CNN cited the Drudge Report to legitimize the false right-wing talking point that President Obama has gone on an apology tour, though numerous fact checkers, independent media analysts, and even CNN have denounced it as phony.
In a segment previewing tonight's presidential foreign policy debate, CNN host Carol Costello cited the Drudge Report and its "many pictures of President Obama supposedly bowing to foreign leaders" to bring up "this idea of an apology tour conducted by the president."
She then linked the fake apology meme with the Obama administration's reported talks with Iran on that country's nuclear program, and asked how both would figure in the debate.
In fact, as The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler noted, the apology tour "never happened." In giving the claim its highest false rating, "Pants on Fire," PolitiFact also called the charge "ridiculous." The Associated Press added: "Obama has not apologized for America" and concluded that "there has been no formal -- or informal -- apology."
During the segment, CNN contributor LZ Granderson pointed out that this is a phony political argument and noted that Republicans have repeatedly used this line to criticize Obama's foreign policy. Granderson said: "There's nothing in transcripts to suggest he apologized. They're just using this to try and make him look weak."
Addressing CNN contributor Will Cain, Costello countered: "Well, still, Will, I have heard Governor Romney say that line a million times, 'I will not apologize for America.' "
But as Kessler noted in his fact check, this is a lie that Romney refuses to abandon. "Despite earning Four Pinocchios for months, Romney keeps saying this," Kessler wrote.
Moreover, CNN itself has debunked it. When Republican Congressman Peter King trotted out the apology line on Starting Point, host Soledad O'Brien noted that this framing has been adopted by Republicans to criticize Obama. O'Brien went on to shoot down King's theory, pointing to the fact that FactCheck.org has found it baseless. King replied: "I don't care what FactCheck says."
Which raises the question: Despite earning Four Pinocchios, why is CNN legitimizing this?