After 47 Senate Republicans signed a letter to Iranian leaders attempting to undercut President Obama's negotiations with that country, conservative media figures have defended the widely criticized move by pointing to a 2007 Syrian meeting then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had with President Bashar al-Assad. But as MSNBC.com's Steve Benen noted, "the parallels to this new scandal are tenuous, at best."
While the Bush White House strongly opposed the trip, Pelosi was accompanied at the meeting by a Republican congressman and Bush State Department officials. She informed the White House and State Department of her trip, and foreign policy experts said that her visit didn't stray from a "typical" congressional visit. Three Republican congressmen also met with Assad prior to her visit.
47 Republicans, led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), signed a March 9 letter telling Iranian officials that any nuclear agreement would face scrutiny from the Republican-led Senate and could be undone by a future president. The letter drew criticism from the White House, diplomacy experts, and even some Republicans.
Conservatives have attempted to rebut criticism by drawing a direct parallel to an April 4, 2007, meeting Pelosi had with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. For example:
Right-wing media are using the Paris terrorist attack to falsely claim Hillary Clinton has encouraged empathizing with terrorists like the ones who carried out the attack. But conservatives' attacks on Clinton are badly distorting remarks she made during a December speech in which she emphasized the value of understanding one's enemy, and she has repeatedly stated her opposition to negotiating with violent ideological groups.
In coverage of President Obama's address to the United Nations General Assembly, Fox New figures complained that it took "18 minutes" for Obama to mention the Islamic State terrorist group, despite the fact that Obama referenced "terrorists in Syria and Iraq" in the opening minutes of his remarks, which centered around the threat of terrorism.
Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his public relations firm have been coordinating interviews for soldiers criticizing the actions of recently-released Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Fox News and its allies have ramped up their efforts in recent days to counteract an upcoming biography of network CEO Roger Ailes.
Gabriel Sherman, a New York magazine reporter, is set to release The Loudest Voice in the Room later this month. The first details from the book have started to leak out, including that Ailes reportedly was the mastermind of a heavily criticized campaign-style anti-Obama video that aired on Fox and that he told Fox News executives before the 2012 election that he "want[s] to elect the next president."
The network has sought to discredit Sherman for more than a year, with Fox personalities attacking Sherman as a "phoney journalist" and an "embarrassment." According to Politico, Ailes cooperated with a biography published last year by author Zev Chafets "because he was eager to preempt Sherman's version with a more favorable and hopefully sympathetic account of his legacy."
As publicity for Sherman's book heats up, Fox's campaign to destroy it is also gathering steam.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter that ran today, Ailes attacks Sherman's book, claiming that publisher Random House "refused to fact check the content with me or Fox News; that tells you everything you need to know about this book and its agenda." (In a statement to Politico's Dylan Byers, Sherman responds that Ailes turned down "a dozen" requests to speak about the book, and says that a " team of two fact-checkers spent more than 2,000 hours vetting the manuscript before publication.")
Howard Kurtz highlighted the Hollywood Reporter interview in a piece for FoxNews.com, and noted that it "comes as Random House is preparing to publish a book about Ailes by New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman."
The right is selectively quoting an Inspector General (IG) report to accuse the State Department of ignoring the recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB). In fact, the IG report noted that the State Department is making progress implementing the ARB recommendations and praised its leadership as a model for future ARB responses.
Though Fox News was effusive in its praise of new hire Howard Kurtz, several of the network's hosts and contributors have harshly criticized Kurtz in the past, labeling him "full of crap," "a walking conflict of interest," and someone who does "the bidding of Media Matters."
In a June 20 press release, Fox announced that beginning July 1, Kurtz "will anchor a version of what is now called Fox News Watch, which focuses on the media, with a new format during the weekends," while also serving as an on-air analyst and writer for FoxNews.com. His switch to Fox will mark the end of his tenure at CNN's Reliable Sources, a weekly media criticism show that he has hosted for the past 15 years.
Fox News contributor Byron York suggested that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's congressional testimony on Benghazi indicated that President Obama failed to order the military to protect Americans under attack. However, Panetta testified that Obama explicitly directed him to take military action to protect American lives.
On Fox's America's Newsroom on Friday, guest host Rick Folbaum aired clips of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questioning Panetta during Thursday's hearing about the attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. York described Panetta's testimony as confirming that "[a]fter having a prescheduled meeting in the afternoon on that day, Secretary Panetta spoke to [President Obama] no more." York then said, "I think what became clear with Lindsey Graham's questioning about possible military activity is that nobody in the Pentagon would have ordered military action without a specific order from the president. And the president wasn't around."
But Panetta's very testimony refutes York's accusation: Panetta made it clear that Obama ordered Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and himself to take all necessary action to protect Americans under attack.
From the October 13 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
Loading the player reg...
Popping up at Big Government, Richard Grenell has responded to our blog post highlighting his specious suggestion that the White House is specifically targeting federal employees with emails on health care reform. But he's still missing the point, and he still doesn't substantiate his claims.
Grenell writes that "Media Matters doesn't deny that the unsolicited emails have been sent but rather they defend the emails by saying, 'it appears they are sent out to everyone on the whitehouse.gov mailing list.' " Actually, while we haven't denied that the emails were sent -- since we know that those very same emails have been sent to people on the White House email list who aren't federal employees -- we reserved definitive judgment on whether the emails were sent "unsolicited," the key charge Grenell repeatedly makes.
However, Grenell has provided no evidence that these emails were, in fact, sent unsolicited to federal employees, beyond the claims of a pair of federal employees that they were. Meanwhile, the White House has responded to Grenell, in an editor's note attached to his CBSNews.com column in which he first made his accusation:
The White House is disputing a claim in this article that e-mails are being sent to people who don't want them. The communications director for the Office of Health Reform, Linda Douglass, said Grenell's assertions are "inaccurate."
"Emailed updates about health insurance reform legislation are sent periodically to members of the public who sign up to receive them. No one is sent unsolicited emails. Mr. Grenell would have learned this if he had called the White House to ask who receives the emails, but he did not contact us before writing. The assertions made in his column are inaccurate," Douglass said in a statement.
That's right -- the White House is saying that no one receives its emails unsolicited. Grenell has yet to respond to the White House statement.
Further, both of the White House emails Grenell attached to his blog post have one important little word at the end: "Unsubscribe." If these federal employees he cites are so offended by these White House emails, they can easily click on that "unsubscribe" link. Grenell offers no evidence they have done that.
Amazingly, Grenell still insists that the emails use "scare tactics that are clearly meant as threats." But if non-federal employees are receiving those same emails -- which Grenell does not deny -- that purported "threat" is obviously not directed at federal employees, as he keeps claiming. Or, if it is directed at federal employees, it's pretty dumb to send the same "threat" to everyone else on the White House email list.
Grenell is still peddling something he has yet to prove exists beyond paranoiac fantasies.