Fox's Word Games Create Parallel Universe Of Obama Statements On Benghazi

Since the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News has regularly criticized President Obama over semantics and taken his words out of context, creating a fictional version of Obama's handling of the attack.

When Obama Called The Benghazi Attack An “Act Of Terror”...

Sept. 12: Obama Said Of Benghazi: “No Acts Of Terror Will Ever Shake The Resolve Of This Great Nation.” On Sept. 12, the day after the attack on the Benghazi compound, President Obama gave a speech in the Rose Garden on the deaths of four U.S. diplomatic staff. He said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.” [, 9/12/12]

Sept. 13: Obama Again Referred To The Benghazi Attack As An “Act Of Terror” In Colorado. Campaigning in Golden, Colorado, on Sept. 13, Obama again classified the Benghazi attack as an “act of terror.” He told the crowd, “So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me:  To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.” [, 9/13/12]

Sept. 13: In Nevada, Obama Said Of Benghazi: “No Act Of Terror Will Dim The Light” Of American Values. Later on Sept. 13, Obama again labeled the Benghazi violence an “act of terror.” He told a crowd in Las Vegas, Nevada, “As for the ones we lost last night:  I want to assure you, we will bring their killers to justice. And we want to send a message all around the world -- anybody who would do us harm:  No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.” [, 9/13/12]

... Fox Claimed Obama Wasn't Talking About Benghazi

Kelly: “Declaring Something An Act Of Terror Does Not Necessarily Mean You Are Declaring It A Terror Attack.”  On the October 18 edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly dismissed Obama's labeling the Benghazi attack an act of terror. She claimed, “Declaring something an attack of terror does not necessarily mean you are declaring it a terror attack. Any act that's going to kill our ambassador in this fashion could be described as an act of terror. That's not necessarily the same as declaring it a terrorist attack.” [Fox News, America Live, 10/18/12] 

Roberts: “It's Unclear” Whether Obama Was Referencing Benghazi When He Said “Acts Of Terror.” Reporting on Fox's “straight news” program America's Newsroom on October 17, correspondent John Roberts stated, “So what was it that the president actually said at the Rose Garden on the 12th of September? He said, 'No act of terror -- acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.' But that came at the end of his remarks, and it's unclear, at least in many people's minds, whether that was a direct reference to the attack on the Benghazi consulate.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 10/17/12]

Hannity: Obama Was “Talking About September 11, 2001. He Doesn't Talk About Benghazi Being An Act Of Terror.” Speaking with Romney adviser John Sununu on his Fox News program, Sean Hannity claimed that during Obama's Rose Garden speech on the Benghazi attack, he was “talking about September 11, 2001. He doesn't talk about Benghazi being an act of terror.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/16/12]

Baier: When Obama Said “Acts Of Terror,” He Wasn't “Specifically Speaking About Benghazi.” During Fox News' coverage of the October 16 presidential debate, host Bret Baier said that Obama wasn't “specifically speaking about Benghazi”  when he referred to an act of terror. Instead, Baier said, the president was speaking “generically.” [Fox News, Presidential Debate Coverage, 10/16/12]

Fox's Eric Bolling: “Obama Never Claimed Terror For Weeks.” The night of the October 16 presidential debate, Fox co-host Eric Bolling tweeted that moderator Candy Crowley was wrong when she told Mitt Romney that the day after the Benghazi attack, Obama called the violence an act of terror. Bolling tweeted:


[, 10/16/12]

For more on how Fox tried to dismiss Obama's labeling of the Benghazi attack as an act of terror, see here.

When Obama Agreed That Events Surrounding Benghazi Attack Were “Not Optimal”...

Obama Agrees With Stewart's Suggestion That Administration Did Not Have “The Optimal Response” To Benghazi. On the October 18 broadcast of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart asked President Obama about the administration's response to the attack in Benghazi. Stewart said, “Is part of the investigation helping the communication between these divisions? Not just what happened in Benghazi, but what happened within. Because I would say, even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as all of us being on the same page.” President Obama replied, “Here's what I'll say. If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal. We're going to fix it. All of it.” [Comedy Central, The Daily Show, 10/18/12]

... Fox Suggested Obama Has A Pattern Of Downplaying Americans' Deaths In Libya

Doocy: Optimal Is “An Embarrassing Word For The President To Use.” On the October 19 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts talked to Fox host Bret Baier about the president's appearance on The Daily Show. Co-host Steve Doocy said, “There are a lot of people who, now, this morning, are saying, 'not optimal?' That is an embarrassing word for the president of the United States to use.”  Baier did note that Stewart used the phrase in a question to Obama, but then said, “The problem is, is that -- just the use of that phrase, with the four Americans dead, is a tough thing. And it's not -- it's tough to even hear in the context of this time.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/19/12]

Kilmeade: “There's A Bit Of A Pattern” Of Obama Downplaying American Deaths In Libya. During the same Fox & Friends segment, co-host Brian Kilmeade told Baier, “It plays in also, when he said 'bumps in the road' when it comes to those attacks. So that's similar: 'Optimal.' 'Bumps in the road.' It's kind of the same pattern. So there's a bit of a pattern there.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/19/12]

For more on right-wing media spinning Obama's “not optimal” comment, see here.

When Obama Said New Governments May Have “Bumps In The Road” In Transition To Democracy...

Obama Stated He Embraced Countries' Transitions To Democracy Even While Realizing There Might Be “Bumps In The Road.” During the September 23 edition of 60 Minutes, CBS' Steve Kroft asked Obama whether recent events in the Middle East have “given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring.” Obama responded that “it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights” even though he was “pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of those places, the one organizing principle has been Islam.” [, 9/23/12]

... Fox Claimed That Obama Called The Death Of Four Americans In Libya “Just A Bump In The Road”

Hannity: Obama Called “Vicious Murder Of Four Americans ... Just A Bump In The Road.” On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said: "[T]he commander-in-chief had the nerve to liken this terrorist attack and the vicious murder of four Americans -- what he calls it, just a bump in the road." Hannity then showed video that omitted Obama's comments referring to democratic movements in the Middle East. He continued: “Now a U.S. ambassador, two Navy SEALs, and another American are assassinated -- he calls it a bump in the road?” [Fox News, Hannity9/24/12, via Media Matters]

Krauthammer: Media Would Go Crazy “If Romney Had Said The Death Of Our Ambassador ... Is A Bump In The Road.” On Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed that Obama said “the death of our ambassador” and “the death of three other Americans” “is a bump in the road.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/24/12, via Media Matters]

Fox's Kilmeade: When Obama “Talked About ... The Killings In Libya, He Called It Bumps In The Road.” On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asserted that Obama called the deaths of Americans “bumps in the road” during his 60 Minutes interview. [Fox News, Fox & Friends9/25/12, via Media Matters]

Media Matters intern Brendan Karet contributed to this post.