Many times during the Iraq war, Fox News came to the defense of President Bush, arguing that those critical of the war were "aiding the terrorists" and "undermining" the president. Yet in the past several weeks, Fox has gone all out in attacking Obama for the U.S. military presence in Libya, often painting the operations there as "not [going] well" and criticizing Obama's leadership.
FLASHBACK: Fox Attacked Criticism Of Iraq War As Tantamount To "Aiding The Terrorists"
Cavuto: "Are Democratic Leaders Who Criticize The War In Iraq Actually Aiding The Terrorists?" On the May 22, 2006, edition of Your World, host Neil Cavuto said: "Are Democratic leaders who criticize the war in Iraq actually aiding the terrorists? Why Nevada Senator John Ensign [R] says, 'You bet they are.'" [Fox News, Your World, 5/23/06]
Hannity: "Are Democratic Lawmakers Going Too Far In Their Attacks Against The War And The President And The Commander In Chief While Troops Are In Harm's Way?" On the November 18, 2005, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity interviewed G. Gordon Liddy and Fox News political analyst Susan Estrich about an upcoming vote on drawing down troops in Iraq. From the show:
HANNITY: But first the growing controversy on Capitol Hill over the war in Iraq. It reached a fevered pitch yesterday when Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha called for the immediate withdrawal of American troops. Earlier today, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry got into the mix. He defended Congressman Murtha.
HANNITY: Senator Kerry, of course, wanted to fight a more sensitive war. So are Congressman Murtha's critics out of line or are Democratic lawmakers going too far in their attacks against the war and the president and the commander in chief while troops are in harm's way?
Joining us now to talk about all of today's developments, FOX News political analyst Susan Estrich. Of course, she's the author of "The Case for Hillary Clinton."
And nationally syndicated radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy is with us.
You know, G. Gordon, now that Congressman Murtha said it's time to bring the troops home, they have called the president a liar, they've said he's hyped, they said he's misled. Now with everything we now know, do they want to surrender? They want to continue and see this important battle in the war on terror? Isn't this an important moment in American history? I believe it's a matter of life and death for our future. [Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 11/18/05, via Nexis]
Hannity: "You Guys Ought To Be Ashamed ... For Criticizing A War When Our Troops Are On The Line." On the November 16, 2005, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity told guest Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) that "[y]ou guys [in Congress] ought to be ashamed ... for criticizing a war when our troops are on the line." [Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 11/16/05, via Nexis]
O'Reilly: "[T]o Call The President And Vice President Liars, I Don't Think It's Right ... [Those On] The Far Left ... Are Undermining The President's Position In The World." On the November 17, 2005, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly interviewed then-GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel about ongoing events in Iraq. From the show:
O'REILLY: You know, I kind of sympathize. I just finished a newspaper column. And it said, look, I don't mind anybody dissenting from the Iraq War. I think we have to have the debate. Very difficult situation. But to call the president and vice president liars, I don't think it's right. What say you?
HAGEL: Well, I've never actually heard anyone call the president or vice president a liar.
O'REILLY: How about Howard Dean?
HAGEL: Well, I didn't hear it, so I don't know. I don't listen a lot to Howard Dean, quite frankly, Bill. But I think both sides here, the administration and the Democrats, have got to understand one thing.
War should never be captive to politics. It should never be put in the perspective of the context of politics. Republicans and Democrats both die in war. This is a serious an issue as a nation will ever face when we're at war.
And I think a legitimate debate, what we did in the Senate two days ago, Bill, we passed an amendment sponsored by a conservative Republican, chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, Senator Warner, to force the administration to start giving the Congress some plans, some development of what the future's going to be in Iraq. I think that's appropriate. That was an appropriate debate. That was a responsible debate.
O'REILLY: I agree with you. I want the debate. I think the Bush administration has to be more open with the American people and with Congress. And this is a very, very difficult situation.
But I don't - you know, look, you said you haven't heard it. You know, look, you got to read the papers, senator. You got to know that a lot of Democrats, particularly on the far left, far left, OK, are undermining the president's position in the world, in the world, by calling him a liar, saying that he juiced up the intelligence, that he knew it was false, and invaded anyway. This hurts not only the United States everywhere in the world, but it hurts our military people as well. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/17/05]
Fox Claims Media Bias Undermined Support For Iraq War
Liddy: "Those In The News Media ... Would Rather The United States Lose A War Than Have History Write That ... Bush Was A Successful President." On the March 20, 2006, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Liddy stated, "[T]hose in the news media ... would rather the United States lose a war than have history write that George W. Bush was a successful president." [Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 3/20/06]
Radio Host Bruce: "[President Bush] Has A Big Order To Contradict What The Mainstream Media Is Doing." On the March 20, 2006, edition of Fox News Live conservative radio host Tammy Bruce said, "[T]he president has a big order to contradict what the mainstream media is doing." She expressed support for his efforts to "give an overall picture that the mainstream media is not providing the average American." [Fox News, Fox News Live, 3/20/06]
Novak: "The Intensity Of The Hatred ... Toward George W. Bush By Democrats And By Some Of the People In The Media Is Just So Intense." During the March 22, 2006, edition of Hannity & Colmes, then-syndicated columnist and then-Fox News political analyst Robert D. Novak said that "the intensity of the hatred ... toward George W. Bush by Democrats and by some of the people in the media is just so intense, and it begins to have a kind of an effect that affects people who don't hate him." [Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 3/22/06]
Radio Host Williams: The Mainstream Media Have A "Daily Drum Beat ... Telling Us ... We Are Losing A War That We Are Winning." On the March 22, 2006, edition of Fox News Live, radio host Mark Williams referenced the "daily drum beat of the mainstream media telling us the we are losing a war that we are winning." [Fox News, Fox News Live, 3/22/06]
Hannity: "The Media Is Intent On Undermining The President In This Battle ... They Are Partisan." On the March 22, 2006, edition of his syndicated radio show, Hannity claimed that "the media is intent on undermining the president in this battle" and claimed there "has been a total and almost complete focus on all the negative aspects of the war." He later boasted that Bush had "stuck it in their face. They [the media] are fat, they are lazy, they have a pack mentality, they are partisan, and they are not doing their job, and they are not doing a service for the American people, and they are failing in their mission, and they purposely fail in their mission, and they get away with it each and every day." [ABC Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 3/22/06]
Yet Now Fox Relentlessly Bashes Obama Over Libya, Even As They Acknowledge Successes
Carlson: Americans "Need To Know" That We've Only Taken Away "25 Percent Of Gadhafi's Fire Power," That Rebels Are Still Outnumbered, And We've Spent "$550 Million." On the April 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts repeatedly suggested that the ongoing U.S. military operations in Libya have not been successful, even as they also acknowledged that key Gadhafi allies are defecting and may be engaged in negotiations in London. They also repeatedly referenced the cost of operations so far. From the show:
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Here's the issue, though. You realize that with these airstrikes that we've done thus far, we've only taken away 25 percent of Gadhafi's firepower - 25 percent. And then on top of that, you want to know what the numbers are of Gadhafi forces versus rebels still? Ten to one. Now, that's what the American people need to know this morning. They need to know, because the image that we've been getting is that, oh, yeah, we did a couple of airstrikes and, you know, Gadhafi will be out in a couple of days. Not so, I don't think.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Well, we're coming out of it. Number one, we're stopping all the air attacks, so in particular the rebels are there and described by Secretary of Defense Gates as essentially a pickup basketball game. That's what their forces amount to. They need command and control and training. He goes on to say, and can some other country do that? Because that's not some of the unique capabilities of America. Let somebody else do it, and as long as he has this job, there won't be any American troops on the ground.
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Right. And one of things the United States is doing, is it sounds like we're trying to pull the money plug on it. Let's take a look at how much it has cost us so far. Gates testified that as of Monday it costs the United States Treasury $550 million. All right, let's call it half a billion. And now with NATO taking over, we are estimating that it will cost, for our end, probably about $40 million per month. Meanwhile, let's talk a little bit about this. There is a report out of the Guardian of the United Kingdom that apparently a senior envoy to one of the sons of Colonel Gadhafi has been in Great Britain with secret talks, perhaps an end game for the regime.
KILMEADE: You're not talking about Mahmoud Ishamel, the senior aide to Gadhafi's son that's visiting London right now --
DOOCY: That's the one.
KILMEADE: -- on the heels of the foreign minister defection, his name of Moussa Koussa? So he's in there saying, I have an idea, how about floating this, where we have a new government, where Gadhafi's there but doesn't do anything. He gives up effective power to our national security adviser, and we factor in the rebels and represent them in a new coalition government. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/1/11]
North: Libya Is "Not [Going] Well" And Is "Not A Well-Planned Organization." Later during the show, Doocy interviewed Fox News contributor Oliver North, who said that the situation in Libya is "not [going] well" and that "the decision not to put American troops on the ground" is "openly disasterous if you're someone who wants to see Gadhafi gone." From the show:
DOOCY: Let me ask you something, Ollie. The debate in Washington right now is whether or not we should arm the rebels. What do you think?
NORTH: Well, before you find out who they are, and you give them adequate training to use those weapons, and determine at least some of the political loyalties for the majority of them, at least the leaders, it would be a terrible idea. On top of that, as Secretary Gates said yesterday, there are others who are willing to do so. Among them, Saudi Arabia and, of course, Qatar and a few other places. The Egyptians are going to have a major role in that, because that's how most of it is going to get there. Hopefully, the United States isn't going to be arming people who eventually turn against us.
DOOCY: That would be the worst thing of all. Finally, Ollie, before you go, how is it going over there right now?
NORTH: Not well. I mean, the Libya situation is not a well-planned organization. There's no coherence as to where we're going. And the objective of the entire operation is obviously bifurcated between those who want to get rid of Gadhafi and those who don't. The decision not to put American troops on the ground, openly disastrous if you're someone who wants to see Gadhafi gone. It does nothing but encourage him. [Fox & Friends, 4/1/11]
Bozell Complains Media Doesn't "Hold [Obama] Accountable" For Libya Military Actions. On the March 31 edition of Hannity, guest and Media Research Council president Brent Bozell stated: "Where Libya is concern[ed], he got us into that war. It is not somebody caused it. He got us into that. Why don't they hold him accountable for anything? They are now blaming the world." [Hannity, 3/31/11, accessed via Nexis]
North: "It Is Unconscionable That We Would Have A Lack Of Leadership At A Time Like This." On the March 31 edition of Hannity, North claimed:
NORTH: It is unconscionable that we would have a lack of leadership at a time like this. And of course, the deception that is being perpetrated is probably less intentional than it is the consequence of the ambivalence that has afflicted this administration since all of this began back on the 15th of December in Tunisia with Ben Ali. They couldn't decide what they wanted to do about Egypt with Mubarak, and now, they cannot decide what they want to do as a consequence of Moammar Gadhafi's brutal assault on his own people.
And of course, you have an administration who started this war, and it is a war without any clear objective in [mind]. And so, now we find, a finding has been issued by the presidential finding is required in order to employ our covert operations activities. And he now does not know what they are to do. And it is a very difficult situation if you're in the national commendatory. [Hannity, 3/31/11 accessed via Nexis]
Hannity Agrees With Guest: "The Only Beneficiary Out Of This War In Libya Is Al Qaeda." On the March 30 edition of Hannity, guest Brigitte Gabriel claimed: "It is a natural right now for al Qaeda to be rejoicing of America talking about arming the rebels in Libya, working with the rebels in Libya. The only beneficiary out of this war in Libya is al Qaeda, bar none!" Hannity agreed, stating:
Yes. And al Qaeda is claiming, Michael [Ghouse, America Together Foundation], as freelance jihadists have joined the rebels, that -- the terrorist leader is saying that the Arab revolts are boosting al Qaeda. Now, they're open about this. We know from our own State Department and other reporting that, in fact, we may be arming those people, if they decide to arm them, and we may be protecting the very people that want our destruction. [Hannity, 3/30/11 accessed via Nexis]