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Across Several Programs And On Fox Nation, Fox News Distorted Obama’s “Dominant Military Superpower” Remarks To Smear Him As “Apologetic” For American Might

Reported by Ellen - April 15, 2010 -

As Media Matters noted, “Right-wing media misleadingly cropped remarks made by President Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit to suggest Obama is opposed to America remaining "a dominant military superpower." In fact, Obama said that as a "military superpower," the U.S. has an interest in reducing tensions between foreign nations because violent conflict abroad inevitably "ends up costing" the United States "significantly in terms of both blood and treasure." Yet “fair and balanced” Fox News repeatedly aired and published the right-wing slant on Obama’s remarks without offering the full context or offering it only as opinion. Finally, this morning, on Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade put the remarks in context – but also as his opinion and after substitute co-host Eric Bolling attacked Obama’s remark as “crazy.” With video.

In his April 13, 2010 press conference, Obama stated,

“And I remain committed to being a partner with countries around the world, and in particular hot spots around the world, to see if we can reduce those tensions and ultimately resolve those conflicts. And the Middle East would be a prime example. I think that the need for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the Arab states remains as critical as ever.

"It is a very hard thing to do. And I know that even if we are applying all of our political capital to that issue, the Israeli people through their government, and the Palestinian people through the Palestinian Authority, as well as other Arab states, may say to themselves, we are not prepared to resolve this -- these issues -- no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear.

"And the truth is, in some of these conflicts the United States can't impose solutions unless the participants in these conflicts are willing to break out of old patterns of antagonism. I think it was former Secretary of State Jim Baker who said, in the context of Middle East peace, we can't want it more than they do.

"But what we can make sure of is, is that we are constantly present, constantly engaged, and setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts but it's also in the interest of the United States. It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”

Obama was clearly talking about being pulled, “like it or not,” into foreign conflicts that do not directly involve the United States. But the right wing jumped on those comments, took them out of context and used the distortion to paint Obama as somehow opposed to and/or uncomfortable with the United States’ status as a superpower.

"Fair and balanced" Fox Nation posted only a brief, 21-second excerpt that began at "It is a vital national security interest." There was no commentary with the video, only the inflammatory headline in synch with right-wing accusations, "Obama: 'For Better or Worse,' America Is Superpower."

On The O’Reilly Factor last night (4/14/10), Bill O’Reilly said, “Why shouldn’t we like being a superpower?” Even after guests Sally Quinn and Nancy Skinner offered the larger context, O’Reilly insisted, “I think, ladies, he doesn’t like being a superpower… I don’t think President Obama feels comfortable heading the most powerful nation on earth… For one very, very clear reason. He’s a liberal guy. Liberals like the underdog. They often see power as oppressive.” O’Reilly never offered one piece of evidence to support his psychological hypothesis, other than the out-of-context quote.

Not surprisingly, Hannity and guests reiterated the smear and in more inflammatory terms. “I think it shows his underlying goal for the nation,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and that is not to be the world’s superpower. He believes that the world is better if everybody’s basically equal in terms of national power.”

Hannity used that as a launch pad for further attacks, by tying it to his distortions about Obama’s recently revised nuclear arms policy.

“And not defending at all our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel,” Price said – falsely. As Reuters noted, “Under a ten-year agreement signed in 2007, military aid will reach $3.15 billion a year by 2013 and will stay at that level until 2018. Progress towards peace or not.”

Not that Hannity pointed out the falsehood. “It’s astonishing!” he said by way of agreement. His audience clapped enthusiastically in response.

On Fox & Friends this morning, Brian Kilmeade said, “Some were surprised by how (Obama) feels about (being a superpower)” by way of introduction to the clip.

“Could he be any more apologetic? It’s crazy,” substitute co-host Eric Bolling said.

Fortunately, Kilmeade countered, “I think, actually, (Obama) was trying to say, ‘Whether you like it or not, we have a responsibility as a superpower.’ … I actually feel as though he didn’t say what he really meant to say." But again, that was couched as Kilmeade's opinion, not an objective fact.

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