Andrew Napolitano, host of Fox Business' Freedom Watch and a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, used his first show after the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death to raise questions about whether the government is “telling us the truth or pulling a fast one to save Obama's lousy presidency.” He also asked a guest, “Do you believe he's dead, or do you want some more evidence? A photograph, a testimony of an eyewitness? Something other than the words of a president whose words we have doubted before?”
To characterize Monday's episode of Freedom Watch as “bizarre” would be charitable. He began the show by declaring, “Osama bin Laden assassinated. Killed on the illegal whim of the president.” In one of his monologues on the topic, Napolitano again appeared to acknowledge that bin Laden is dead: “As we know from today's reaction across the country, from Republicans and Democrats and liberals and conservatives, the demise of this monster has brought great joy and unity.”
Then, later in his comments, Napolitano said Obama made the announcement about bin Laden's death “with an eye on his lagging poll numbers and the sickening economy over which he presides.” (He didn't explain how he knew Obama had his “eye” on these things.) He then went on his “lousy presidency” rant:
NAPOLITANO: But last night a little before midnight here on the east coast, President Obama, with an eye on his lagging poll numbers and the sickening economy over which he presides, announced in a quick 40 minutes of time, 40 of America's best Navy SEALs found bin Laden, asked him to surrender and when he declined, blew his brains out. And then he told us after bin Laden's remains were identified they were dumped at sea, in accordance with Muslim tradition. No photos, no testimony from eyewitnesses, just the president's word that he's dead and, to repeat a famous phrase, now sleeps with the fishes.
Of course, the burial at sea is new to most Americans. It is new to many Muslims as well. Bin Laden belonged to a Muslim sect that believes in anonymous burial in the earth. Beyond the issue of whether the government is telling us the truth or pulling a fast one to save Obama's lousy presidency, is the issue of the lawful power of the president to order someone killed, no matter how monstrous, how dangerous, or how unpopular.
Napolitano also hosted former CIA officer Michael Scheuer -- who has made his own share of outrageous statements -- to discuss bin Laden's death. Napolitano asked him, “Do you believe he's dead, or do you want some more evidence?” and inquired if Scheuer thought there would always be “that lingering doubt amongst Americans” because bin Laden's body had already been buried at sea:
NAPOLITANO: Do you believe he's dead, or do you want some more evidence? A photograph, a testimony of an eyewitness? Something other than the words of a president whose words we have doubted before?
SCHEUER: Well, Judge, I think what I go with is the men and women on the ground. If they didn't get him, they would admit it. The really, the success story here is not the president who did the right thing at last, but the true story is the young men and women who serve the United States in the military and the intelligence services. They risked their lives, they did their job. And if he's not dead, they'll never be able to keep that a secret.
NAPOLITANO: All right, but the intelligence services of which you were once a part want as much closure to this as the American public does. So with the body gone, or sleeping with the fishes, won't there always be that lingering doubt amongst Americans: “Well, where is the body? How do we know he's dead? Why isn't there a picture of it? Why didn't we see it before they shipped it off to sea?”
SCHEUER: I think much more than just a likelihood, Judge, I think we're already in it. The conspiracy people are going to spin this up to a very high degree and even if they release the pictures they claim they have, with Photoshop and other programs, you can doctor any, any photograph to make it look however you want. So I think it perhaps might have been wiser to keep the body or at least show the body before they buried it.
Fox Business is frequently home to conspiracy theories. Napolitano recently hosted Jesse Ventura to reference “the truth of 9/11.” Likewise, the host of Follow the Money, Eric Bolling, led an embarrassing discussion about the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate that included speculation about “Photoshopped” borders and “layering” on the document.
What else do Napolitano and Bolling have in common? They're both candidates to fill Glenn Beck's slot on Fox News.
Forays into conspiracy-theory territory would once have endangered a journalist's career. At Fox, they qualify you for a promotion.