Fox & Friends hosts, Beck cite fictional congressional testimony by 24's "Jack Bauer" in defense of torture

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade falsely suggested that only "people at the U.N." want to close Guantánamo, while co-hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson, as well as Glenn Beck, used TV drama 24 as a justification for the use of torture. In fact, Sen. John McCain, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and five former secretaries of state are among those who have said that Guantánamo should be closed.

During the January 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade falsely suggested that only "people at the U.N. [United Nations]" want to close the U.S. military-run detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. Discussing torture in Fox Broadcasting Co.'s TV drama 24, Kilmeade asked Fox News' Glenn Beck: "Do you think anybody talks about Gitmo except these people at the U.N., who think it's the worst thing that's ever happened?" While Kilmeade was speaking, Beck answered, "No." In fact, Sen. John McCain, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, and Colin Powell are among those who have said that Guantánamo should be closed.

Beck and the Fox & Friends hosts also invoked 24 as a justification for the use of torture. Referring to the show's recent season premiere, in which protagonist Jack Bauer, a former member of the fictional "Counter Terrorist Unit," defends his use of torture during a hearing before Congress, Beck said: "[I]t's going to take somebody who sits in front of Congress who is not afraid of them anymore and does what Jack Bauer did. And that is, 'Yes, I did torture, and I'm proud of it.' And it's time for these things to come out of the closet." Introducing an excerpt from 24, in which Bauer is seen answering questions from a congressional committee about torture, Kilmeade stated: "Let's listen to what happened in the fictional series 24 and see if this helps build your argument."

After the clip, co-host Steve Doocy said: "In particular, in that clip, you know, the guy [fictional Sen. Blaine Mayer] goes, 'You tortured them.' And he [Bauer] goes, 'Well, it probably was torture under your definition. But ask the people whose lives I saved whether or not it was worth me going over the edge' -- they would probably -- you ask the average person, 'Is it OK to do something, rough somebody up, to save lives?' You ask the person on the street, they'd say, 'Yeah, why not?' "

During the segment, on-screen text read: "What Americans Need to Hear; Beck Applauds Jack Bauer's Honesty":

fox2

Media Matters for America has noted that conservatives -- including Beck -- frequently look to 24 as a justification for hawkish policies such as torture.

While Kilmeade suggested that only "people at the U.N." think the United States should close the detention facility at Guantánamo, prominent Republicans and current and former Cabinet members have said the facility should be closed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in a March 27, 2008, article:

Five former U.S. secretaries of State said Thursday the next president should move quickly to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

That single act would improve America's dismal reputation in the world immediately, agreed Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell.

The five former secretaries, who served under Presidents Nixon, Ford, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush, were at the University of Georgia for a roundtable discussion billed as "The 16th Report of the Secretaries of State," which offered "bipartisan advice to the next administration." Kissinger, Baker and Powell all served Republican presidents. Albright and Christopher served Clinton, a Democrat.

During a September 20, 2008, CNN event with the former secretaries of state, co-host Frank Sesno asked what are "some tangible things that the next administration, the next president can do to change policy or send a signal that will address these issues [of international respect]." Baker replied: "Close Guantanamo. We were on a panel together several months ago, and we all agreed, one of the best things that could happen would be to close Guantanamo, which is a very serious blot upon our reputation."

During the December 17, 2008, edition of PBS' Charlie Rose, Gates -- who will hold the same office in the Obama administration -- said of Guantánamo: "I would like to see it closed. And I think it will be a high priority for the new administration."

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said in a March 2008 speech: "I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies ... to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control."

From the January 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): All right, as long as we're talking doom and gloom, let's move on to the show 24. Don't tell me what happened the last two nights, because I DVR'd it, but I know you have to spill the beans a little bit, because Jack Bauer apparently in the show testifies before Congress.

BECK: Yeah.

CARLSON: And you talked about this on your radio show yesterday. All he does is tell the truth.

BECK: The truth. There's two things. And I said on the radio show yesterday, I think we're headed for another McCarthy era. I think we're headed for -- and not, you know, "Are you a communist?" But do you disagree with what our government is doing on both sides of the aisle, these extremes on both sides? Do you disagree? Well, yes, I do.

And it's going to take somebody who sits in front of Congress who is not afraid of them anymore and does what Jack Bauer did. And that is, "Yes, I did torture, and I'm proud of it." And it's time for these things to come out of the closet. We're talking about getting rid of Guantánamo. Well, we still have rendition. That was a Clinton-era nightmare.

DOOCY: Yeah, sure.

KILMEADE: I am pro-rendition, pro-waterboarding.

BECK: No, you know what? Then, good --

KILMEADE: There should be a Congress meeting that --

BECK: Then all you have to do is say that.

KILMEADE: Let's listen to what happened in the fictional series 24 and see if this helps build your argument. Let's listen. Soon.

BECK: It's good so far.

DOOCY: Today sometime.

[begin video clip]

SEN. BLAINE MAYER (played by Kurtwood Smith): Did you torture Mr. Haddad?

BAUER (played by Kiefer Sutherland): According to the definitions set forth by the Geneva Convention, yes, I did. ... Ibrahim Haddad had targeted a bus carrying 45 people, 10 of which were children. The truth, Senator, is I stopped that attack from happening.

MAYER: Even if it means breaking the law?

[...]

BAUER: In answer to your question, am I above the law? No, sir. I am more than willing to be judged by the people you claim to represent. I will let them decide what price I should pay. And please, do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions that I have made. Because, sir, the truth is, I don't.

[end video clip]

BECK: OK. Here's the thing. Rendition: It is immoral for us to go and grab people off the street and send them over to Egypt to be tortured. If we believe the information is worthy of getting any way, then we should do it. We're doing the same thing with interrogation that we're doing with oil. Oh, we don't want, we're -- no, no, no, we don't want to destroy the Earth. Get it out of the ground over in Saudi Arabia. It's either right, or it's wrong. Stand up and say it. Choose.

DOOCY: Right. In particular, in that clip, you know, the guy goes, "You tortured them." And he goes, "Well, it probably was torture under your definition. But ask the people whose lives I saved whether or not it was worth me going over the edge" --

BECK: Right.

DOOCY: -- they would probably -- you ask the average person, "Is it OK to do something, rough somebody up, to save lives?"

BECK: Yes.

DOOCY: You ask the person on the street, they'd say, "Yeah, why not?"

BECK: Yeah.

CARLSON: And --

KILMEADE: Gitmo? Do you think anybody talks about Gitmo except these people --

BECK: No.

KILMEADE: -- at the U.N., who think it's the worst thing that's ever happened?

BECK: Everybody's -- they're talking about an executive order the first day of the Obama administration getting rid of Gitmo. The question is --

KILMEADE: Where do you put these people?

BECK: -- who's -- what country is going to take them back? No country wants them. And if they go through our court system, 200 of these cases, it's said, 200 of these cases will shut down the American justice system. That -- that's --

KILMEADE: They have 241 of them.

BECK: -- that's staggering.

DOOCY: Terrific.

CARLSON: And no other prison around the U.S. probably wants them either.

BECK: Oh, no, no.

CARLSON: No. All right, Glenn --

BECK: Thanks, guys.

CARLSON: -- we're looking forward to your show.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.