By GEORGE E. CURRY
Fox News, the unofficial arm of the Republican Party that claims to be fair and balanced, is conducting an all-out assault on President Obama, doing everything from letting Mitt Romney advisers masquerade as objective commentators to ignoring facts when a high-profile Obama critic or Fox News commentator make unfounded charges.
MediaMatters.org, the watchdog group, has cataloged numerous instances of Fox’s one-side and unethical behavior.
“Fox News has repeatedly hosted advisers to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney without disclosing that they are helping his campaign. Media Matters examined recent appearances by advisers John Bolton, Jay Sekulow and Walid Phares, who have all appeared on Fox News and criticized the Obama administration. Bolton and Phares are Fox News contributors, while Sekulow is a frequent Fox News guest,” the group stated.
“Bolton, a Romney foreign policy adviser, said on Fox News that Obama’s foreign policy is ‘confused and incoherent and incompetent’ and defended Romney’s foreign policy experience. Sekulow, a Romney legal adviser, has repeatedly appeared on Fox to attack the Obama administration on a variety of legal issues. And Phares, a member of Romney’s foreign policy and national security advisory team, has criticized the Obama administration’s handling of Syria and Afghanistan on Fox.”
Greta Van Susteren, host of “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” said on May 3: “One year after the killing of bin Laden, Republicans are blasting President Obama for spiking the football. And now, a veterans group is slamming the president for taking the credit instead of giving it to the special forces.”
She aired part of the ad and said, “What I take away from that ad is that the veterans are deeply disturbed – this group of veterans, maybe not all veterans, but this one – and they were saying that he was arrogant and taking credit, that he was not humble and had no humility … it’s very boorish to take credit away from those brave men … at the scene, who did actually execute this unbelievable killing of Osama bin Laden.”
Fox also allowed guests to get away with a similar line of attack.
During the Fox News’ Special Report on May 3, guest host John Roberts announced that a group called Veterans for a Strong America had released an ad “accusing President Obama of spiking the football over Osama bin Laden.” Fox aired part of the ad that claimed “heroes don’t spike the football.”
Fox contributor and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said on the program: “It isn’t just that Obama has managed to turn a positive, something he did well, into a negative by attacking, using it as a partisan weapon which diminishes him, also it diminishes the solemnity of the event, which was a national event, and he used it, he appropriated it for himself. It is the narcissism, and that is the deeper issue here, how they quote Obama again and again, using the first personal pronoun in his announcement of the event. It’s all about me, I, commander-in-chief, I ordered, I did this. What about the guys out there who did it and who risked their lives?”
As Media Matters points out, the personal references by Obama were taken out of context and the president has often given credit to field operatives. In his May 2, 2011 announcement that Bin Laden had been killed, the president said, “A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
He also stated, “We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.”
In a rare dissent from Fox News orthodoxy, host Megyn Kelly said in an interview with the founder of the veterans group, “He [Obama] did give thanks to the others, and of course had to mention the first person in discussing how things went down.”
Neither Kelly nor anyone else at Fox News disclosed that Joel Arends, whose group created the veterans’ ad, is a longtime Republican operative. He worked on the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain and is chairman of the Lincoln County, S.D. Republican Party.
Fox News was created by Roger Ailes, a former media adviser to Richard Nixon and other Republican figures. He supported the 1988 scheme to link Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis to Willie Horton, a Black convicted felon. Ailes told the New York Times, “The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it.”
There is no question that Ailes’ network is using a knife this time – to stab Obama in the back.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.