Many conservative media figures vouched for Sen. Jon Kyl's "integrity" after Kyl accused President Obama of having said he refuses to "secure the border" in order to force the GOP to support comprehensive immigration reform. Will these media figures report that Kyl now says his comments were "taken a bit out of context" and referred to "the president's base" and not the administration?
White House denies Kyl's accusation that Obama is "holding" the border "hostage"
Burton: "The president didn't say that. Senator Kyl knows the president didn't say that." The Washington Post reported on June 21 that Kyl "said that President Obama personally told him the administration will not support stricter border enforcement until Republicans back broad immigration reform." The Post continued:
The White House strongly denied the claim.
At a town hall in Arizona on Friday, Kyl responded to a voter's question about immigration by detailing a one-on-one meeting he had with Obama. According to Kyl, "The president said the problem is if we secure the border, then you all won't have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform."
"In other words, they're holding it hostage," Kyl said at the event, a video of was circulated widely online on Monday, but not from Kyl's office. "They won't secure the border unless and until is it combined with comprehensive immigration reform."
Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said, "The president didn't say that. Senator Kyl knows the president didn't say that."
"But what everybody knows because the President has made it perfectly clear is that what we need to do is everything that we can to bring about comprehensive immigration reform," he added. "And that includes not just securing the border, but doing a lot of other things."
Conservative media tout Kyl's honesty
Krauthammer on Kyl's accusation: "I believe him implicitly." Media Matters previously documented that many conservative media figures testified to Kyl's honesty after his accusation. All of the panelists on the June 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report stated that they believed Kyl. Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer stated: "Kyl is a straight shooter. I believe him implicitly." The Hill's A.B. Stoddard said: "I'm not going to call, you know, Senator Jon Kyl a liar. He is, as Charles mentioned, one of the biggest workhorses in the Senate. He never seeks the spotlight." Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson stated: "There are some senators one could imagine sort of popping off and saying lunatic things. In fact, a lot of them do that." He continued: "Senator Kyl -- a lawyer specializing in water rights -- is the last guy to do that. So he is eminently believable."
Kilmeade: "Jon Kyl's integrity is beyond reproach." On June 22, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said, "Jon Kyl's integrity is beyond reproach." Co-host Steve Doocy later said of Kyl, "He doesn't make stuff up." Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham added, "Oh yeah, I totally believe him. Jon Kyl also is not the most right-wing on immigration issues, so I believe him, yeah."
Kyl walks back accusation
NRO: Kyl was not "referring to ... the administration." From a June 25 National Review Online post:
Kyl, of course, had a small spat with the White House last week over comments he made at a town-hall meeting. Kyl, responding to a voter's question, detailed a recent one-on-one conversation he had with the president. "They are holding [border security] hostage" over hopes for comprehensive immigration reform, Kyl said at the forum.
Kyl tells us that the comments were "taken a bit out of context," and that the "they" he was referring to was the Left, "the president's base," and not the administration. "I did not try to start a fight. This meeting happened a month ago and we were talking in the context of his political problems. He was talking about how they think that if we secure the border, you guys [Republicans] won't have the incentive to work on comprehensive immigration reform."