Will Fox News hold Beck, Hannity responsible for spreading "wildly exaggerated" Obama trip cost claim?
Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL
Tonight, Fox News Special Report reported what most of us already knew: that the purported $200 million per day cost of President Obama's trip to India and Asia is, as Wendell Goler quoted the White House, "wildly exaggerated."
What Special Report didn't report: Fox News' own hosts have been peddling that bogus claim.
As we've documented, both Hannity and Beck have bandied about the $200 million figure – plucked from an Indian newspaper and allegedly made by an anonymous source – to attack Obama and his trip to India. Beck did eventually concede that he didn't know if the numbers were real, but he continued to promote them anyway. Hannity and Beck also denounced the booking of the entire Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai for the trip, with Beck overstating the number of rooms in the hotel (it's 570, not 800).
In his report on Special Report, Goler highlighted the White House's denial of the "wildly exaggerated" claim, adding that taking over the entire Taj Mahal hotel -- which was a target of a terrorist attack two years ago -- "was the call of the Secret Service."
Later in the show, during the "All-Star Panel" segment, host Bret Baier aired clips of White House and Pentagon officials denying the claims, adding that "$200 million a day, the administration is saying ... is just far-fetched and out of left field."
The panelists joined in shooting down the bogus attacks:
- Fred Barnes said, "I'm all for protecting the president wherever he goes. I don't think it costs $200 million a day -- that sounds a little high -- but he is the president of the United States, and he needs to be protected."
- A.B. Stoddard denounced "these fictional cost estimates that we don't even have evidence of."
- Even Charles Krauthammer came to Obama's defense: "If that's what it takes to make sure that not a hair on his head is touched, particularly abroad, particularly in a city that had suffered one of the most savage and successful terror attacks anywhere in Mumbai, I'd spend every penny. ... You want people in control of every inch of that hotel, and that's natural."
But Baier, Goler and the panelists all sidestepped the fact that Fox News' own hosts were promoting those "far-fetched and out of left field" numbers. Baier pointed out it came from "an Indian press report" that the administration had to "deal with" -- but not that his Fox News co-workers were given that press report prominence.
It makes little sense for Fox News to report the truth about a bogus claim, then not insist that Fox News hosts who promoted that bogus claim correct the record. Will that happen in the next few days? We shall see.