Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates destroyed the right-wing narrative that his memoir attacks President Obama's approach to the war in Afghanistan, a narrative instigated by Bob Woodward and subsequently perpetuated by Fox News.
Gates' memoir, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, caused widespread controversy preceding its January 14 release because of how Gates characterized the Obama administration's handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a January 13 interview on NBC's Today with co-host Matt Lauer, Gates explained that "what has been lost in the news media is that I actually agreed with virtually every decision President Obama made on Afghanistan." Gates opened the interview lamenting that the "book has sort of been hijacked by people along the political spectrum to serve their own purposes, taking quotes out of context and so on."
Following the release of excerpts from Gates' memoir, media figures seized on the selective quotes to attack President Obama. On January 7, The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, a vocal critic of the Obama administration, characterized Gates' memoir as a damning critique of Obamathat "unleashes harsh judgements about President Obama's leadership" in Afghanistan. But Woodward's own accounts of the book's contents -- he acknowledged later in the piece that Gates believed "Obama was right" on each of his decisions regarding Afghanistan -- undermined his article.
Fox News personalities quickly followed suit. In a January 8 op-ed on FoxNews.com, Fox national security analyst K.T. McFarland used Gates' memoir to claim that Obama committed troops to a strategy he didn't believe in, saying, "Obama had concluded early on that the surge was a lost cause, but he went ahead anyway," a fallacious conclusion in light of Gates' comments.
In a January 13 column on FoxNews.com, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin echoed Woodward, claiming:
The former defense secretary offers the most devastating critique to come from an Obama insider. He paints the president as estranged from the very Afghan military surge he ordered and suspicious of and hostile toward top leaders of the armed forces.
On the January 13 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox military analyst retired Gen. Jack Keane claimed Gates' memoir showed "President Bush wanted to win and President Obama, simply put, wanted to get out."
Even after the attack was debunked, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs has repeatedly claimed that the Department of Justice helped pay for anti-Zimmerman protests.
On the July 17 edition of his show, Dobbs criticized civil rights leader Al Sharpton for organizing 100 protests around the country in the wake of the George Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin. Guest Michael Goodwin alleged that "I wouldn't doubt that somewhere the Justice Department's going to be helping him with the tour." Dobbs responded by claiming that you know that "the Justice Department paid to help demonstrations against George Zimmerman last year":
The attack is based on the release of documents by the right-wing website Judicial Watch, which used the documents to falsely accuse the DOJ of supporting anti-Zimmerman protests. The documents released by Judicial Watch do not show that the DOJ was "organizing anti-Zimmerman rallies" -- only that a unit within the DOJ, the Community Relations Service, was providing support and technical assistance for the protests to prevent violence, not organize protests.
Right-wing media figures distorted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's congressional testimony to attack President Obama over the response to the terror attack on the Benghazi consulate. In fact, Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey explained that the attack occurred in two waves separated by large blocks of time, and White House officials were engaged with military throughout the incident.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade accused President Obama of "threatening tax hikes for everyone in order to get what he wants" over his proposal to let income taxes on the top 2 percent of earners rise to their 1990s levels. That is a completely misleading way to describe a popular proposal that maintains current income tax rates for 98 percent of families -- a proposal that Obama successfully campaigned on.
Furthermore, the Senate has already passed legislation extending the middle-class cuts, but the Republican leadership refuses to allow a vote on it in the House. (House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has said she will try to force a vote if Republicans continue to refuse to move the legislation forward.)
On January 1, the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 are scheduled to expire, and tax rates will rise for all workers. This increase will cost the average middle-class family about $2,000 and represents a substantial portion of the budget changes set to kick in next year that economists warn will induce a new recession.
Obama's proposal has broad support among the population. A recent Washington Post/ABC poll found that 60 percent of Americans "back higher taxes on higher incomes," a result that exactly matches the figures from Election Day exit polling. A poll from United Press International found that "[m]ost U.S. voters say they believe the wealthy should be taxed more" and that support for higher taxes on the wealthy "sweeps across gender, education, race, and region."
During the December 3 edition of Fox & Friends, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin helped Kilmeade push this specious narrative. Goodwin falsely claimed that Obama "wants Congress to give him the power to raise taxes now on the top 2 percent of income and put off entitlement reform and spending reductions until later."
Obama has actually signed over $1.5 trillion in spending cuts into law and has proposed $360 billion in specific cuts to Medicare. He also signed the Affordable Care Act, which reduced unnecessary Medicare expenses by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Natural gas can help the U.S. transition away from reliance on coal in the near-term if it is produced responsibly. But conservative media have dismissed the risks involved with the rapid spread of natural gas extraction to push for deregulation, attack the Obama administration, and ignore the need for a comprehensive energy policy to transition to renewable energy.
In 2010, 48.8 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, including 16.2 million children. The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression has swelled the numbers of Americans receiving SNAP benefits (commonly referred to as food stamps) to more than 46 million people.
But according to Fox contributor and New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin, the problem that struggling Americans receiving SNAP benefits have isn't really hunger or poverty. It's that they're not ashamed enough about taking the help.
Plugging his latest Post column on this morning's Fox & Friends, Goodwin lamented that the "sense of shame is gone" in receiving government assistance.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Are too many Americans avoiding work to collect welfare? Well, check this out. Just last year, 45 million Americans received food stamps. That's a 70 percent increase since President Obama took office. So you have to wonder: Are entitlements the new American dream. Joining me now, Michael Goodwin, Fox News contributor and columnist for the New York Post. You know, I almost get a stomach ache saying that because when you think of the American dream, you certainly don't think about handouts, but is that what we're becoming?
GOODWIN: Well, it's interesting. The thing I write about in here is the idea that shame used to be part of this. In other words, people didn't want to accept a handout because they were ashamed to do it. There was a kind of social contract that said you don't do it. You're independent, you're reliant. That was part of the American founding virtue, as Charles Murray calls them.
And yet now we look at them, we see this explosion of entitlements. The sense of shame is gone. So I focus this week on food stamps, which I think is a real cultural issue, because it's now 47 million people in the country are on food stamps.
Goodwin is upset that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently proposed regulations that would prohibit New York City from fingerprinting food stamp applicants. In his Post column, Goodwin calls this opposition to the city's policy part of the "left's war on shame."
But Cuomo and advocates for the hungry say that the city's policy causes some people who are eligible not to apply for assistance because of the stigma associated with fingerprinting. The New York Times quoted Albany Bishop Howard J. Hubbard as saying, "Poverty and hunger are not crimes."
According to Jennifer March-Joly Further, executive director of the Citizens' Committee for Children, "The finger-imaging requirement has long deterred thousands upon thousands of potentially eligible applicants from applying for food stamps."
Goodwin joins the growing list of Fox News figures who have demonized those who receive food stamps and minimized the struggles of poor Americans. Charles Payne once castigated the poor for not being sufficiently ashamed of their poverty. Stuart Varney dismissed "the image we have of poor people as starving and living in squalor," claiming that "many of them have things -- what they lack is the richness of spirit." Sean Hannity recently urged people struggling with food insecurity to make pots of beans and rice "for relatively negligible amounts of money," claiming that the "idea Americans are going to bed hungry" isn't true.
Nearly 50 million Americans are struggling with food insecurity. Fox News wants them to pass a shame test before they can get help to buy food.
From the March 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Several conservative foreign policy and military experts have agreed with President Obama's decision to apologize to Afghanistan for the burning of Qurans by U.S. military personnel. Ignoring these experts, Fox News' conservative hosts and pundits have tried to flame outrage over Obama's apology.
Fox News figures are lambasting President Obama as "weak" for apologizing to Afghans after U.S. military personnel burned copies of the Quran. This criticism is bizarre, as Obama's reaction to the incident is fully consistent with U.S. precedent: in 2008, President Bush similarly apologized to Iraq's prime minister following the desecration of a Quran by American military personnel.
In his November 30 New York Post column, Fox News contributor Michael Goodwin claimed that President Obama thinks "[g]overning is beneath him" and "wants to change everything about" America. From The New York Post:
The questions are rhetorical in that we know what the president has been doing and why. He plays golf and campaigns. Governing is beneath him.
He doesn't talk much to members of Congress or his own Cabinet. They're beneath him.
His connection to the public consists of speeches before large crowds, and he ducks behind the curtain and into the security bubble as soon as he finishes. The people are beneath him.
Warped by a sense of entitlement and self-aggrandizement, Obama refuses to take responsibility for finding practical solutions to problems. He prefers the glory of transformation rather than the roll-the-sleeves-up work of reform.
When he can't get his way, he appoints a czar and ignores Congress. Democracy is beneath him.
He could have brokered a deficit deal, but doing so would have demolished his campaign slogan that Republicans are to blame for everything. Any deal would give him ownership of the results, and end the fiction that politics are beneath him.
The campaign of 2008 looked brilliant because campaigns showcase Obama's one real talent -- blaming someone else for blocking the way to Utopia.
On that basis, he got the job. But now we know the terrible truth: Actually being president is beneath him, too.
From the October 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Two recently released polls show that an increasing number of Americans believe the falsehood that President Obama is a Muslim. According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of people who believe this false claim cite the media as the source of that information -- and, indeed, the right-wing media have incessantly promoted this lie.
Following Israel's raid on a Palestinian aid flotilla that resulted in nine deaths, the right-wing media has strained to find ways to blame President Obama for the incident from criticizing his foreign policy to attempting to link him to the Gaza flotilla through Bill Ayers and Jodie Evans.
From the April 21 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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In recent days, Fox News and the conservative media have seized on the official logo of the Nuclear Security Summit to claim its image "looks like" an Islamic crescent. However, as Comedy Central's Jon Stewart noted, "the inspiration for the logo is actually the Rutherford-Bohr Model of the atom that we all learned about in high school."