Last week has been described by many in the press as the worst week yet for the Obama presidency. It was a week that saw purported scandals hyped furiously by Fox News and other right-wing media. They almost cheerfully segued from Benghazi to the IRS to the Associated Press, and then looped back for more of the same.
Most of the reports were rife with falsehoods and errors. Most striking was the story aired by ABC’s Jonathan Karl who blatantly lied about his “exclusive” access to internal administration emails but, as it turned out, he not only did not have any emails, he unethically regurgitated false and damaging misrepresentations fed to him by Republicans in congress. And while he issued a vague note of regret for the phony attributions, he has yet to admit that his sources were partisans with an axe to grind. [NOTE: David Shuster appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning and smacked down GOP apologist Jennifer Rubin in grand fashion on this subject. Video below].
Ever since these stories emerged, Republicans have been spinning with feverish glee in the expectation that they might bring down this president that they hate with such vicious intensity. And as an added bonus, refocusing attention on manufactured melodramas allows them to avoid doing any actual work for the people they supposedly represent. The GOP House has voted 38 times to repeal ObamaCare, but not once for a jobs bill.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the witch hunt. Obama’s approval rating has risen 6 points since March in a new CNN poll. And majorities say that they believe Obama’s statements about Benghazi and the IRS. So despite the aggravated bluster of the right, Obama’s fortunes have been faring well.
So how does Fox News react to a scenario wherein they have flung virtually all of the feces they could gather and none if it sticks to their target? Being Fox News they simply get dirtier and more insane as their desperation builds.
Each of the headlines in these stories were built from scratch to disparage the President. And each has not even a smidgen of truth.
The item asserting that Obama “Admits He’s A Socialist,” was wrenched from an article in the New York Times where the author offered his opinion that Obama longed to “go Bulworth.” That was a reference to the Warren Beatty movie where he played a senator who abandoned the pretenses of politicking and went out to say what he really thought, including some positive remarks about socialism. However, the author of the Times article never mentioned the socialism part of the story. He only meant to refer to the straight-talk that Beatty embraced. And more importantly, Obama never mentioned any of it. It was all the musings of the Times author. So there was no “admission” by Obama by any stretch of the imagination.
In the article from the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel presents her theory that Obama was secretly signalling to people way down the ladder from the White House, his desire that they target conservative non-profits seeking tax-exempt status. The method he used was to say things that he believed. How insidious. Strassel’s idiotic theory would mean that anything any public figure says is evidence of complicity if some other people he’s never met do something illegal or unethical connected to that opinion. For instance, George W. Bush would be guilty of homicide because he publicly stated his opinion that abortion is murder and then George Tiller, a doctor who provides abortions, was fatally shot at his church. See how easy that was?
In the other two headlines Fox simply plucked the word “irrelevant” out of comments made by White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer without providing any context. In the first one Pfeiffer was asked about whether any laws were broken in the IRS affair. His answer merely reflected the fact that he was not a lawyer, but that regardless of whether laws were broken, the behavior was inexcusable. He was not saying that “the law” was irrelevant, but that it wasn’t relevant to the determination that what happened was wrong even if not unlawful.
Finally, Pfeiffer’s remarks about the relevance of Obama’s whereabouts during the Benghazi attack came in the course of Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly asking him where Obama was that night. Wallace seemed obsessed with which particular rooms in the White House the President might have visited. Eventually Pfeiffer responded by bluntly saying “I don’t remember what room the president was in on that night. That’s a largely irrelevant fact.” Which is unarguably true. Wallace was wandering down some weird and delusional path that had no bearing on anything. But Fox spun Pfeiffer’s response to suggest that it meant something broader with regard to Obama’s overall attention to the unfolding crisis.
This is the kind of nuttiness that ensues when liars become increasingly desperate as they see their lies falling flat. They get more and more surreal as they strain to have an effect. And when the effect turns out to be the opposite of what they hoped (i.e. Obama’s approval rising), they keep walking down that dead-end path, accelerating their pace, until it leads to a cliff. In the next few days and weeks we will see if Fox and the GOP are crazy enough to keep walking right over the edge. This should be fun.
And now for something completely different: Shuster Mauls Rubin…