Fox & Friends repeatedly criticized President Obama's recent statement on the violence in Libya for not "calling out [Libyan Dictator Moammar] Gadhafi" by name. But Fox & Friends largely ignored that the administration feared that attacking Gadhafi by name reportedly "could have put the thousands of Americans in Libya in harm's way."
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Fox & Friends Repeatedly Attacks Obama For Not "Mention[ing] Gadhafi Specifically"
Carlson: "Why Is The President Of The United States Not Saying And Calling Out Gadhafi, But He Did Mubarak?" On the February 24 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson asked, "Maybe the viewers can help me out with this. Why? Why is the president of the United States not saying and calling out Gadhafi, but he did Mubarak? Why is there a different reaction to Iran last year when this administration was silent than to Egypt where they weren't? And now to Libya when they are [silent]?" Co-host Steve Doocy acknowledged that "there are some Americans over there, and this guy is a crazy guy with lots of guns, and you've got to fear for the Americans' safety." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/24/11]
Carlson Again Asks Why Obama "Refuses To Call Out Gadhafi Or Really Have Any U.S. Involvement." Later in the show, Carlson asked Fox News contributor Dick Morris, "At the beginning of the show, we've been talking about Libya and the president's response. He finally came out with a statement yesterday, but he refuses to really call out Gadhafi or really have any U.S. involvement. Why?" Morris responded, "I can't speculate as to his motivations...I don't want to. It's too horrific." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/24/11]
Carlson: "Why Is President Obama Still Refusing To Personally Condemn The Libyan Leader?" Later in the show, during a tease for another segment on Libya, Carlson said, "Moammar Gadhafi set to speak in just moments about the worsening situation in Libya. But why is President Obama still refusing to personally condemn the Libyan leader? We'll analyze that." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/24/11]
Doocy: "President Obama Finally Condemns The Violence In Libya, But Never Mentions The Guy Who Runs It, Moammar Gadhafi. Why Not?" Later on Fox & Friends, Doocy teased an upcoming segment with Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin by asking "President Obama finally condemns the violence in Libya, but never mentions the guy who runs it, Moammar Gadhafi. Why not? What took the president so long to comment?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/24/11]
Malkin: Obama Didn't Name Gadhafi Because He "Seems Far More Willing To Give The Benefit Of The Doubt To The Most Virulently Anti-American Regimes." Later on Fox & Friends, Carlson asked Malkin, "Do you know why [Obama] wouldn't mention Gadhafi specifically? Do you know why he would have a different reaction to Egypt, and then, you know, no reaction to Iran last year and basically no reaction to this?" Malkin responded:
MALKIN: Well, I think the most generous explanation is just a simple lack of moral clarity and a continued Keystone Kops approach to these crises around the world. I think a less generous explanation is that somehow, this president seems far more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the most virulently anti-American regimes as opposed to -- you asked about Egypt, an ally of ours for the last three decades. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/24/11]
In Fact, Obama Reportedly Avoided Using Gadhafi's Name To Protect Americans In Libya
Henry: "If Obama Had Bashed Libyan Dictator Moammar Gadhafi, It Could Have Put The Thousands Of Americans In Libya In Harm's Way." In a February 24 article, CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry wrote:
While President Obama has taken heat for a relatively muted response in the early days of the crisis in Libya, U.S. officials privately believe it was the best strategy because if Obama had bashed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, it could have put the thousands of Americans in Libya in harm's way.
U.S. officials said there was a fear inside the administration that some of those Americans could have been taken hostage by Gadhafi, who once again made his distaste for America clear in rambling public remarks earlier this week and would relish the chance to escalate the crisis and drag U.S. citizens into the crossfire.
It's no accident that aides say Obama planned his first on-camera comments, just as a chartered ferry was expected to evacuate more than 500 Americans from Tripoli to nearby Malta. [CNN.com, 02/24/11]
Tapper: Since Americans Haven't Been Able To "Escape" Libya, "Gadhafi Could Accuse [Them] Of Being Spies And Take Them Hostage." In a February 24 post on ABC News' Political Punch blog, Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper wrote:
In his first public remarks on the crisis Wednesday, President Obama didn't mention Gadhafi's name, not wanting to personalize the crisis and feed into Gadhafi's megalomaniacal worldview of this crisis as a showdown between him and President Obama.
Officials describe the careful way President Obama is treading almost as if he were a law enforcement negotiator trying to deal with a hostage-taker: wanting to calmly back him down from the precipice of a rash and violent end, not wanting to inflame the situation.
The president would have been more forceful in his comments, sources said, if the hundreds of Americans in Libya had been able to escape the country. But as of now there's a real fear Gadhafi could accuse the Americans of being spies and take them hostage. [ABC News, Political Punch, 02/24/11]
NYT: Administration "Worried That Threatening Colonel Qaddafi Personally Could Provoke Him To Take Americans Hostage." A February 23 New York Times article reported:
Mr. Obama made no mention of the Libyan strongman, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, reflecting the administration's worry about the safety of American diplomats and their families in Tripoli, where a ferry meant to evacuate Americans was still stuck at the port, penned in by high winds in the Mediterranean. Mr. Obama has been coming under fire from critics who said he has not been tough enough against Colonel Qaddafi in the wake of the violent crackdown by pro-Qaddafi forces against demonstrators.
Meanwhile, administration officials were working furiously, with an eye on weather maps, to move the ferry of Americans out of Tripoli. With 35 diplomats and their dependents in the country, as well as about 600 other American citizens, the administration has worried that threatening Colonel Qaddafi personally could provoke him to take Americans hostage. [New York Times, 2/23/11]