Following President Obama's speech on Afghanistan, Fox Nation went on the attack, stating that "Obama referred to himself over a dozen times [during his speech on Afghanistan] but never mentioned General [David] Petraeus, the architect of the troop surge." The criticism was followed by a full excerpt of Obama's speech on Afghanistan. From Fox Nation:
Following suit, Fox News' Sean Hannity stated: "The one thing -- I don't know if you noticed this -- I didn't hear General Petraeus' name. I heard the President mention himself, 'I, I, me, I, I, I,' I think about a dozen times. I didn't hear him mention General Petraeus in this speech. That was an omission? How is that possible?"
Unmentioned by Hannity was the fact that, while Obama did not directly thank Petraeus, he did single out our troops for thanks several times during his speech.
For instance, Obama said:
Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point.
Obama also said:
Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda's leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. One soldier summed it up well. "The message," he said, "is we don't forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes."
In this effort, we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. To our troops, our veterans and their families, I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust with you, and provide you with the care and benefits and opportunity that you deserve.
I met some of these patriotic Americans at Fort Campbell. A while back, I spoke to the 101st Airborne that has fought to turn the tide in Afghanistan, and to the team that took out Osama bin Laden. Standing in front of a model of bin Laden's compound, the Navy SEAL who led that effort paid tribute to those who had been lost -- brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where our troops stand guard overseas, and on headstones in quiet corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten. This officer -- like so many others I've met on bases, in Baghdad and Bagram, and at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital -- spoke with humility about how his unit worked together as one, depending on each other, and trusting one another, as a family might do in a time of peril.
That's a lesson worth remembering -- that we are all a part of one American family.
With confidence in our cause, with faith in our fellow citizens, and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America -- for this generation, and the next.
Fox's attack is reminiscent of a previous attack on an Obama speech ginned up by Fox executive Bill Sammon. Following Obama's 2009 address to the Muslim world in Cairo, Sammon sent an e-mail to Fox reporters, producers, and other personnel, stating that Obama did not use the words "terror," "terrorist," or "terrorism."
Sammon's email to his staff did not include any text beyond the subject line but read as follows:
From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2009 9:23 AM
To: 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 036 -FOX.WHU; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay
Subject: FYI: My cursory check of Obama's 6,000-word speech to the Muslim world did not turn up the words "terror," "terrorist" or "terrorism"
Sammon's "cursory check" quickly became the editorial focus for Fox News journalists covering Obama's speech, and was repeated (in some instances almost verbatim) by the network's hosts.
Sammon himself appeared on Fox shortly after sending the email and claimed that Obama, in not using "terrorism" or any of its variants, showed that "he has taken us off a war footing as a nation."
Just like the current Fox attack on Obama's Afghanistan speech, Sammon's criticism was misleading. Obama devoted a significant section of his remarks to denouncing and confronting Al Qaeda and other "violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security." Sammon's criticism also disregarded the analyses of Middle East and terrorism experts who viewed Obama's word choice as an effort to remove as a source of tension terms that, through overuse and misuse, have become incendiary in the Muslim world.
But Fox is apparently up to the same old tricks yet again.