Fox News figures are promoting an ad produced by Veterans for a Strong America that deceptively edited statements by President Obama to portray him as taking all the credit for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In fact, fuller context of the speeches that the ad excerpts makes clear that Obama did give credit to the troops for the bin Laden raid, a fact that Fox's own Megyn Kelly has noted.
Fox Promotes Deceptive Anti-Obama Ad
Fox's Charles Krauthammer: Veterans Group "Ad Simply Shows The Words Obama Has Used Himself, So The Facts Are Not In Dispute." During the May 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report, guest host John Roberts said that Veterans for a Strong America has released an ad "accusing President Obama of spiking the football over Osama bin Laden." Fox then aired part of the ad saying that "heroes don't spike the football." After comments from The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol and Fox contributor Kirsten Powers, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer said "[t]his is a very strong ad" that "simply shows the words Obama has used himself, so the facts are not in dispute." He continued:
KRAUTHAMMER: And it hits at several levels. It isn't just that Obama has managed to turn a positive, something he did well, into a negative by attacking, using it as a partisan weapon which diminishes him, also it diminishes the solemnity of the event, which was a national event, and he used it, he appropriated it for himself. It is the narcissism, and that is the deeper issue here, how they quote Obama again and again, using the first personal pronoun in his announcement of the event. It's all about me, I, commander-in-chief, I ordered, I did this. What about the guys out there who did it and who risked their lives? And secondly, this idea that what was at stake was the political fortunes of the president if the lives of his own soldiers whom he ordered into battle were lost. That is devastating because I think it speaks to an underlying issue with Obama, of the self-regard and the narcissism that is implicit in a lot of what he does, but involved in an event of this kind where soldiers are at risk, I think it really hits hard. And if this ad were to play around the country, I think it would have a devastating effect. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/3/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Van Susteren: "A Veterans Group [Is] Slamming The President For Taking The Credit" For The Bin Laden Raid "Instead Of Giving It To The Special Forces." During the May 3 edition of Fox News' On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren said, "One year after the killing of bin Laden, Republicans blasting President Obama for spiking the football. And now, a veterans group slamming the president for taking the credit instead of giving it to the special forces." After airing part of the ad, Van Susteren said that "what I take away from that ad is that the veterans are deeply disturbed -- this group of veterans, maybe not all veterans, but this one -- and they were saying that he was arrogant and taking credit, that he was not humble and had no humility." She concluded the segment by saying "it's very boorish to take credit away from those brave men ... at the scene, who did actually execute this unbelievable killing of Osama bin Laden." [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 5/3/12, via Media Matters]
But Even Fox's Kelly Says The Ad Is Dishonest
Fox's Kelly: Obama "Did Give Thanks" To The Troops Who Killed Bin Laden. During an interview with Veterans for a Strong America founder Joel Arends on the May 3 edition of Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly observed that Obama did indeed credit the troops for killing bin Laden, saying, "He did give thanks to the others, and of course had to mention the first person in discussing how things went down." From the show:
KELLY: You point out in your ad that President Obama, you feel, used the first person too much in talking about this issue. And here's part -- the part of your ad that goes after that.
OBAMA [video clip]: I can report. I directed Leon Panetta. I was briefed. I met repeatedly. I determined. At my direction. I called President Zardari. I, as commander-in-chief. We don't need to spike the football. I said that I'd go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did.
KELLY: That first part was from May 2011, after bin Laden was killed, and the president was announcing it. But we did go back and look at his remarks, Joel, and here's another portion of them.
OBAMA [video clip]: A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.
KELLY: He did give thanks to the others, and of course had to mention the first person in discussing how things went down. Do you think the ad is fair on that score? [Fox News, America Live, 5/3/12, via Media Matters]
Indeed, The Ad Deceptively Edited Obama's Statements
Veterans For A Strong America Ad Pushes Narrative That Obama Took All The Credit For The Bin Laden Raid. The political ad from Veterans for a Strong America is titled "Why does President Obama take so much credit for killing Bin Laden?" It shows short snippets of President Obama using the word "I" from his May 2, 2011, announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden and from his April 30, 2012, joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Noda, leaving the false impression that Obama took full credit for the bin Laden raid. [Veterans for a Strong America, 5/1/12]
But In Speeches The Ad Excerpts, Obama Did Give Credit To The Troops For Bin Laden Raid.
- Obama: "We Give Thanks For The Men Who Carried Out This Operation, For They Exemplify The Professionalism, Patriotism, And Unparalleled Courage Of Those Who Serve Our Country." From Obama's May 2, 2011, remarks on the killing of bin Laden:
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we've made great strides in that effort.
A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.
We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day. [WhiteHouse.gov, 5/2/11]
- Obama: Bringing Bin Laden To Justice Is "A Mark Of The Excellence Of Our Intelligence Teams And Our Military Teams." From Obama's April 30 remarks at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Noda:
I think that people -- the American people rightly remember what we as a country accomplished in bringing to justice somebody who killed over 3,000 of our citizens. And it's a mark of the excellence of our intelligence teams and our military teams; a political process that worked. And I think for us to use that time for some reflection to give thanks to those who participated is entirely appropriate, and that's what's been taking place. [WhiteHouse.gov, 4/30/12]
And Joel Arends, Whose Group Created The Ad, Is A Longtime GOP Activist
Arends Was A Paid Staffer On John McCain's 2008 Presidential Campaign. According to multiple sources, Joel Arends was on John McCain's payroll for the 2008 presidential campaign:
- Federal Election Commission records, via CQ MoneyLine, show Joel Arends received at least $23,510 in payments for "travel" and "payroll" purposes from John McCain 2008 Inc. [Search of FEC filings, via CQ Moneyline, accessed 5/3/12]
- Joel Arends' LinkedIn page includes "Director Iowa Veterans Operations at John McCain 2008" under past work experience. [LinkedIn.com, accessed 5/3/12]
Arends Worked On George W. Bush's Presidential Campaign. According to multiple sources, Joel Arends worked on the staff of George W. Bush's presidential campaign:
- Joel Arends' LinkedIn page includes "Field Director" at "Bush Cheney 2000" under past work experience. [LinkedIn.com, accessed 5/3/12]
- The Argus Leader, a daily newspaper in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, described Arends as having "worked on the staff of George W. Bush's presidential campaign," and quoted him as having said, "On the campaign trail, I saw a man who was extremely confident he was going to win." [Argus Leader, 11/9/01, via Nexis]
Arends Is The Chairman Of The Lincoln County, South Dakota, Republican Party. Multiple sources show Joel Arends as the chairman of Lincoln County South Dakota Republican Party:
- The "Lincoln County GOP" Facebook page lists Arends as the current "Chairman" of the South Dakota Republican Party in Lincoln County. [Facebook, accessed 5/3/12]
- Joel Arends' LinkedIn page includes "Chairman at Lincoln County South Dakota Republican Party" under current jobs. [LinkedIn.com, accessed 5/3/12]
Arends Has Also Worked For Craig Dewey, The State Director Of The Conservative Advocacy Group Americans For Prosperity. Mother Jones reported:
Though he doesn't list it on his public resume, around 2006 Arends went to work for Craig Dewey, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy outfit that's Astroturfed everything from the tea party and the Wisconsin union fight to public-school segregation. (AFP's nonprofit 501(c)3 wing is chaired by David Koch, who founded the Americans for Prosperity Foundation with his brother Charles.)
"I was consulting with Americans For Prosperity on a state level, helping to connect them with key decision makers," Arends says. Craig Dewey initially denied this to me in a phone conversation. "Joel was never on paid staff at Americans for Prosperity," he said before conceding, "He was an advisor to me." [Mother Jones, 5/4/12]