Fox News contributor John Bolton used President Obama's upcoming trip to Israel as an opportunity to paint him as "the most hostile" U.S. president toward that nation in its history, ignoring the fact that Obama will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction from Israeli leaders during his trip.
On Wednesday, Obama will begin a three-day trip to the West Bank and Israel where he is slated to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Discussing the trip on America Live, Bolton said, "I think it's clear that President Obama is the most hostile president that America's had since the formation of Israel in 1948."
Bolton's comments are unenlightened at best, given that Israel will award Obama the Presidential Medal of Distinction during his visit for his "unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens." Obama will also be the first sitting U.S. president to receive the award. From The Hill:
President Obama will be awarded the Israeli Presidential Medal of Distinction during his visit to Israel next month, according to a report in the Times of Israel.
Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to receive the honor, which was announced by Israeli President Shimon Peres's office on Monday.
"Barack Obama is a true friend of the State of Israel, and has been since the beginning of his public life," said Peres in a statement announcing the decision.
The narrative that Obama is hostile toward Israel has long been advanced by Bolton and other right-wing media figures, even though Israel's own leaders have repeatedly praised the president for his record on Israel. In a March 2012 interview with Charlie Rose, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Obama is "a great president and a great friend of Israel," and that under Obama, security ties are "the best we've ever had." In August 2011, former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Fox's Greta Van Susteren, "I can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now." Barak has also praised Obama for doing "more" for Israeli security than any other U.S. president.
And Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly praised Obama for his administration's actions, including opposing a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state, helping to free Israelis detained in Cairo in September 2011, and helping fund a missile defense system.
Fox News contributor John Bolton has become the latest on-air personality employed by the network attached to a political action committee (PAC).
According to a report from The Center for Public Integrity, Bolton will head both Bolton for America PAC and Bolton for America Super PAC. The groups will work towards "restoring national security issues to their proper place on the political agenda," according to Bolton adviser Mark Groombridge.
Bolton has often used his airtime at Fox to make misleading attacks on President Obama and other Democrats, often on national security and foreign policy.
Several Fox News personalities smeared President Obama as an appeaser for using the phrase "peace in our time" during his second inaugural address. But President Reagan used the same words in a speech.
During his second inaugural address, Obama committed to "defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law." He added that the United States will support democracy across the globe and be "a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice." Obama explained that we must do this "not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice."
Fox contributors Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, and John Bolton seized on Obama's use of the words "peace in our time," claiming that Obama's use of the term recalled former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who used a similar phrase in 1938 when he announced that he had made a deal with Adolf Hitler to allow Nazi Germany to take over part of Czechoslovakia without firing a shot.
But Obama is not the only president to use the words "peace in our time." In a 1983 speech at a presentation ceremony for the Peace Corps Awards, Reagan said:
I am very pleased to honor these six fine Americans who have volunteered their time, skills, and experience to the cause of peace.
Seldom are we able to point to one person's work and pronounce it not only good and worthwhile but also a step toward building peace in our time. And today, we enjoy that good fortune and we can measure it sixfold. We're honoring six Americans who have dedicated themselves to the cause of peace -- Americans who have traveled voluntarily to unfamiliar lands to help citizens of developing nations. [emphasis added]
In 1985, the leading rabbi of the American conservative Jewish movement also used the phrase "peace in our time" while discussing potential arms talks between Reagan and Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev.
This history leaves us with the question: Do Goldberg, Krauthammer, and Bolton think Reagan was an appeaser?
From the January 17 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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The Los Angeles Times is giving credence to claims that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has feigned injury as an attempt to avoid testifying on Benghazi, posing the question to its readers in an online poll: "Did she fake it?"
Following reports that Clinton suffered a concussion after fainting, right-wing media figures, led by Fox News contributor John Bolton, speculated that she was faking in order to escape giving testimony on the September 11 attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Fox News hosts and contributors mocked Clinton as "suffering from acute Benghazi allergy" and downplayed her condition, with Bill O'Reilly stating, "I think she can make a phone call."
In a December 19 article, reporter Paul Richter gave credence to Bolton's claims. The article did cite a State Department spokeswoman, who slammed the speculation and called these rumors "completely untrue" and coming from "people who don't know what they're talking about." But the Times leaves the matter as a matter of legitimate debate between the conspiracy-minded critics and the State Department.
Emphasizing the point that the Times considers the concussion attack legitimate, posted above the article's text the paper posted a "Your take" online poll, asking readers "Did she fake it?"
Fox News figures accused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of faking an illness when she suffered a concussion after fainting due to dehydration. The State Department has criticized Fox News contributor John Bolton for engaging in "wild speculation based on no information."
From the December 6 edition of Fox News' Red Eye:
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From the November 20 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the November 7 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News provided one-sided coverage to support Mitt Romney's debate claim that President Obama began his presidency with "an apology tour." The lie, which was manufactured by Fox, has been debunked by fact-checkers and reporters numerous times, including repeated "pants on fire" ratings by PolitiFact.
During the October 22 debate, Mitt Romney said that President Obama began his administration with "an apology tour of going to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America," a claim he has used throughout his campaign. Romney went on to suggest that other countries saw this as a sign of weakness. During the October 23 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox highlighted the remarks and turned to Romney supporters John Bolton and Jack Keane to discuss the accusation. Fox News' one-sided analysis of Romney's claim lacked any mention of fact-checkers disputing the charge or even Obama's response to the attack during the debate.
Following Romney's claim during the debate, Obama called his remarks "the biggest whopper that's been told during the course of this campaign" and correctly pointed out that fact checkers and reporters have disagreed with Romney's claim.
"Obama did indeed mention past U.S. flaws in speeches. But in those addresses, Obama never uttered an apology for the United States. Those statements were snippets, part of larger and grander narratives about repairing ties, building friendship and working together."
During a October 23 broadcast on Bloomberg TV, chief Washington correspondent Peter Cook fact-checked Romney's claim and found that President Obama had not gone on "an apology tour" and that Romney "doesn't pass the fact-checking test here." An August 31 post on PolitiFact.com labeled Romney's claim "pants on fire." From the fact-check:
[A] review of Obama's foreign travels and remarks during his early presidency showed no evidence to support such a blunt and disparaging claim. (In later years, we found two formal apologies, but they were not at the start of his presidency and not part of a tour.)
While Obama's speeches contained some criticisms of past U.S. actions, he typically combined those passages with praise for the United States and its ideals, and he frequently mentioned how other countries had erred as well. We found not a single, full-throated apology in the bunch."
Media Matters intern Brian Rabitz contributed to this post.
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.
In a blow to his own network, Fox News host Juan Williams debunked false narratives that Fox News has frequently pushed since the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
In an opinion piece for The Hill, Williams offered three "corrections" for what he describes as "deliberate misinformation" from Republicans (and their conservative media mouthpieces) about the Benghazi attack.
Misinformation #1: "U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice lied to the American people in the days after the attack" when she suggested that a viral anti-Islam video sparked violence and wide-spread protests. Fox News has repeatedly pushed this narrative to make it seem like the administration was deliberately misleading the American people.
Correction: Williams debunked this false narrative, pointing to the "simple fact" that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, "confirmed that Rice told the truth in describing the assessment of the intelligence community at the time of her remarks." Williams went on to explain that CIA Director David Petraeus briefed the House Intelligence Committee with the same intel Rice used, as did Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy in testimony before Congress earlier in October. Furthermore, as Media Matters has previously exposed, Williams noted that Rice "stressed that there was an ongoing investigation where conclusions were subject to change." Indeed, Rice appeared on all major networks and repeatedly stressed that there was an ongoing investigation into the attacks.
Misinformation #2: "[R]equests for extra security in Benghazi were denied by the administration," coupled with the suggestion that the "attack would have been stopped, and the ambassador still alive, if the requests had been granted." Fox News pushed this myth on multiple occasions.
Correction: Williams pointed out that requests for extra security were focused on the embassy in Tripoli, not Benghazi, and State Department officials believe that even if the requests had been granted, they would likely not have changed what happened in Benghazi because the consulate would have been ill-equipped to respond to such a large-scale assault (again echoing a previous report by Media Matters):
From the October 11 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox's Neil Cavuto attacked President Obama for "congratulating" Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on winning the recent presidential election. But the White House did not congratulate Chavez at all; rather they congratulated the Venezuelan people for a high participation and a "peaceful election process," a response nearly identical to the one issued by President Bush in 2006.
During the October 9 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto reacted to a statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney on the Venezuelan election by asking if the White House gave "its blessings to a dictator critics say is muscling into his job for life?" When asked for commentary on the White House's response, Fox News contributor John Bolton suggested it "was a big mistake" and "very sad commentary." Bolton went on to attack Obama, claiming "it may have been Chicago-style politics that attracted the approval" of the White House:
However, the White House statement never congratulated Hugo Chavez on his victory. In a press gaggle en route to Bakersfield, California, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters pointed out "differences with President Chavez" but congratulated Venezuela on "a high level of participation" and a "relatively peaceful election process":
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN and vocal critic of the Obama administration, is often sought after by the media for his opinion on foreign policy issues, but his stake in the presidential election -- as a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney -- is rarely, if ever, disclosed by the outlets that publish him.
In addition to editorials in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and appearances on Fox News that left Bolton's ties to Romney undisclosed, a Media Matters review found editorials in five additional publications written or co-written by Bolton that left out that key information.
In total, Bolton wrote seven editorials that were critical of Obama's policies for The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Examiner, The Weekly Standard and the National Review after he became affiliated with the Romney campaign. None of those op-eds identified Bolton as a member of the Romney team. However, three of those outlets -- the Times, Monitor, and the Examiner -- have reported separately on Bolton's position in the campaign.