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.
Today, Fox News contributor John Bolton described President Obama as "the most hostile" president towards Israel in that nation's history, a description completely at odds with recent positive comments Israel's own leaders have made about the U.S.- Israel relationship under Obama.
Indeed, Israeli President Shimon Peres recently said nearly the exact opposite, stating that under Obama the nations have enjoyed "the best relationship on the issue of security" in their histories, while foreign minister Ehud Barak has said, "I can hardly remember a better period of support."
Appearing on America Live to discuss Mitt Romney's planned visit to Israel, former UN ambassador Bolton said that "this president is the most hostile to Israel of any American president since the state of Israel was formed in 1948" and that Obama "has mistreated Israel."
Fox News contributor and former Bush administration official John Bolton took to the pages of The Washington Times today to attack the Obama administration for negotiating with Iran in order to put pressure on Israel not to pre-emptively strike Iran's nuclear facilities. However, in dismissing the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts with Iran, Bolton failed to note the dangers of war with Iran and that there are significant questions about whether Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons at all.
U.S. negotiators rushed to Israel, as anonymous sources breathlessly leaked, to provide reassurances that Mr. Obama still had Israel's back. More likely, our diplomats argued that Baghdad had gone so well that Israel shouldn't even think about pre-emptively striking Iran's nuclear weapons program. Undoubtedly, the Israelis smiled politely while deciding silently to ratchet up planning to do just that. This is a fine irony because both Mr. Obama and Iran surely intended the talks to produce precisely the opposite pressure on Israel to stand idle as more diplomatic "progress" unfolded.
The real issue here is physics, not political or diplomatic hype, notwithstanding the endless pop psychology of media commentators and administration spin artists. They could save themselves time and trouble by focusing instead on Iran's spinning centrifuges and the ever-closer danger it actually will possess nuclear weapons.
That reality should govern U.S. policy. While, unfortunately, it does not, it is decidedly the driving factor for Israel, as past Israeli strikes against hostile nuclear programs demonstrate. We can opine endlessly on the consequences for our upcoming elections, but Jerusalem will be guided by physical realities, not by political or diplomatic shadow-boxing.
But Bolton at no point mentions the potential consequences of a strike on Iran. Meir Dagan, the former director of Israel's national intelligence agency, the Mossad, has said that an Israeli strike on Iran would likely lead to a regional war.
From the May 15 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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From the May 10 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News has repeatedly hosted advisers to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney without disclosing that they are helping his campaign. Media Matters examined recent appearances by advisers John Bolton, Jay Sekulow, and Walid Phares, who have all appeared on Fox News and criticized the Obama administration.
Bolton and Phares are Fox News contributors, while Sekulow is a frequent Fox News guest.
Bolton, a Romney foreign policy adviser, said on Fox News that Obama's foreign policy is "confused and incoherent and incompetent" and defended Romney's foreign policy experience. Sekulow, a Romney legal adviser, has repeatedly appeared on Fox to attack the Obama administration on a variety of legal issues. And Phares, a member of Romney's foreign policy and national security advisory team, has criticized the Obama administration's handling of Syria and Afghanistan on Fox.
Fox News routinely violates journalistic ethics. Last week, Media Matters noted that Fox News has aggressively promoted Karl Rove's Super PAC American Crossroads, often without disclosing Rove's connection to either American Crossroads or Fox News.
Once again, the right-wing media are working hard to create a controversy where none exists. This time, they're attacking President Obama for telling Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would have "more flexibility" to negotiate on the issue of missile defense after the November election. In the opinion of these media conservatives, Obama's comments are further evidence that he is "surrendering America." In fact, according to Obama, he was referring to the fact that anything he could do on missile defense would require bipartisan buy-in, which is not very likely during an election year.
Following a meeting on Monday with Medvedev in Seoul, South Korea, Obama told the Russian president, "On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it's important for him to give me space," adding: "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility." Medvedev responded: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin]." The comments were intended to be private, but were picked up by a hot microphone.
Cue the outrage. Conservative blogger Doug Powers, writing at MichelleMalkin.com, accused Obama of "capitulation." Hot Air's Ed Morrissey blasted the incident as proof that American voters "need to fear an Obama second term." The headline of a post by Breitbart.com's editor in chief, Joel Pollak, read: "Obama to Putin: I'll Surrender America After Re-Election." Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft wrote that Obama "explained his secret plans to sell out America and her allies" and "told Medvedev to wait until after his reelection to sell out American security." Fox News contributor Palin wrote of the incident: "Let this exchange be a warning to voters: President Obama will have 'more flexibility' to weaken us if he's re-elected in November." Fox News contributor and former Bush administration official John Bolton called Obama's comments "a fire bell in the night" and accused the president of "giving way on American missile defense, defending our homeland."
But Obama explained today that he was talking about the difficulty in an election year of getting the bipartisan agreement necessary to negotiate on important foreign policy issues. Obama said: "This is not a matter of hiding the ball." He added: "The only way I get this stuff done is if I'm consulting with the Pentagon, if I'm consulting with Congress, if I've got bipartisan support, and the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations."
And bipartisan buy-in is important. In 2010, the right-wing media claimed that Obama was "compromising our missile defense capabilities" by negotiating the New START treaty with Russia. In fact, military leaders strongly supported New START. At the time, 13 Republicans were willing to ignore the right-wing media freak-out and vote for New START, allowing the treaty to attain the support of two-thirds of the Senate needed for ratification. But instructively, that vote did not happen until a lame-duck session after the midterm elections were concluded. Does anyone believe Obama would get so much Republican support on a controversial issue during an election year?
Writing in Foreign Policy, Harvard University international affairs professor Stephen M. Walt listed his "Top Ten Media Failures in the 2012 Iran War Scare" and provides examples of media outlets that he believes are responsible for those failures. One other media outlet that quickly comes to mind as an example of extremely poor Iran coverage is Fox News.
For some time now, Fox's coverage of the Iran debate has left much to be desired, and indeed, Fox has committed many of the "top ten media failures" that Walt identified.
"#1 Mainstreaming the war." Walt wrote that media outlets repeatedly push the idea that "war is imminent, likely, inevitable, etc.," which could potentially "convince the public that it is going to happen sooner or later and it discourages people from looking for better alternatives." Fox has done this repeatedly. For example, Fox military analyst Jack Keane said on Happening Now: "I think it's inevitable" that the United States will have "some kind of conflict" with Iran. Regular Fox guest and former CIA official Michael Scheuer has likewise said that the U.S. is "going to war against the Iranians," and Fox News host Sean Hannity has even said that he thinks war with Iran "has already started."
"#2: Loose talk about Iran's 'nuclear [weapons] program.' " Walt stated that a "recurring feature of Iran war coverage has been tendency to refer to Iran's 'nuclear weapons program' as if its existence were an established fact." Fox has done this too. During an appearance on America's Newsroom, Fox News national security analyst KT McFarland distorted comments by Secretary of Defense and former CIA director Leon Panetta to claim that "Iran will have a nuclear weapon in a year or sooner," co-host Martha MacCallum failed to point out that there are significant questions about whether Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons at all.
Indeed, 2007 and 2011 National Intelligence Estimates found no conclusive evidence that Iran is even trying to build a bomb. And in January 31 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reiterated the fact that the U.S. intelligence committee does not have evidence to say that Iran is trying to build a bomb.