Fox continued to prove itself a safe haven for conservatives as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld enjoyed an easy interview on Fox & Friends. Fox News chose to ignore Rumsfeld's role in the Iraq war while other outlets questioned him about manipulated intelligence and the role the war played in America's standing in the international community.
The softball questions lobbed by hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade stood in stark contrast to the challenging questions asked by Chris Cuomo of CNN's New Day and Savannah Guthrie of NBC's Today. The Fox interview comes on the heels of a new report detailing the cozy relationship between Fox News and Republicans and the friendly forum Fox presents to their conservative guests.
While Cuomo and Guthrie asked Rumsfeld questions about the lingering effects of the Iraq war and Rumsfeld's role in the intelligence failures leading up to it, the hosts of Fox & Friends chose to avoid any mention of Iraq. Hosts Gretchen Carlson, Brian Kilmeade, and Steve Doocy made no mention of the botched intelligence and instead asked leading questions that gave Rumsfeld an opportunity to criticize President Obama's handling of the developing situation in Syria.
Fox's treatment of the former Defense Secretary, and Republicans in general, has become a noticeable pattern. The Rumsfeld interview comes after a recent report by Harvard University's Shorenstein Center detailing Fox's unique role as a safe haven for conservative candidates.
Fox & Friends invited former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld onto the program this morning for an unintentionally awkward round of Obama bashing regarding the situation in Syria. (The "so-called commander in chief" is how Rumsfeld mocked the president.) As part of Fox's relentless critique of the president's handling of Syria, and his call for military strikes in response to the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons against its own people, Fox & Friends attacked Obama for moving too slowly.
Twice during the interview, Steve Doocy complained that Obama had previously "delayed" launching the successful attack that captured and killed Osama bin Laden. The fact that Doocy made the point to Rumsfeld, who as Secretary of Defense, could not locate bin Laden for seven-plus years in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was clumsy at best.
Even more awkward though, was Brian Kilmeade's accusation put to Rumsfeld that the Obama White House had allegedly sent mixed messages to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [emphasis added].
KILMEADE: Do you blame Assad for getting mixed signals from the very people now asking for war? From the people that once put their hand of friendship out?
Kilmeade wanted to know from Rumsfeld whether a Middle Eastern dictator accused of gassing people had been sent mixed messages from American officials who extended their hand of friendship but now threaten to use military force.
Well, Rumsfeld ought to know:
Fox News turned to former George W. Bush administration officials to criticize President Obama's aim to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center, a facility established by the Bush administration.
Obama is expected to deliver a speech reiterating his pledge to close Guantánamo and transfer its detainees to other countries. In anticipation of the president's remarks, Fox featured former Bush administration officials Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove to push back against the idea of closing Guantánamo.
On America's Newsroom, Rove, a Fox News political analyst and former Bush adviser, warned that "we ought to be very careful" about transferring detainees out of Guantánamo, and said: "I worry about the rush to close Gitmo. We're in a war, and we need a place to keep these people."
Later on America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer said to Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary under Bush, that an argument can be made that captured terrorists must be sent to either a U.S. prison or Guantánamo. Rumsfeld responded by touting Guantánamo and expressing skepticism about Obama's push to close the facility:
RUMSFELD: It should be Gitmo. Gitmo's probably as well run a prison as you'll find. Now, prisons are not nice places. But these people were picked up on the battlefield, they're down in Guantánamo because of their danger they pose to the United States. There's a process that handles them in a humane way. And closing it -- I would really want to see what he says and what he plans to do.
The Guantánamo Bay detention camp was established by the Bush administration in 2002. As Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth has noted, the facility is highly controversial, and Bush himself said he wanted to see it shut down.
To help recap and analyze last night's presidential debate, Fox News' America's Newsroom trotted out a string of former Bush administration officials -- including Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton -- to pile accolades on Mitt Romney's performance and attack President Obama. The Bush veterans were joined by several conservative commentators, Romney surrogates, and the occasional Democrat.
Below is the list of non-reporter guests America's Newsroom featured this morning to comment on the debate, in order of appearance.
John Bolton: Romney foreign policy advisor, George W. Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, and advocate of bombing Iran.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): Office of Management and Budget director under George W. Bush, Romney surrogate, and Romney's debate coach.
Donald Rumsfeld: Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush who praised Romney's "terrific" speech at the Virginia Military Institute earlier this month.
Gen. Wesley Clark: Former Democratic candidate for president and Obama campaign advisor.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): Romney surrogate.
Bob Beckel: Democratic strategist and Fox News host.
Andrea Tantaros: Republican strategist and Fox News host.
From the May 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
Loading the player reg...
From the April 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News has repeatedly attacked Obama for not using the word "terrorism" to describe a recent attack on U.S. soldiers in Germany. In fact, U.S. officials have repeatedly said that the attack -- which is being investigated -- appeared to be motivated by Islamic extremism and could be an incident of terrorism.
From the February 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
Supporters of Donald Rumsfeld have repeated Rumsfeld's assertion that retired U.S. generals criticizing Rumsfeld and calling for his resignation may be aiding U.S. enemies. Rumsfeld made this claim during an appearance on The Rush Limbaugh Show.