Fox News "Medical A-Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow attributed Russian president Valdimir Putin's decision to invade Crimea in part "to the psychology of Barack Obama."
In a March 11 FoxNews.com column, Ablow claimed that Putin's motivations should not be dismissed as those of a "simple thug," but rather that "Putin's psychology is being directly fueled by that of President Barack Obama." Ablow criticized Obama as unwilling to assert both personal and nationalistic power, arguing that "Barack Obama apparently believes he was placed on this earth to be the most powerful person he can be, in order to restrain America in the expression of its power."
Ablow went on to imply that Obama's domestic policy was the catalyst for Putin's decision to invade Ukraine:
How then could Vladimir Putin fail to notice the remarkable presence on the world stage of an American counterpart (Barack Obama) who is as interested as he is in disempowering the United States? How could he fail to act on the remarkable symmetry of such a moment in history? To not test the possibility that God intends him to be the instrument of a new world order, based on Russia's manifest destiny, would be contrary to every fiber in his being.
To go further, I do not believe that Vladimir Putin would miss the fact that Barack Obama has imperiled the notion of individual autonomy (by seeking to disarm Americans, by seeking to make Americans dependent on unemployment checks and food stamps and by making it officially impossible to choose how to spend your own money, via the Affordable Care Act). Since giving each individual the right to power is not the goal of this American President, why would Putin believe that taking power from others would be opposed vigorously by this President's Administration?
Ablow concluded that "If Crimea becomes part of Russia or all of Ukraine does," Putin and Obama's psychology will share the blame equally.
Right-wing columnist Marc Thiessen hypocritically attacked President Obama for taking a weekend trip during the crisis in Ukraine, ignoring the fact that, not only did President Bush deliver remarks on the 2008 invasion of Georgia while on vacation, but those remarks were delivered while Thiessen himself was Bush's head speechwriter.
In a March 10 Washington Post column, Thiessen criticized Obama for his recent trip to Florida during an ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Thiessen claimed "It's winter for democracy in Ukraine but for Obama and Biden it's spring break" and went on to claim that Obama should have delivered remarks from the Oval Office:
While more Russian forces were pouring into Crimea this past weekend, and Russian legislators announced their readiness to annex the Ukrainian province, where was our commander in chief? Monitoring events in the Situation Room? Meeting with the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon? Holding an emergency meeting of NATO leaders? Nope. He was enjoying the Florida sunshine with his family at an oceanfront resort in Key Largo.
And Vice President Biden? He was on vacation in the Virgin Islands.
It's winter for democracy in Ukraine, but for Obama and Biden it's spring break.
Both the president and the vice president go on vacation. At the same time. During an international crisis. You can't make this up.
If the president wants to use body language to send a message to Russia, the way to do it is to lean across the Resolute desk, look into a television camera and tell America and the world what is at stake in Ukraine -- and what he intends to do to help the Ukrainian people.
But Obama is not the first president to deliver remarks about Russian military aggression while on vacation -- a fact that Thiessen, of all people, should know. On August 16, 2008, during the Russian invasion into Georgia, President George W. Bush delayed a planned vacation for one day, then delivered remarks on the situation from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Those remarks were likely written, at least partially, by Thiessen himself who was Bush's chief speechwriter at the time.
Other media outlets have criticized the timing of Obama's trip to Florida without mentioning Bush's 2008 trip to Crawford, and Thiessen has recently attacked Obama for "emboldening" Putin while advocating for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline as a solution to the ongoing crisis.
Fox host Chris Wallace asked former Secretary of State Robert Gates to comment on the appropriateness of President Obama's decision to "take the weekend off in the middle of" the developing crisis in Ukraine. But in 2008, Wallace struck a much different tone during Russia's invasion of Georgia, mentioning then-President Bush's trip to his Texas ranch without a hint of criticism.
On the March 9 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Wallace joined the media in implicitly criticizing Obama for spending the weekend in Florida with his family. Wallace asked former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates if "it's helpful for president Obama to take the weekend off in the middle of what you call a crisis to be playing golf in Florida":
Wallace's concern about the president's weekend vacation flies in the face of his attitude during a similar interview following Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008. While discussing the situation with then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the August 17, 2008, edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace mentioned that Rice had joined President Bush at his Texas ranch but never once broached the appropriateness of the trip in the 13-minute interview:
WALLACE: With questions about the ceasefire and U.S.-Georgia relations, we're joined by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who's been meeting with the president in Crawford, Texas, following her trip to Georgia.
Despite President George W. Bush taking a vacation during the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia, the media ignored Bush's trip while questioning the appropriateness of President Obama's weekend trip to Florida during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
From the March 9 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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CBS' Sunday news program will reportedly only feature Republicans to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
On the March 7 edition of CBS' This Morning, Face the Nation guest host Charlie Rose announced that the "main topic" of the upcoming show would be the crisis in Ukraine. Rose also revealed that the guests the show will feature are all Republicans: Vice President Dick Cheney, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and James Baker, who was chief of staff and secretary of treasury under President Reagan and secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush:
Republicans have used the crisis in Ukraine to attack President Obama's foreign policy, including CBS' upcoming guests. Cheney attacked the President this week when asked about Putin's action, "I think that Barack Obama has conducted himself in a way consistently for the past five years that conveys a real sense of weakness." While Ryan appeared on Fox this week to blame the Russian invasion on Obama's foreign policy:
Mitt was right, I think the president was incredibly naive on his Russia policy. His reset has been a total failure and I think this is what happens when a superpower projects weakness in its foreign and defense policy, agression fills that vaccum and I think that is what is happening right now.
From the March 5 edition of CNN's The Lead:
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Fox News' Charles Krauthammer argued that the Obama administration is "unwise" for taking all U.S. military action "off the table" in response to Russia's recent invasion into Ukraine -- an apparent 180º from his position on military action when Russia invaded Georgia during President Bush's tenure.
On the March 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Baier reported that in response to Russia's invasion of the Crimea region of Ukraine, "U.S. officials say they still see no scenario, no scenario, involving military action of any kind." Fox contributor Krauthammer scoffed at the administration's stance against the use of military force, arguing "I think that's unwise to take everything off the table. What if there's a full-scale invasion all the way to Kiev? You're going to do nothing?"
During a Fox News segment discussing the release of the Clinton presidency documents, conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch accused Hillary Clinton of strategically using her concussion to avoid testifying on Benghazi while instead vacationing in the Dominican Republic. But the State Department confirmed that neither of the Clintons traveled to the Dominican Republic in December 2012.
Thousands of documents from the Clinton White House were released on February 28, leading to a media frenzy that was mocked by Fox host Shepard Smith. Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace also stated that "there's really no there there," predicting that unless something really incriminating appears, the papers will soon be forgotten.
Discussing the Clinton papers on Fox News' The Kelly File, guest host Shannon Bream implied that Hillary Clinton herself strategically cultivated rumors about her own health for her benefit. Loesch seized the opportunity to push the Benghazi hoax, accusing Clinton of taking a vacation to the Dominican Republic while using her concussion to avoid testifying before Congress about the Benghazi attack:
LOESCH: I campaigned for the Clintons when I was in college and I used to be a registered Democrat and I saw some of how the machine worked. And there are few women in politics that are as slick as Hillary Clinton. I may disagree with her on everything, but on this, she is very strategic. And so I keep going back as when they were getting ready to have the hearings on Benghazi, she had a concussion, but then she wasn't able to testify. And then a couple of days later she flew to the Dominican Republic and attended an event for Oscar de La Renta. So, could be strategic minor changes to get some empathy, we'll see.
From the February 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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From the February 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor George Will inaccurately criticized President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address for supposedly using the term "al-Qaida's core leadership" as a subtle change in language from the previous year, showing that his efforts against the terrorist organization have stalled. But a simple fact check shows Obama's statement on Tuesday regarding al Qaeda is almost identical to his 2013 speech.
During the January 29 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, Will accused Obama of substituting the more general language used to describe his efforts to fight the entire al Qaeda organization in his 2013 State of the Union address for less encompassing language only targeting "al Qaeda's core leadership" in his 2014 speech:
WILL: [L]isten to how the language has changed. One year ago in the State of the Union, the president said "[t]he organization that attacked us on 9/11 is a shadow of its former self." He didn't use the word "al Qaeda." It has a name, why didn't he use it? Because we were on the way to last night, where we now talk about core al Qaeda. "[W]e've put al-Qaida's core leadership on a path to defeat." It turns out, that the devil is in the adjective -- core leadership. And the more they use it, the less informative this gets.
But Obama explicitly mentioned his efforts to defeat the "core" of al Qaeda in both speeches. From President Obama's 2013 address:
On January 15, 2014, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a bipartisan review of its findings in an investigation of the September 11, 2012, attacks on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Much of the report dispels myths perpetuated by Fox News over the last sixteen months.
A six-part series by New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick destroyed several myths about the September 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, myths often propagated by conservative media and their allies in Congress to politicize the attack against the Obama administration.
Since the September 2012 attacks, right-wing media have seized upon various inaccurate, misleading, or just plain wrong talking points about Benghazi. Some of those talking points made their way into the mainstream, most notably onto CBS' 60 Minutes, earning the network the Media Matters' 2013 "Misinformer of the Year" title for its botched report.
Kirkpatrick's series, titled "A Deadly Mix In Benghazi," debunks a number of these right-wing talking points based on "months of investigation" and "extensive interviews" with those who had "direct knowledge of the attack." Among other points, Kirkpatrick deflates the claims that an anti-Islamic YouTube video played no role in motivating the attacks and that Al Qaeda was involved in the attack:
Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO's extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.
Fox News, scores of Republican pundits, and Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), among others, dragged then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice through the mud for citing talking points that mentioned an anti-Islamic YouTube video on Sunday morning news programs following the attacks. Despite right-wing media claims to the contrary, however, Kirkpatrick stated that the attack on the Benghazi compound was in "large part" "fueled" by the anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube. He wrote (emphasis added):
The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO's extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.
There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.
Another talking point that right-wing media used to accuse the Obama administration of a political cover-up was the removal of Al Qaeda from Rice's morning show talking points. Kirkpatrick, however, affirmed in his NYTimes report that Al Qaeda was not involved in the attack in Benghazi (emphasis added):
But the Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda's international terrorist network. The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda, according to several officials briefed on the call. But when the friend heard the attacker's boasts, he sounded astonished, the officials said, suggesting he had no prior knowledge of the assault.
Kirkpatrick also dispelled the notion that the attack on the compound was carefully planned, writing that "the attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs."
This NYTimes report should lay to rest these long-debunked yet oft-repeated talking points on the part of both right-wing media and their conservative allies.
For more on conservative media myths about the September 2012 attack, read The Benghazi Hoax, the e-book by Media Matters' David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt.
As part of the latest hoax about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News is distorting a document recently unearthed by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
Fox and Judicial Watch are trying to keep alive the phony right-wing narrative that the Obama administration somehow covered up the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, in which four Americans were killed.
A December 12 FoxNews.com article about the Judicial Watch documents says, "Newly released documents show an official at the State Department urged a contractor providing security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi not to respond to media inquiries, in the wake of the September 2012 terrorist attack."
Thus far, the only portion of the "documents" that Judicial Watch has released is an out-of-context, three-sentence quote from an email sent by State Department contracting officer Jan Visintainer to Blue Mountain Group, a firm that helped provide security at the diplomatic post in Benghazi. The email is dated September 26, 2012 -- about two weeks after the attacks.
In reality, the quote from the email shows that Blue Mountain Group first suggested declining to speak with the media, and Visintainer agreed that this was the correct course. Visintainer also said he spoke about the matter with public affairs personnel at the State Department.
Here is the entirety of the quote cited by Judicial Watch and Fox News:
"Thank you so much for informing us about the media inquiries. We notified our public affairs personnel that they too may receive some questions. We concur with you that at the moment the best way to deal with the inquiries is to either be silent or provide no comments."
Yet, in a blog post misleadingly titled "State Dept. Ordered Benghazi Security Co. to Dodge Media," Judicial Watch called this email "scandalous."
No matter. Fox News and others in the conservative media are more than happy to forward this latest exaggeration to continue to push their Benghazi hoax.
Image via Steve Rhodes