“There are other shoes yet to drop, I have a feeling.”
That's how Fox News' Jon Scott, on May 21, wrapped up what has become a truly endless string of Fox segments about the recent Obama administration controversies regarding the IRS, the Department of Justice, and the terror attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Guest Jonah Goldberg agreed with Scott's bad-news-for-Obama assessment: “I don't think we're at the bottom of this by a long stretch.”
Indeed, inside the Fox News bubble scandal mania continues to sweep the nation, to the point where on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend holiday the White House was nervous that “the only thing” Americans were going to discuss over backyard barbecues were “the Obama scandals.” That, according to the insights of Eric Bolling. (Fact: Polling shows Americans are much more interested in the economy than congressional investigations.)
Never shy about uncorking unprovable, and sometimes laughable, allegations about Obama, the Fox crew in recent days has thrown any semblance of caution to the wind and shifted into conjecture overdrive. Buoyed by the emergence of legitimate administration controversies, and driven by the warped assumption that the president has suffered grave political wounds (polling data confirms he has not), Fox programming now often resembles little more than right-wing bull sessions about pending resignations and shattered second terms.
The irony is there are actual investigations currently underway examining possible wrongdoing within the administration. For instance, it's hard to downplay the significance of the Justice Department's misstep in naming Fox News' James Rosen (or any journalist) as a possible co-conspirator in an FBI request for a search warrant for Rosen's personal emails and phone records.
But Fox News can't be bothered with waiting for official findings and it gets frustrated when criminal cover-ups involving the White House don't emerge. So, convinced that all misconduct emanates directly from the West Wing, Fox programming has become a “scandal” closed loop where kitchen sink what-if's reign supreme.
And that leads to spectacles such as Bernard Goldberg's baseless claim the administration “went after” Rosen simply because he works for Fox News. There's no evidence anyone at the White House knew about, let alone instigated, the FBI probe. And as the Associated Press leak investigation indicates, the administration has not been shy about tracking journalists, regardless of their employer. No matter. It just sounds better when Fox talkers construct a vast conspiracy: Obama personally targeted Rosen!
And how about the completely fact-free interpretation offered up around the clock in recent days that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his May 15 testimony when answering questions about the AP probe?
And remember Benghazi? At the beginning of the month Fox News was, once again, obsessed over it and treated the eight-month-old story of the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost as the defining scandal of the Obama administration. Despite a mostly news-less Congressional hearing, and despite the fact ABC News' much-touted “exclusive” regarding White House emails about the editing of the Benghazi talking points fell apart, Fox has worked hard to keep the story in the “scandal” trifecta mix.
On May 29, Fox's Charles Krauthammer announced “the biggest scandal of all” revolved around what Obama did the night of the Benghazi attack. Pointing to no actual evidence, Krauthammer suggested that while Americans were still under attack “and fighting for their lives” on September 11, 2011, the president was already plotting an all-consuming White House cover-up. (Fox alum Glenn Beck later jumped into the same leaky boat as Krauthammer.)
That was nothing compared to the charade staged by Fox & Friends when co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed “no one seemed to know where” national security adviser Tom Donilon was the night of the terror attack. Fox News then put up on the screen a photograph of Obama huddling with his top aides in the Oval Office on the night of the Benghazi attack. Featured prominently in the photo with Obama? Tom Donilon.
Today, Fox News remains most animated about the controversy over the IRS's improper scrutiny of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status.
With all the evidence indicating the White House was completely uninvolved in the review process, Fox has been happy to try to creatively connect non-existent points in order to expand the controversy so that it encompasses the umbrella claim of ruthless Obama “intimidation.”
Fox & Friends this week brought back Fox's beloved right-wing saga involving Gibson Guitar in a failed attempt to claim the company's well-documented battle with the Department of Interior over rare imported wood was somehow tied into the IRS's targeting of conservative groups. (“Some people are trying to put together the dots,” explained co-host Gretchen Carlson.)
And then there's the ridiculous claim that Obama's IRS is going to take revenge on Tea Party members via Obamacare, by delaying their insurance requests for surgeries. (Not exactly.) Followed by claims the IRS tax-exemption review process was actually a sinister form of "voter suppression." (One so severe it swayed the entire 2012 election, according to Rush Limbaugh.)
On and on the wild scenarios are hatched, each more unnerving than the other. For years, Fox hoped to bask in Obama administration controversies. Now some have finally materialized, but Fox can't tame its conspiratorial streak.