Fox News anchors harp on oath story that experts reportedly say is insignificant

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

During Fox News' inauguration coverage, Chris Wallace stated, "I'm not sure that Barack Obama really is the president of the United States, because the oath of office is set in the Constitution." Wallace later claimed, "I wasn't at all convinced that ... John Roberts ever got it out straight and that Barack Obama ever said the prescribed words." On Fox & Friends the following day, Fox News repeatedly aired video of the oath flub, and Gretchen Carlson asked of Obama, "Is he really president," and went on to claim, "Because there was a flub in the oath of office." However, numerous experts, including one quoted later on Fox & Friends, have reportedly said that an incorrect recitation of the oath is insignificant.

During Fox News' coverage of President Barack Obama's January 20 inauguration, Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, asserted, "I'm not sure that Barack Obama really is the president of the United States, because the oath of office is set in the Constitution." Wallace later claimed, "I wasn't at all convinced that, even after he tried to amend it, that [Chief Justice] John Roberts ever got it out straight and that Barack Obama ever said the prescribed words. I suspect that everybody is going to forgive him and allow him to take over as president. But I'm not sure he actually said what's in the Constitution there." On the January 21 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News repeatedly aired video of the oath flub, and co-host Gretchen Carlson stated of the administration of the oath of office by Roberts, "Well, but, here's the thing. Is he really president?" After co-host Steve Doocy responded, "Yes," Carlson again asked, "Is he really president," and went on to claim, "Because there was a flub in the oath of office."

However, numerous experts, including one quoted later on Fox & Friends, have reportedly said that an incorrect recitation of the oath is insignificant. During Fox & Friends, Carlson stated of Obama: "But here's the thing. He really still is president, because we consulted with Dr. Allan Lichtman, who is a professor and a presidential historian at American University. He says, you know what, they are not going to have to redo this oath. It's kind of a technicality, but he technically is still president." Additionally, a January 21 Washington Post article stated: "Constitutional law experts agree that the flub is insignificant." The article later reported:

Lawyers said Obama and his supporters need not be worried about the legitimacy of his presidency, but they also said a do-over couldn't hurt. Charles Cooper, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel under President Ronald Reagan, said that the oath is mandatory, that an incorrect recitation should be fixed and that he would be surprised if the oath had not already been re-administered.

Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale University professor of constitutional law, said, "Out of a super-abundance of caution, perhaps he should do it again."

Jonathan Turley, a professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, was hosting an inauguration party at his McLean home yesterday and did a mock swearing-in of 35 children. When Roberts erred, one child shouted: "That's not right!"

"He should probably go ahead and take the oath again," Turley said. "If he doesn't, there are going to be people who for the next four years are going to argue that he didn't meet the constitutional standard. I don't think it's necessary, and it's not a constitutional crisis. This is the chief justice's version of a wardrobe malfunction."

From Fox News' coverage of the January 20 presidential inauguration:

MEGYN KELLY (Fox News anchor): And I will tell you, I asked these folks how they felt about the chief justice flubbing the oath a little bit, which, for me, as somebody who covered the Supreme Court, was a bit of a surprise. They felt the way I felt, which was, it's nice to see that even the chief justice of the United States and our new president can get a little nervous on the big days -- Chris.

WALLACE: You know, Megyn, I -- I have to say, I'm not sure that Barack Obama really is the president of the United States, because the oath of office is set in the Constitution.

And I wasn't at all convinced that, even after he tried to amend it, that John Roberts ever got it out straight and that Barack Obama ever said the prescribed words. I suspect that everybody is going to forgive him and allow him to take over as president. But I'm not sure he actually said what's in the Constitution there.

BRIT HUME (Fox News senior political analyst): And, Chris, if it ever got to the Supreme Court, you would have to know there would be at least one vote in favor of letting him stay in.

WALLACE: That's right. That's true.

KELLY: Good point.

WALLACE: Brit is saying, Megyn, that, at the Supreme Court, that John Roberts will definitely vote that, yes, he has taken the proper oath of office.

KELLY: That's a very good point. That sounds like a case for "Kelly's Court."

From the January 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: Also yesterday, the president of the United States, the new president, put his hand on Lincoln's Bible, we talked about that. He will be attending a national prayer breakfast today at the National Cathedral at 8:30 Eastern Time. You'll see it right here. There is Lincoln's Bible

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Can we stop scheduling events for Barack Obama and let him be president?

CARLSON: Well, but, here's the thing. Is he really president?

DOOCY: Yes.

CARLSON: Is he really president?

DOOCY: He really is president.

CARLSON: Because there was a flub in the oath of office. There was a flub by Chief Justice Roberts -- I'm sure he wants this moment back, by the way, but now it's in tape in history forever, where he screwed up the word "faithfully," at least the order of it.

It was supposed to go like this, "I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States." Instead he said, "I will execute the office of president of the United States faithfully," and Barack Obama knew there was a mistake there. So there was this kind of a hesitation.

KILMEADE: Yeah, you can fix it.

CARLSON: Oh, here it is.

DOOCY: Let's watch.

[begin video clip]

ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama --

OBAMA: I, Barack --

ROBERTS: -- do solemnly swear --

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear --

ROBERTS: -- that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.

OBAMA: -- that I will execute --

ROBERTS: -- the offi -- faithfully the pres -- the office of president of the United States.

OBAMA: -- the office of president of the United States faithfully.

[end video clip]

KILMEADE: Believe me, you've got to learn to roll with it a little bit. You know, I never would have picked that up if he just repeated it.

[...]

CARLSON: Let's talk a little bit about the other flub that happened during the oath of office. Earlier, I played the role of Justice Roberts.

DOOCY: Chief Justice.

CARLSON: And I'm going to continue to play that role now, but now I'm going to turn to my left, because I put Steve on the spot in the five o'clock hour this morning. All right, Brian, repeat after me.

KILMEADE: OK.

CARLSON: I have to find it first. I don't have it memorized.

KILMEADE: I have to find it first.

CARLSON: OK. I will --

KILMEADE: I have to find it first.

CARLSON: OK. I will faithfully execute --

KILMEADE: I will faithfully execute --

CARLSON: -- the office of President of the United States.

KILMEADE: -- the office of President of the United States. How'd I do?

CARLSON: OK, now that's how it was supposed to happen.

KILMEADE: Right.

CARLSON: Unfortunately, the word "faithfully" got a little screwed up, Steve, and it sounded --

DOOCY: He put it at the end of the sentence.

CARLSON: It sounded -- it sounded like this then: "I will execute the office."

DOOCY: That's right. The problem was, Roberts, on his big day with a billion people watching, decided, "I'm not going to hold up a piece of paper and read. I'm going to just memorize -- "

KILMEADE: "I'm Justice Roberts."

DOOCY: "I'm going to memorize it, and I'm going to say it. How could I possibly screw it up?" Like this:

[begin video clip]

ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama --

OBAMA: I, Barack --

ROBERTS: -- do solemnly swear --

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear --

ROBERTS: -- that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.

OBAMA: -- that I will execute --

ROBERTS: -- the offi -- faithfully the pres - the office of president of the United States.

OBAMA: -- the office of president of the United States faithfully.

[end video clip]

DOOCY: You know, for a couple of smooth-talking constitutional experts --

KILMEADE: I know.

DOOCY: -- that was kind of a little [inaudible].

KILMEADE: That's why I don't want to go to an Ivy League school. Those two Ivy Leaguers could not get it straight.

CARLSON: But here's the thing. He really still is president, because we consulted with Dr. Allan Lichtman, who is a professor and a presidential historian at American University. He says, you know what, they are not going to have to redo this oath.

KILMEADE: Because --

CARLSON: It's kind of a technicality, but he technically is still president.

DOOCY: Because at the stroke of noon you are automatically the president of the United States.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Chris Wallace, Gretchen Carlson
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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