For quite some time, right-wing media figures with comically poor prediction track records have tried to stir up trouble by claiming that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is planning to challenge President Obama for the Democratic nomination. These reports are universally similar: they are long on speculation and short on actual evidence.
It must be a slow news day, because today, seeking to push this storyline, Fox News basically fabricated the claim that during an event this morning, Clinton purportedly kicked off her fictitious campaign by attacking Obama's handling of the federal debt.
On America Live, Megyn Kelly aired a clip of Clinton saying at today's appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations, "I think that our rising debt levels poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally."
This was the excuse for Kelly and Monica Crowley to engage in entirely baseless speculation about whether Clinton is, in Kelly's words, "coasting along in this role of secretary of state, watching President Obama take all the hits on the economy, maybe a tweak here or there about how his policies are undermining not just our national economy, but our international security, which she does have to worry about, and then what, she emerges in a couple of years to say 'I told you so.'" Watch:
Kelly teased this segment by asking, "Did Hillary Clinton just effectively declare her candidacy for president of the United States?" The answer, of course, is no.
Fox deceptively edited the tape of Clinton's remarks, removing essential context. In fact, she made clear in the very next paragraph that she wasn't criticizing President Obama's deficit spending; she was criticizing President Bush's. Full video and relevant transcript below (emphasis added):
CLINTON: I think that our rising debt levels poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally. I mean, it is very troubling to me that we are losing the ability not only to chart our own destiny but to, you know, have the leverage that comes from this enormously effective economic engine that has powered American values and interests over so many years.
So I don't think we have a choice. It's a question of how we -- how we decide to deal with this debt and deficit. I mean, you know, it is -- we don't need to go back and sort of re-litigate how we got to where we are, but it is fair to say that, you know, we fought two wars without paying for them, and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either. And that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility.
So the challenge is how we get out of it by making the right decisions, not the wrong decisions. I mean, there's a lot of wrong things we could do that would further undermine our strength. I mean, it is going to be very difficult for those decisions.
So yes, Fox News used their typical video doctoring techniques to invent this story from nothing.