Fox News attacks Obama's efforts to promote U.S. Olympic bid

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In recent days, Fox News hosts, contributors and guests have used President Obama's promotion of the United States bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago as an excuse to attack him, while Michelle Malkin and Matt Drudge have baselessly linked the murder of a teenager in Chicago to the Olympic bid. Attacks on Obama's efforts include Sean Hannity saying that "it sounds" like Obama "is more concerned about bringing the Olympics to Chicago than winning the war in Afghanistan," Brent Bozell claiming Obama's trip to Copenhagen to promote the Chicago bid "is evidence that this man just cannot stay away from the klieg lights," and Bret Baier invoking the "carbon footprint" of Obama's trip to Copenhagen to smear the president.

Fox News criticizes Obama's misplaced "priorities," spotlight-seeking, carbon footprint of trip

Hannity says "it sounds" like Obama "is more concerned about bringing the Olympics to Chicago than winning the war in Afghanistan." On the September 28 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity criticized Obama for purportedly backing away from "the type of commitment" to winning the war in Afghanistan that he expressed during the 2008 presidential campaign. During the segment, Hannity asserted: "Now, it sounds to me like the president's more concerned about bringing the Olympics to Chicago than winning the war in Afghanistan."

Byron York: Obama's "priorities" aren't "right," "taking a lot of the administration" to Copenhagen "is an ill-advised thing to do right now." During a panel discussion about Obama's trip to Copenhagen on the September 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York said that Obama "jetting off with Oprah to Copenhagen to try to get the Olympics for his hometown" is "a question of where the president's priorities are right at this moment, and this trip, even though it's just a quick -- he goes on Thursday, comes back on Friday -- just doesn't seem like the right thing to do." York later added: "[I]n addition, by the way, he is taking a lot of the administration, he's taking the education secretary, I guess to talk about educational aspects of the Olympics. He is taking the transportation secretary, Valerie Jarrett, his top adviser, one of his top advisers in the White House. It is an ill-advised thing to do right now."

Stephen Hayes echoes York's misplaced "priorities" claim, adds, "the optics of it at the very least are terrible." Echoing York's remarks during the Special Report discussion, Weekly Standard writer Stephen Hayes stated that "the real problem here is one of priorities, as Byron said." Hayes also said Obama's claim that "[h]e wants to take his time to get it right" on Afghanistan is "a bogus excuse," and added, "even if you say he's going to spend all his time on the plane studying Afghanistan, the optics of it at the very least are terrible."

Bret Baier invoked "carbon footprint" of Air Force One trip to Copenhagen to smear Obama, agreed with remarks by York and Hayes. During the Special Report panel discussion, Baier said: "[W]e wanted to do the calculation, but couldn't really do it quick enough for the carbon footprint that is heading to Copenhagen for Air Force One." Additionally, when NPR's Juan Williams defended Obama by stating that the trip is "a big effort to just fly the flag" and that Obama should "[g]o have some fun," Baier responded: "But Juan, go have some fun with it? I mean, he hasn't made any decision on sending troop surges in Afghanistan." And following Hayes' assertion that "the optics ... are terrible," Baier turned to Williams and said: "Optics -- don't you agree with that?" Williams replied: "No. ... I think most people would look at this and say, look, if he wants to go and make a pitch for the Olympics, that's what the president should do, especially for his hometown, go do it."

Brent Bozell claims Obama's Copenhagen trip "is evidence that [Obama] just cannot stay away from the klieg lights." During an interview on the September 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell declared regarding Obama's trip to Copenhagen: "Look, this is head-scratching time. This is evidence that this man just cannot stay away from the klieg lights."

Bozell claims media would slam Bush for similar trip. During the Fox & Friends interview, co-host Steve Doocy said to Bozell:

DOOCY: Hey, Brent, here's what you always do. You always set a situation up like you just did and then you turn it around and say, what would the media do if George Bush were in his shoes given the same situation with all this stuff going on? Wait a minute, George Bush is going to fly to Copenhagen and make the case for, you know, Crawford, Texas, to be the home of the Olympics?

Bozell replied that if it was Bush going to Copenhagen to promote an Olympic bid, the media "would be ripping his head off. They would be saying he's not ready for prime time. They would be saying he's not a serious president. They would say he's not being presidential."

Gretchen Carlson suggests appropriateness of Copenhagen trip should be "one of the first questions" asked to Robert Gibbs. During the Bozell interview, co-host Gretchen Carlson said:

CARLSON: Well, Brent, you know, we should say that of course every American citizen would love to have the Olympics in America. ... But the bottom line here is that -- will not Robert Gibbs, will that not that be one of the first questions at the press briefing today? Or maybe it won't be, unless it is asked by Fox?

Doocy, Carlson agree with Bozell's statement that it's against U.S. tradition to "send our president out as a salesman like this." Toward the end of the Fox & Friends interview, Bozell said: "I mean, it is true other leaders have done this. Putin has done this. Tony Blair has done this. ... But I don't recall in this country that we send our president as salesman like this. I don't recall this." Doocy replied, "Man, if they don't get it, that would be embarrassing," and Carlson then said, "Exactly."

Michelle Malkin purports to conduct an "Olympics Crony Watch." Michelle Malkin, a Fox News contributor, has devoted several posts on her personal website to an "Olympics Crony Watch" or "the Obamas' Chicago Crony Olympics bid."

Malkin, Drudge link teen murder in Chicago to Olympic bid

Malkin on teen murder in Chicago: "Flying to Copenhagen isn't helping." On September 28, Malkin posted video of the teenager being beaten to death and wrote: "Community organizing has not stopped Chicago's teen violence epidemic. The Olympics will not solve this long-festering problem, either." Malkin also wrote, regarding the "out-of-control violence" in Chicago: "Flying to Copenhagen isn't helping."

Drudge headline: "OLYMPIC SPIRIT: VIDEO SHOWS BRUTAL GANG MURDER IN CHICAGO." Similarly, on September 29, the Drudge Report linked to a story about the teenager who was beaten and murdered in Chicago under the following headline:

drudge

Transcripts

From the September 28 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: And tonight in "Hannity's America." Now questions continue to be raised over President Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan. Now, despite an uptick in the violence there, the administration has asked the top U.S. commander on the ground to delay his request for more troops. And this new stall tactic by the White House is a far cry from the rhetoric that Senator Obama used on the campaign trail. Let's take a look.

OBAMA [video clip]: We need to take more resources and put them into Afghanistan. I've been arguing for this since 2002, when I said that we should finish the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban instead of going into Iraq. It's time to finally take out Al Qaeda's top leadership and to finish the fight in Afghanistan.

HANNITY: Now, that's not exactly the type of commitment that we're hearing from Barack Obama now that he's president. In fact, yesterday on 60 Minutes, General Stanley McChrystal revealed just how involved the president is when it comes to Afghanistan. Let's take a look.

[begin video clip]

DAVID MARTIN (CBS News national security correspondent): How often do you talk to the president?

McCHRYSTAL: I've talked to the president since I've been here once on a VTC [video teleconference].

MARTIN: You talked to him once in 70 days?

McCHRYSTAL: That's correct.

[end video clip]

HANNITY: Now, it sounds to me like the president's more concerned about bringing the Olympics to Chicago than winning the war in Afghanistan.

From the September 28 edition of Fox News' Fox and Friends:

CARLSON: But the question now is, is this the right time for the president to head overseas for an Olympics bid with pressing issues from Iran to Afghanistan and health care on his docket here?

KILMEADE: Brent Bozell is the -- is --

DOOCY: The founder.

KILMEADE: -- the founder of the Media Research Center. Brent, we have you back because we want to get you to comment on this news that just came across. Should the White House be worried about the perception here?

BOZELL: Well, I think they should be. Look, this is head-scratching time. This is evidence that this man just cannot stay away from the klieg lights. He's telling us on the one hand that we have an economic crisis. He's telling us that we have to solve health care right now. You've got his military commanders in Afghanistan begging him to please get off his duff and make a decision about sending more troops that they desperately need. They say they're about to lose the war, and he can't make up his mind, but he's going to Copenhagen to talk about the Olympics?

DOOCY: Yeah. Hey, Brent, here's what you always do. You always set a situation up like you just did and then you turn it around and say, what would the media do if George Bush were in his shoes --

BOZELL: Exactly.

DOOCY: -- given the same situation with all this stuff going on? Wait a minute, George Bush is going to fly to Copenhagen and make the case for, you know, Crawford, Texas, to be the home of the Olympics?

BOZELL: They would be ripping his head off. They would be saying he's not ready for prime time. They would be saying he's not a serious president. They would say he's not being presidential. They'd be saying all those things about Bush, but let me tell you, they're going to be all in droves covering this. I think, by the way, it is -- in a way it's a bit of a slap -- certainly not intended, but it is a bit of a slap at Michelle Obama. Because the plan was to send her, and I think that was perfectly appropriate to do, but apparently they've decided she's not very good at this.

CARLSON: Well, Brent, you know, we should say that of course every American citizen would love to have the Olympics in America.

KILMEADE: So would NBC, by the way.

CARLSON: Probably -- I'm not sure if they have the rights in 2016 or not. But the bottom line here is that -- will not Robert Gibbs, will that not that be one of the first questions at the press briefing today? Or maybe it won't be, unless it is asked by Fox?

BOZELL: You mean you're invited at the White House?

CARLSON: Excuse me?

BOXELL: Are you all invited at the White House still?

DOOCY: Oh, sure, we've got a correspondent there.

CARLSON: Hey, they invite me to ask the questions, I'll be there.

BOZELL: No, again, they'll ask a couple of questions, but I've said this before and I'm going to say this -- as long as this man is in power, the national quote-unquote news media are going to be on his side. They're going to be his megaphones. They are in bed with this guy to the very, very end. So, no, they're not going to be tough, they're not going to ask him tough questions. They're not going to ask him -- I mean, it is true other leaders have done this. Putin has done this. Tony Blair has done this. But that's fine. But I don't recall in this country that we send our president as salesman like this. I don't recall this.

DOOCY: Man, if they don't get it, that would be embarrassing.

CARLSON: Yeah, exactly.

DOOCY: All right. Brent Bozell, MRC.org and also Newsbusters.org, we thank you very much for joining us live.

From the September 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report:

BAIER: Well, President Obama will leave this week for Denmark, where he will lead a U.S. delegation, including the first lady and Oprah Winfrey, to try to rally the international community in an effort to land the 2016 Summer Olympics for Chicago. What about this trip and its announcement today? We're back with the panel -- Byron?

YORK: Imagine this Republican commercial. Iran is -- the crisis is growing, Afghanistan, the crisis is growing. We learn that Obama has spoken all of one time with General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan. He spent more time with David Letterman than with Stanley McChrystal. And amidst all this, the president is playing golf, going on vacation, going on Letterman, doing the five shows, and now jetting off with Oprah to Copenhagen to try to get the Olympics for his hometown.

It's a question of where the president's priorities are right at this moment, and this trip, even though it's just a quick -- he goes on Thursday, comes back on Friday -- just doesn't seem like the right thing to do.

BAIER: Juan?

WILLIAMS: Come on.

YORK: Oh, it's serious.

WILLIAMS: Come on. That was -- come on, you're just picking on this guy. Look, this is an effort to be a hometown guy from Chicago. He's from Chicago -- that's his adopted hometown. The mayor is going to be there, Oprah, Valerie Jarrett, his top adviser, another longtime Chicago political player. Mayor Daley is going to be indebted to him. He's taking David Robinson, the Olympic star; Bart Conner, another Olympic star. It's a big effort to just fly the flag.

And I don't think it's much more than that. Go have some fun. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I'm surprised to hear Mr. Gibbs say he thinks health care is under control, but maybe they know something that I don't know.

BAIER: But Juan, go have some fun with it? I mean, he hasn't made a decision on sending troops to Afghanistan.

WILLIAMS: I don't think it's going to get in the way. As Byron said, I think he leaves Thursday afternoon and gets back Friday afternoon. It's not -- I mean, he has Air Force One. It's not like me running down and trying to catch the shuttle.

BAIER: Also, we wanted to do the calculation, but couldn't really do it quick enough for the carbon footprint that is heading to Copenhagen for Air Force One.

WILLIAMS: If you guys want to stick it to him, use that.

BAIER: No, no, no. But I mean --

HAYES: [inaudible] with our tax dollars.

BAIER: -- but we don't know if he will head to the climate change conference in Copenhagen --

WILLIAMS: Which is more serious business.

BAIER: -- but he's heading there for the Olympics.

HAYES: Well, look, Juan, nobody -- I think most Americans would like Chicago to get the Olympics. I mean, as a Milwaukee native, we consider Chicago our greatest suburb. But I think the real problem here is one of priorities, as Byron said. It is rather stunning that the president hasn't met in person with Stanley McChrystal yet.

This is a war -- it's not any war. It is the war that he campaigned on as the good war dating back really to 2002. And he said a couple weeks ago in his question-and-answer session, I believe, with Steven Harper from Canada that he hasn't -- he doesn't want to rush this decision. He wants to take his time to get it right. But that seems to me a bogus excuse. He's been campaigning on it as the right war. He's done his own strategic policy review. McChrystal's done a strategic assessment.

It's now time for the president to make a decision and act on a decision. I think this looks like a distraction. And even if you say he's going to spend all his time on the plane studying Afghanistan, the optics of it at the very least are terrible.

BAIER: Optics -- don't you agree with that?

WILLIAMS: No.

BAIER: No?

WILLIAMS: I just think -- look, I think most people would look at this and say, look, if he wants to go and make a pitch for the Olympics, that's what a president should do, especially for his hometown, go do it. You know what? He put General McChrystal in place. This is not an anti-McChrystal guy. This is a guy that is working -- in fact, Admiral Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs --

HAYES: Why hasn't he talked to the Joint Chiefs -- he's talked to him once. In 70 days he talked to him once, and that was by video teleconference.

WILLIAM: Well, I don't think that's --

HAYES: And that is -- I think that's a stunning affront to your lead commander in what you call the good war.

WILLIAMS: I don't think that he -- that General McChrystal has been ignored or feels ignored in any way. And as I said, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs was just there last week to see him personally, and the report is there at the White House. Give the president time. But as far as this Olympic thing getting in the way or the optics, you know what? I just think it just sort of an overkill. Let him go one day.

BAIER: Byron, you are talking about already a Republican commercial out of this. What happens if he goes there, does the whole pitch, and Chicago doesn't get it and it goes to Rio? Is that another kind of --

YORK: It would be a huge problem, obviously. He's putting presidential prestige on the line to do this. There are other cities that may be ahead of Chicago. Chicago itself is divided amongst itself about whether to have the Olympics, whether they even want them. I think the polls show that the city is about split half-and-half. And if it cost the city anything, most people are actually opposed to it.

So -- in addition, by the way, he is taking a lot of the administration, he's taking the education secretary, I guess to talk about educational aspects of the Olympics. He is taking the transportation secretary, Valerie Jarrett, his top adviser, one of his top advisers in the White House. It is an ill-advised thing to do right now.

WILLIAMS: Because you think that he's going to lose?

YORK: No. Even if he wins, he has opened himself up to this priority thing. It's the priority argument that's the biggest thing.

HAYES: The problem isn't really, for me at least, that he's going. I mean, this is -- heads of state do this. Tony Blair did it for London. Vladimir Putin did it for Sochi or whatever it's called. It's --

BAIER: Lula da Silva from Brazil is going as well.

HAYES: Right. This is what heads of states do. And the thought is that it will give the bid a boost. And I think that's probably true. I think it's both one of priorities and one of optics, and that causes a problem for him.

WILLIAMS: Well, let me just say that other heads of states are going to be there. They're going to make their pitch. President Obama will make a brief pitch, and then he's coming home. And then you can beat him up some more.

HAYES: Other heads of state aren't running a war in Afghanistan.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know what? I think it's going to be fine. We have people in place.

YORK: And also, he did say, like, 12 days ago, I would go to Copenhagen to make the case for the Olympics personally if I were not so dedicated to providing health care to all of America.

WILLIAMS: Well, that's why I was surprised -- I was surprised that Gibbs says it's under control.

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