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."
Rep. Paul Ryan's poverty proposal, which would in part punish impoverished Americans for not getting themselves out of poverty on a specific timeline, is based on the conservative myth pushed by right-wing media that blames poverty on individuals' "spirit" and personal life choices. Experts say poverty is the result of systemic inequality and lack of opportunity.
Fox News' Sean Hannity is currently visiting the Texas border and criticizing President Obama for not doing so during the developing humanitarian crisis. But in 2012, when President Obama visited regions devastated by Hurricane Sandy, Hannity lashed out at the president for his "photo-op" trip.
On July 9, President Obama visited Texas, meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) and local officials to discuss the administration's response to the crisis and called on Congress to approve billions in emergency aid funding for the region. But Obama chose not to visit the Texas border with Mexico to view the developing refugee crisis, in which thousands of children are fleeing violence in Central America. At a news conference he explained: "There is nothing taking place down there that I'm not intimately aware of and briefed on. This isn't theater. This is a problem. I'm not interested in photo ops. I'm interested in solving the problem."
Conservatives attacked Obama for his comments, often falsely suggesting that he had expressed a broad aversion to doing photo-ops in general.
In response, Hannity, who is touring the border with Perry in preparation for a special edition of his Fox News program, tweeted asking "shouldn't the president be down here too?" He also tweeted photos showing himself traveling with Texas Highway Patrol gunships on the Rio Grande, which look for drug cartels along the border, and posing with the Governor and several guns:
Glad to be on the border with @GovernorPerry but shouldn't the president be down here too?-- Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 10, 2014
With Gov Perry pic.twitter.com/oLaxlpwgp8-- Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 10, 2014
Texas border patrol pic.twitter.com/QxFCn0GccK-- Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 10, 2014
Based on past precedent, if Obama had actually toured the border, Hannity would have criticized him for that as well.
Newly released transcripts of congressional testimony from nine military officers confirmed that no "stand down" order was issued during the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, again debunking Fox News' constantly-cited myth.
The Associated Press reported July 10 that previously classified testimony given to Congress from the military officers "undermines contentions by Republican lawmakers that a 'stand-down order' held back military assets that could have saved the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed at a diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya." Instead, the military officers confirmed that the Special Operations team of four who were in Tripoli that night "were instructed to help protect and care for those being evacuated from Benghazi and from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. The senior military officer who issued the instruction to 'remain in place' and the detachment leader who received it said it was the right decision and has been widely mischaracterized."
This new testimony confirms previous reports that debunked the false claim that someone in the Obama administration or military had denied assistance to Americans at the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi the night of the terrorist attacks. Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, the former commander of a four-member Army Special Forces unit in Tripoli, Libya, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both told congressional committees over a year ago that no stand down order was given. Multiple CIA senior officers have repeatedly denied the false charge. In early 2014, a House Armed Services Committee report and a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report put the myth to rest.
As Media Matters previously noted, Fox News was a primary force behind the false "stand down" story claim. Just a month after the attacks they repeatedly suggested that the Obama administration had made a "political decision" to allow Americans to be killed, and pushed variations on the false "stand down" narrative in 85 primetime segments in the following months. The network has continued to push the myth long after it was debunked, citing questions of why military aid was supposedly withheld as a rationale for the establishment of the House select committee on Benghazi.
A six-member quick reaction team and 60 Libyan militiamen in Benghazi responded to the attack, and reinforcements from the embassy in Tripoli arrived the same night.
The Daily Caller may have been duped by the Cuban government when they published a series of stories accusing Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) of allegedly patronizing prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, according to new allegations. The Daily Caller previously came under fire for not sufficiently scrutinizing the story before running with it on their front page.
The Washington Post reported on July 7 that Menendez's lawyer sent a letter to the Justice Department asserting that Cuba's Directorate of Intelligence pushed the false claims in an unsuccessful effort to derail Menendez's reelection campaign. The senator is "one of Washington's most ardent critics of the Castro regime," according to the Post.
A former U.S. official also told the Post that the CIA has "obtained credible evidence, including Internet protocol addresses, linking Cuban agents to the prostitution claims." According to the intelligence information, the Cuban agents helped create a fake tipster named "Pete Williams," who told FBI agents and others that Menendez had solicited prostitutes while vacationing in the Dominican Republic. The Post noted, however, that there "was no indication that the information gathered by U.S. intelligence officials alleging Cuba's role in the Menendez case had been fully investigated or proved."
The charges against Menendez were first touted by The Daily Caller in November 2012, which relied on the testimony of two alleged Dominican prostitutes who claimed Menendez had paid them. Matt Boyle, the reporter behind the first Daily Caller story, now writes for Breitbart News.
Fox News aggressively hyped the uncorroborated allegations during at least 22 segments in the following months, according to a search of the Nexis database.
The story began to disintegrate, however, when the Post reported that one of the women had recanted her story and claimed in an affidavit that she was paid to lie about the senator. The FBI has also reportedly found no evidence backing up the tipster's claims, or even linking his emails "back to a real person."
Fox Business host Charles Payne tried to put a negative spin on the news that the unemployment rate fell in June, tweeting that it might be "too good for the stock market."
Economists and business reporters praised the numbers from the July 3 Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report. That report found an increase in total nonfarm payroll employment of 288,000 in June, with unemployment decreasing to 6.1 percent, the lowest rate since September 2008.
Payne immediately attempted to negatively spin the report, asking in a tweet "is the jobs number too good for the stock market?"
Is the jobs number too good for the stock market...equity futures are drifting lower not sure how to react-- Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) July 3, 2014
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently near 17,000. When President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, it was at 8,279.63.
Lisa Sendrow, whose experience of college sexual assault was dismissed by The Washington Post's George Will, slammed the columnist for silencing the voices of survivors and rejected the idea she received any privileges from her status as a survivor, as Will suggested. Instead, she said she was diagnosed with PTSD following her assault and received violent threats after her story was first reported.
Will's June 6 column sparked outrage from women's organizations, U.S. senators, and college rape survivors for suggesting that sexual assault victims -- or people who Will decided were only claiming to be sexual assault victims -- enjoyed "a coveted status that confers privileges." To make his point, Will relied on an anecdote from a Philadelphia magazine article about a young woman from Swarthmore College, implying that he didn't believe her story qualified as an actual incident of assault:
Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. "sexual assault." Herewith, a Philadelphia magazine report about Swarthmore College, where in 2013 a student "was in her room with a guy with whom she'd been hooking up for three months":
"They'd now decided -- mutually, she thought -- just to be friends. When he ended up falling asleep on her bed, she changed into pajamas and climbed in next to him. Soon, he was putting his arm around her and taking off her clothes. 'I basically said, "No, I don't want to have sex with you." And then he said, "OK, that's fine" and stopped. . . . And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn't do anything -- I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.'"
Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped. Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of "sexual assault" victims.
Will didn't name the woman in his column, but Philadelphia magazine did -- this is Lisa Sendrow's story.
Sendrow graduated from Swarthmore in 2013 and now works as a legal assistant. She told Media Matters in an interview over the weekend that she first "tried to avoid the Will piece as much as possible," but after friends pressed her to read it she found the column "infuriating," and felt that his dismissal of her story was dangerous to survivors.
"No one wants to hear that you brought this on yourself," she said, while discussing her reaction to Will's piece. "No one wants to relive the experience or tell that story, when they haven't really had a chance to reflect. You can't really heal if people are telling you that it's your fault. But that's what Will did."
Sendrow explained that she has experienced sexual assault multiple times, but decided to officially report this particular experience and talk to Philadelphia magazine in part because at the time she worked as an advocate for survivors on a campus hotline. "I realized that I could no longer be an advocate and tell survivors to go to the college and report if I wasn't going myself." But the decision wasn't easy, and that contributed to her choosing to wait before initially reporting. "The fact that Will said I waited [to report the assault] -- most women wait awhile. You have to think about what happened, you have to heal."
Research from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that 1 in 5 women had been sexually assaulted while in college, and repeat victimization is common. Reporting rates are particularly low on campuses, and campus assailants tend to be repeat offenders. "This is the only sexual assault I've ever reported," Sendrow noted, "because I felt I was the most safe reporting this one."
She added that she "was also raised to think I put myself in this situation, and it took me a really long time. After hearing others' stories I realized it wasn't my fault -- I was raped. I didn't want to be diminished, I didn't want to be afraid."
While the Philadelphia magazine story clearly documented a serious example of sexual assault (notably, Sendrow specifically stated that she did not consent), Sendrow felt that the magazine took her story and others out of context and omitted key details, "which was exactly what we didn't want to happen." Her assault was "more violent than what [the Philadelphia magazine reporter] wrote. The way he made it seem was very small in comparison." Sendrow added that she received "very threatening" messages from her attacker days after the assault, which the Philadelphia story hadn't included. She had hoped that talking to the media would in part help other survivors by showing they no longer had to be afraid and that their stories couldn't be diminished, and was frustrated when that was "exactly what [Will's column] did."
Sendrow also vehemently rejected Will's claim that survivors might have a coveted status. "I absolutely have not received any privileges from sexual assault. [Will] has clearly never experienced the fear of sexual assault," she said. "He clearly has no idea how hard it is to sleep, to walk around, thinking at any moment this person that you live down the hall from could come out."
She saw a counselor and was diagnosed with PTSD following the assault, she said, which "is pretty common for a lot of survivors I know. It did not help my grades, it did not help my social status. I lost a lot of friends ... No one tells you, 'oh you're a survivor, let me give you a free lunch.' No one gives a shit about you. What benefit could we possibly get? Sometimes I feel like I can't have a real relationship because someone might touch me in the wrong way. How is that okay?"
Sendrow told Media Matters she received violent threats after the Philadelphia article was published. One threat said that she and the other women quoted in the story "deserved to be stoned." Others said "I should be raped again, or 'really' raped, that I was a slut, you know, using my sexual background to say I deserved it."
For Sendrow, most upsetting about Will's column was that "he was politicizing sexual assault, he's a conservative columnist, but why should sexual assault be political?" She criticized him for putting the term sexual assault in quotation marks, implying doubt in survivors' stories, and for using her personal story to "describe the experience of all survivors, and [making] it seem very small." She added, "it was mostly upsetting because I don't feel like survivors' voices were heard."
Will's full column, Sendrow said, made it feel "as if women don't have a voice. Anything bad that happens to a woman, it doesn't matter, because we're the ones who are at fault. And this is already what we're told every single day," she concluded. "We're raised all our lives to think this isn't an issue. But this is an issue. This is why people are triggered, this is why people have PTSD. People will go through their lives thinking rape culture isn't real."
In the end, Sendrow wondered whether Will would have been able to similarly dismiss her story of assault if it came from someone close to him.
"What if [Will's] daughter -- I don't know if he has a daughter -- but would he say to her, that this didn't happen?" she asked. "If she came to him crying, or even not crying, but if she came to him and told him this story, would he just say it wasn't real?"
For more than twenty years, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has been attacking Hillary Clinton from a shallow well of insults, routinely portraying the former secretary of state and first lady as an unlikeable, power-hungry phony.
Media Matters analyzed 195 columns by Dowd since November 1993 containing significant mentions of Clinton for whether they included any of 16 negative tropes in five categories (listed in the below methodology). 72 percent (141 columns) were negative towards Clinton -- only 8 percent (15 columns) were positive. The remaining 20 percent (39 columns) were neutral.
For example, Dowd has repeatedly accused Clinton of being an enemy to or betraying feminism (35 columns, 18 percent of those studied), power-hungry (51 columns, 26 percent), unlikeable (9 columns, 5 percent), or phony (34 columns, 17 percent). She's also attacked the Clintons as a couple in 43 columns (22 percent), many of which included Dowd's ham-handed attempts at psychoanalysis.
Dowd's latest column discussed Clinton's book tour for her new memoir Hard Choices. In a tortured comparison, Dowd compared Clinton to Elsa from the popular Disney movie Frozen. Dowd concluded, "Those close to them think that the queen of Hillaryland and the Snow Queen from Disney's 'Frozen' have special magical powers, but worry about whether they can control those powers, show their humanity and stir real warmth in the public heart."
Dowd described Clinton's memoir as "a testament to caution and calculation," an accusation she has lobbed at the former secretary state for decades. Dowd called Clinton "scarred and defensive" and asserted that she lives in an "ice palace." The Frozen comparison is one of dozens of pop culture references Dowd has invoked in her writing about Clinton.
Dowd has stuck to this script for over two decades now, and shows no signs of letting go.
Nearly 40 percent of Fox News' interview of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was devoted to the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, worth over $2 million in publicity value.
On June 17, Fox anchors Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren interviewed Clinton during her book tour for her new memoir, Hard Choices. Baier started the interview by asking Clinton about the capture earlier that day of a suspect in the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities and focused on Benghazi for most of his questions.
According to a Media Matters analysis, Baier devoted 12 minutes and 16 seconds to questioning Clinton about Benghazi during the interview -- 38 percent of the total interview, which was 32 minutes and 10 seconds long. According to TVEyes' "national publicity value," the time Fox News devoted to Benghazi during the interview carried a value of approximately $2,169,986.34.
Previously, Media Matters found that just two weeks of Fox's obsessive Benghazi coverage in early May was worth over $124 million. TVEyes Media Monitoring Suite, a subscription-only database of television broadcasts, estimates the value of 30-second slots on any given program. Fox's June 17 interview with Clinton was estimated at $88,450.53 per 30 seconds.
Fox News personalities are questioning the timing of the Obama administration's capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, suspected leader of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, ignoring the complicated logistics involved in carrying out the dangerous apprehension in an unstable foreign country.