Fox News' Bill Hemmer attempted to prop up Republican accusations that President Obama cannot be trusted by fantasizing that Obama's historically low number of executive orders might actually constitute a “presidential record” high.
On the February 10 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) questioned Obama's trustworthiness, citing Speaker of the House John Boehner's claim last week that the House could not move forward with immigration reform because of a mistrust in the president. When McCarthy echoed that Obama has created a “lack of trust” with Congress, Hemmer cited Obama's use of executive orders -- perhaps at record highs, according to the host -- as a possible cause of that mistrust:
HEMMER: You talked about Obamacare and executive actions. We have found, going back to March of 2013, 122 executive orders, not just on Obamacare but every executive order, apparently, according to the research through the Federal Register and Whitehouse.gov. 122 going back to March of 2010. I don't know if that's a presidential record, but that goes to the point that you're making, about when you pass laws, and you change laws, what does that law then look like.
Fox must not have looked up the numbers on any other president's use of executive orders. Obama has issued fewer executive orders per year on average than any president in the last 117 years. In his first 5 years in office, Obama has issued 168 executive orders. To put that in context, at this same point in his presidency, Reagan had issued 256. George W. Bush had issued 197. Here's what Obama's “presidential record” looks like in chart form:
By selecting an arbitrary date range rather than looking at Obama's presidency as a whole, Fox continues the right-wing myth that Obama's use of executive orders signifies an unprecedented attempt to rule by “fiat.”
It also enables the network to validate GOP officials' excuse for refusing to move on bipartisan legislation instead of focusing on the more likely reason for inaction -- fear of right-wing radio.