate.
Bob Beckel: Democratic strategist and Fox News host.
Andrea Tantaros: Republican strategist and Fox News host.
In a blow to his own network, Fox News host Juan Williams debunked false narratives that Fox News has frequently pushed since the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
In an opinion piece for The Hill, Williams offered three "corrections" for what he describes as "deliberate misinformation" from Republicans (and their conservative media mouthpieces) about the Benghazi attack.
Misinformation #1: "U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice lied to the American people in the days after the attack" when she suggested that a viral anti-Islam video sparked violence and wide-spread protests. Fox News has repeatedly pushed this narrative to make it seem like the administration was deliberately misleading the American people.
Correction: Williams debunked this false narrative, pointing to the "simple fact" that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, "confirmed that Rice told the truth in describing the assessment of the intelligence community at the time of her remarks." Williams went on to explain that CIA Director David Petraeus briefed the House Intelligence Committee with the same intel Rice used, as did Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy in testimony before Congress earlier in October. Furthermore, as Media Matters has previously exposed, Williams noted that Rice "stressed that there was an ongoing investigation where conclusions were subject to change." Indeed, Rice appeared on all major networks and repeatedly stressed that there was an ongoing investigation into the attacks.
Misinformation #2: "[R]equests for extra security in Benghazi were denied by the administration," coupled with the suggestion that the "attack would have been stopped, and the ambassador still alive, if the requests had been granted." Fox News pushed this myth on multiple occasions.
Correction: Williams pointed out that requests for extra security were focused on the embassy in Tripoli, not Benghazi, and State Department officials believe that even if the requests had been granted, they would likely not have changed what happened in Benghazi because the consulate would have been ill-equipped to respond to such a large-scale assault (again echoing a previous report by Media Matters):
From the October 11 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox's Neil Cavuto attacked President Obama for "congratulating" Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on winning the recent presidential election. But the White House did not congratulate Chavez at all; rather they congratulated the Venezuelan people for a high participation and a "peaceful election process," a response nearly identical to the one issued by President Bush in 2006.
During the October 9 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto reacted to a statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney on the Venezuelan election by asking if the White House gave "its blessings to a dictator critics say is muscling into his job for life?" When asked for commentary on the White House's response, Fox News contributor John Bolton suggested it "was a big mistake" and "very sad commentary." Bolton went on to attack Obama, claiming "it may have been Chicago-style politics that attracted the approval" of the White House:
However, the White House statement never congratulated Hugo Chavez on his victory. In a press gaggle en route to Bakersfield, California, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters pointed out "differences with President Chavez" but congratulated Venezuela on "a high level of participation" and a "relatively peaceful election process":
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN and vocal critic of the Obama administration, is often sought after by the media for his opinion on foreign policy issues, but his stake in the presidential election -- as a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney -- is rarely, if ever, disclosed by the outlets that publish him.
In addition to editorials in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and appearances on Fox News that left Bolton's ties to Romney undisclosed, a Media Matters review found editorials in five additional publications written or co-written by Bolton that left out that key information.
In total, Bolton wrote seven editorials that were critical of Obama's policies for The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Examiner, The Weekly Standard and the National Review after he became affiliated with the Romney campaign. None of those op-eds identified Bolton as a member of the Romney team. However, three of those outlets -- the Times, Monitor, and the Examiner -- have reported separately on Bolton's position in the campaign.
Right-wing media have responded to the attacks in Libya and Egypt by pointing fingers at President Obama, saying his policies are to blame. Conservative media figures are also amplifying blame by harping on the accusation that Obama does not attend daily intelligence briefings in person; in fact, Obama receives national security briefings in other ways throughout his day.
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin is defending Romney's attacks on President Obama over the deadly assaults on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Libya, writing that Romney's position is drawing support from "conservative foreign policy hawks."
Conservative foreign policy hawks, outraged at the media's circle-the-wagons reaction to the attacks on two embassies, are speaking out in defense of Mitt Romney.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton tells Right Turn: "The perception of American weakness that provided the foundation for these attacks is largely because of Obama administration mistakes and lack of resolve. A repetition of 1979 in Tehran is nor fetched, especially given the weakness of Obama's statement this morning." He dismisses the media storyline as pure boosterism: "The press criticism of Romney's statement is so clearly at the administration's behest that they are giving lapdogs a bad name."
John Bolton is, of course, a Romney campaign surrogate. So the fact that he's defending Romney isn't exactly surprising.
Rubin also notes that a pair of American Enterprise Institute scholars are also rallying to Romney's side, as is Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). But they remain in the distinct minority, as many prominent Republicans are showing reluctance to echo Romney's attacks on the president.
In the Wall Street Journal, John Bolton parroted a clear Romney campaign falsehood that the U.S. Navy under President Obama is as weak as it was in World War I. Furthermore, in publishing the op-ed, the Journal did not disclose Bolton's position as an adviser to Mitt Romney.
The Journal's failure to disclose Bolton's interest fits with the paper's pattern of printing columns by Karl Rove attacking President Obama without acknowledging that Rove co-founded and runs a super PAC devoted to defeating Obama.
In a September 10, Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bolton claimed that China is becoming increasingly aggressive towards its neighbors in the Pacific Ocean because of Obama administration policies. He claimed that the United States should reverse Obama's policies, in part, by "rapidly rebuild America's Navy." Bolton went on to claim: "Today we have about 285 warships at sea, a scarcity of vessels not seen since World War I."
The suggestion that the Navy is as weak as it was in World War I echoes untrue arguments advanced by Romney himself. During a Republican presidential debate, Romney claimed, "Our Navy is smaller than it's been since 1917" and suggested that Obama was to blame.
However, Politifact declared that claim false, reporting that a University of Georgia historian said such a claim "doesn't pass 'the giggle test' " because our Navy is clearly stronger than it was in World War I. Moreover, the number of Navy ships declined in every year of President George W. Bush's second term, but has increased under Obama.
UPDATE: Mediaite reported in an article following the publication of this post that Fox says Chao is no longer a Fox News contributor. Mediaite wrote: "We reached out to Fox and they replied that Chao is, in fact, not a Fox News contributor." Fox identified Chao as a Fox News contributor as recently as September 6 during an appearance on Fox Business.
If it's hard to differentiate Fox News contributors from members of the Romney campaign, it might be because they're sometimes one in the same.
Four Fox News contributors are serving as surrogates or advisers for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. In many instances, Fox News has failed to disclose its employees' ties to the Romney campaign while hosting them.
Another contributor, Karl Rove, is a co-founder and adviser for the super PAC American Crossroads, which is spending millions to defeat President Obama. Jay Sekulow frequently appears on Fox News to discuss legal issues and attack the Obama administration without being identified as a Romney legal adviser.
The following are the Fox News contributors who are also members of the Romney campaign.
Fox News turned to John Bolton to tout Romney's overseas tour and bash President Obama's foreign policy without disclosing his position as a Romney foreign policy adviser.
Today, Romney will wrap up a weeklong trip overseas that included visits to London, Israel, and Poland. During the trip, Romney has drawn criticism for saying he found some of London's Olympic preparations "disconcerting" and for suggesting that cultural differences are among the reasons the Israelis are more economically successful than the Palestinians.
Appearing yesterday on Fox News' America Live, Bolton played down Romney's Olympics gaffe, claiming that criticism over the remark was just a "tempest in a teacup" and that Romney's overseas tour had been "very successful." And, instead of addressing criticism over Romney's comments on Palestinians, Bolton pushed the bogus narrative that Obama is anti-Israel, saying that the Obama administration views Israel as "a large source of the problems in the Middle East."
That Bolton would try to divert attention from Romney's gaffes by attacking Obama should come as no surprise. On March 27, Bolton, a former Bush administration official and Fox contributor, signed an "open letter" to Obama in which he and others were listed as "Romney Foreign Policy Advisers." The letter questioned "whether a new period of even greater weakness and inconstancy would lie ahead if you [Obama] are reelected."
During the segment, host Megyn Kelly identified Bolton as a "former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a Fox News contributor." Bolton's ties to the Romney campaign were never disclosed.
Kelly's failure to identify Bolton as a Romney foreign policy adviser is the latest example of Fox's longstanding disclosure problem. Fox has repeatedly hosted Bolton and other Romney advisers without acknowledging their ties to Romney's campaign and has heavily promoted Karl Rove's anti-Obama super PAC, American Crossroads, frequently without identifying his connection to either American Crossroads or Fox News.
Conservative media are defending charges leveled by Representative Michele Bachmann that the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to infiltrate the U.S. government. However, Bachmann's attacks, including one directed at Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, have received significant bipartisan condemnation.
From the July 12 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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Right-wing media are amplifying attacks on President Obama over his recent dismissal of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez as a threat to the United States, while ignoring that experts are in agreement with Obama.
In an interview with a Miami television station on Wednesday, Obama said, "We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe." He added, "But overall, my sense is that what Mr. Chavez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us."
In response, Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), attacked Obama for downplaying the threat of Chávez and suggested that he is weak on national security.
Experts, however, have offered assessments that support Obama's remarks. In a statement to The Miami Herald, Riordan Roett, the director of Western Hemisphere Studies and the Latin American Studies Program at John Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, dismissed the criticism as "just pure electoral politics."
Fox News contributor John Bolton suggested the Obama administration might be willing to let Iran have a nuclear weapons program in exchange for a peace settlement in Syria. But President Obama has made it clear that his policy is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and he has signed strong sanctions against Iran.