Right-wing media have responded to the attacks in Libya and Egypt by pointing fingers at President Obama, saying his policies are to blame. Conservative media figures are also amplifying blame by harping on the accusation that Obama does not attend daily intelligence briefings in person; in fact, Obama receives national security briefings in other ways throughout his day.
Conservative Media Blame Obama For Attacks In Middle East
Ann Coulter: Obama's Actions “Led To Our Ambassador Being Killed” In Libya. Referring to the attacks in Egypt and Libya, conservative pundit Ann Coulter said, “The president of the United States has just done something incredibly, stupidly naïve, harmful to United States foreign policy interests. Manifestly it led to our ambassador being killed by ginning up angry Muslims protesting outside first the Cairo embassy.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/13/12]
John Bolton: Violence In Libya And Egypt “In Large Measure Caused By The Weakness And Fecklessness Of The Obama Administration's Policies.” Fox News contributor and Romney foreign policy adviser John Bolton claimed that the attacks were “in large measure caused by the weakness and fecklessness of the Obama administration's policies,” adding, “Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafist in Libya and Egypt have seen weakness and they have acted on it. And the administration has done nothing today to correct the impression that the weakness in our policy remains.” He concluded: “We're at a very, very dangerous point and the president is not demonstrating appropriate American strength.” [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 9/12/12]
Rush Limbaugh: “Obama Gave Us The Arab Spring, Which Has Turned Into What Happened Yesterday.” On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh accused Obama of being responsible for the attacks, saying: “Obama gave us this. Obama gave us the Arab Spring, which has turned into what happened yesterday”:
LIMBAUGH: Remember, nobody cares about foreign policy. It's not a big deal in this campaign, and even if it is a big deal Obama's the clear, clear superior leader. It would just make more people vote for Obama.
He's just a whiz at foreign policy. He's made the world love us. Obama gave us this. Obama gave us the Arab Spring, which has turned into what happened yesterday. Obama praised it, sanctioned it, even tried to claim that they came about -- the Arab Spring and the Brotherhood were using the same tactics he used in his '08 campaign. He, at one time, was trying to make it sound like there was solidarity between him and these “democratic freedom fighters,” the Muslim Brotherhood. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/12/12]
Limbaugh: Attacks Abroad Are “Happening Because We Have A Disaster As A President.” On his radio show, Limbaugh claimed that attacks abroad are “happening because we have a disaster as a president”:
LIMBAUGH: This is happening because we have a disaster as a president. This is happening because American foreign policy as a whole is imploding. We have somebody in charge of American foreign policy, and his secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton, who have a politically correct, conflict resolution, United States is always at fault worldview. That is how you get Obama apologizing all over the world shortly after he takes office. That is why Obama bows to all these foreign leaders. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/13/12]
Ralph Peters: Middle East Violence “An Inevitable Result Of Weakness, Of Our President's Non-Policy, Non-Strategy.” Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters claimed that the violence in the Middle East was “an inevitable result of weakness, of our president's non-policy, non-strategy.” He added that Obama's “approach to the Middle East has been characterized by naiveté and the belief that by apologizing over and over again for America” and “pursuing appeasement” is “tragic.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/13/12]
Conservative Report: Obama Rarely Attends Daily Intelligence Briefings
Conservative Report: Obama Has Attended 43.8 Percent Of Daily Security Briefings. A report by the conservative group Government Accountability Institute examining official White House records found that from his inauguration through May 31, 2012, Obama attended 536 total daily intelligence briefings, or 43.8 percent of the 1225 days in that period. [Government Accountability Institute, 9/11/12]
Wash. Post's Marc Thiessen: “Why Is Obama Skipping More Than Half Of His Daily Intelligence Meetings?” In his Washington Post column, former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen touted the findings from GAI, a “new conservative investigative research organization,” to suggest that “national security has not necessarily been the personal priority the president makes it out to be,” adding, “It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting.” He concluded: “When Obama forgoes this daily intelligence meeting, he is consciously placing other priorities ahead of national security.” [The Washington Post, 9/10/12]
Right-Wing Media Attack Obama Over Daily Intelligence Briefings
Breitbart.com: “No Record Of Intel Briefings For Obama Week Before Embassy Attacks.” In a September 12 Breitbart.com post headlined “No Record Of Intel Briefings For Obama Week Before Embassy Attacks,” contributor Wynton Hall wrote that "[a]ccording to the White House calendar, there is no public record of President Barack Obama attending his daily intelligence briefing -- known as the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) -- in the week leading up to the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the murder of U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American members of his staff." The post continued:
The last time prior to the slayings that the White House calendar publicly confirms Mr. Obama attending his daily intelligence briefing was September 5th. (The White House did not provide an official public calendar for September 8-10.) Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at 5:00 p.m. yesterday.
The White House responded by claiming that President Obama reads daily intelligence reports, even if he does not attend the briefings personally. [Breitbart.com, 9/12/12]
Erick Erickson: “How Is It Possible For A President Of The United States To Skip These Briefings?!” In a September 12 post on his RedState.com blog, CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote, “As North African blows up this morning it is worth reminding you of Marc Thiessen's column from two days ago.” He then posted a short excerpt of Thiessen's column and added:
Forget North Africa for a minute. With the Israel -- Iran situation blowing up, how is it possible for a President of the United States to skip these briefings?! Add back in North Africa and it is even more damaging. [RedState.com, 9/12/12]
Fox Nation: “Obama Skipped Intel Briefings Before Embassy Attack.” A September 12 Fox Nation post linked to a Newsmax article under the headline “Obama Skipped Intel Briefings Before Embassy Attack.” The Newsmax article, headlined “Obama Didn't Attend Daily Intelligence Briefing Ahead of Embassy Attacks,” cited Breitbart.com's report. [Fox Nation, 9/12/12]
NewsBusters: “Has An Empty Chair Been Getting 56.2 Percent Of The President's Intelligence Briefings?” In a post calling on the media to “scrutinize just how infrequently President Obama sits in on his daily intelligence briefings,” NewsBusters.org managing editor Ken Sheperd wrote:
Has an empty chair been getting 56.2 percent of the president's intelligence briefings?
In light of the news that fatal attacks on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, may well have been pre-planned by al Qaeda operatives, it would behoove the media to scrutinize just how infrequently President Obama sits in on his daily intelligence briefings. As Marc Thiessen noted in an op-ed in Sunday, September 10 edition of the Washington Post, President Obama sat in on his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) a mere 536 times out of his first 1,225 days in office. That's a mere 43.8 percent of the time. “By contrast, Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting,” the American Enterprise Institute fellow noted.
When Obama ran for the presidency, he was ridiculed by conservatives for, among other things, his for penchant for voting “present” as a state and federal legislator. Now the criticism of President Obama might more appropriately be that he's voting “absent.” [NewsBusters, 9/12/12]
In Fact, Obama Still Receives Daily Intelligence Briefings And Has Regular Meetings On National Security
White House: “The President Of The United States Gets The Presidential Daily Briefing Every Day.” As The Hill reported, White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to questions about Thiessen's column by saying:
“He gets it every day, okay?” Carney said. “The president of the United States gets the presidential daily briefing every day. There is a document that he reads every day when he is not -- well, he always reads it every day because he's a voracious consumer of all of his briefing materials. And when he is physically here, most days he has a meeting in his office, the Oval one, with participants in his national security team.”
Asked if there was a distinction between the written briefing and sitting in on the daily meetings, Carney defended the president's record on national security.
“I believe if you compare our foreign policy record with the one that preceded this one, we're comfortable with that comparison,” Carney said. “And this president is very much steeped in the details of national security issues and the information that as president he received.” [The Hill, 9/11/12]
NSC Spokesman: Obama “Has Frequent National Security Meetings Beyond The Daily Briefing.” Politico reported that the White House disputed the report that Obama rarely attends daily intelligence briefings:
“The President is among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor wrote in an e-mail. “He receives and reads his [Presidential Daily Brief] every day, and most days when he's at the White House receives a briefing in person. When necessary he probes the arguments, requests more information or seeks alternate analysis. Sometimes that's via a written assessment and other times it's in person.”
The president also has frequent national security meetings beyond the daily briefing, and would also be briefed on the latest intelligence before meeting with a foreign leader, for example.
“Marc basically wrote a story culled from our public schedule that shows how Marc's old boss, President Bush, structured his day differently than President Obama,” Vietor wrote. “Not exactly breaking news to anyone who has covered this place for the last few years.” [Politico, 9/10/12]
Wash. Post's Jonathan Capehart: “Thiessen's Intelligence Question Misses The Point.” In a post responding to Thiessen's column titled, “Thiessen's intelligence question misses the point,” columnist Jonathan Capehart wrote that “insistence on face-to-face gatherings ignores two important facts. First, different presidents take in information in different ways. Second, the information being imparted is useless if the long series of dots are not connected.” Capehart added:
Lauding the previous occupant of the Oval Office, Thiessen wrote, “By contrast, Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.” Given the attacks of Sept. 11 and the misguided war in Iraq that followed, this is a meaningless assertion. Meanwhile, the man Thiessen basically brands a national-security slacker somehow was able to give the order that took out bin Laden. What a president knows is important. What he does with that knowledge is essential to the safety and security of the nation. [The Washington Post, 9/11/12]