In reporting on the manner in which President Obama greeted Japanese Emperor Akihito, Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy repeatedly claimed that “dating back to the very founding of this Republic, American leaders do not bow to leaders of other countries.” In fact, Obama's greeting was far from unprecedented, as several past Presidents have bowed while greeting foreign leaders. Additionally, in reporting on Obama's bow, Fox & Friends repeatedly cited right-wing blog Hot Air in their reports on Obama's greeting.
Doocy repeatedly claimed Obama's greeting is unprecedented
DOOCY: Two hundred and thirty-three years of precendent dating back to the very founding of this Republic, American leaders do not bow to leaders of other countries. They are on par. Oops. Take a look, there's the President of the United States bowing to the Emperor of Japan.
DOOCY: You know this is a long standing precedence going back to the founding of the Republic, American Presidents don't bow to anybody. But the President, there he is, bowing. He bowed to King Abdullah earlier in the year as well. The administration said, look it's just protocol, its one of those things they do. You've been in an administration where a President has faced-look there's Abdullah right there. He's going down-why doesn't the, when you look at this, what do you think?
ROVE: I think it was inappropriate.
In fact, numerous past Presidents have bowed while meeting foreign leaders
Nixon bowed while meeting Japanese Emperor. According to a November 15 post on his ABC News.com blog, Political Punch, Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper reported that Obama's bow was not “unprecedented.” Tapper cited “an academic with expertise about the Japanese Empire” as noting: “At their 1971 meeting in Alaska, the first visit of a Japanese Emperor to America, President Nixon bowed and referred to Emperor Hirohito and his wife repeatedly as 'Your Imperial Majesties.'... Nixon gets the bow right. Slight arch from the waist hands at his side.” Below is the photo to which the Political Punch is referring:
Clinton was criticized for appearing to bow when greeting Akihito in 1994. A June 19, 1994 New York Times article reported of President Bill Clinton's meeting with Akihito: “It wasn't a bow, exactly. But Mr. Clinton came close. He inclined his head and shoulders forward, he pressed his hands together. It lasted no longer than a snapshot, but the image on the South Lawn was indelible: an obsequent President, and the Emperor of Japan.” The article added: “But the 'thou need not bow' commandment from the State Department's protocol office maintained a constancy of more than 200 years. Administration officials scurried to insist that the eager-to-please President had not really done the unthinkable. 'It was not a bow-bow, if you know what I mean,' said Ambassador Molly Raiser, the chief of protocol.” [New York Times, 6/19/94]
Eisenhower bowed before Charles De Gaulle. A September 2, 1959 Associated Press photo shows President Dwight Eisenhower bowing his head while meeting French President Charles De Gaulle. The caption of the photograph read: “President Dwight Eisenhower bows as he acknowledges speech of greeting by French President Charles De Gaulle on his arrival at Le Bourget near Paris on Sept. 2, 1959. Between the two chief executives is Ludovic Chancel, French Chief of Protocol.”
[AP image #5909020306 (registration required), dated 09/02/1959]
Doocy repeatedly cited right-wing blog Hot Air in reports on Obama's bow
Doocy highlighted Hot Air post on images of other world leaders not bowing to Akihito. From the November 16 edition of Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: On Hot Air.com, you know it is interesting, the University of Connecticut College Republicans put together a montage. There were forty-six world leaders who met the Emperor, and only one of them, the President of the United States, actually did any bowing.
Fox & Friends chyron later adopted language from Hot Air post without attribution. Fox & Friends aired on-screen text that stated, “46 Handshakes & 1 Bow,” echoing the title of the November 15 Hot Air post, “Video: 46 handshakes, one bow.”