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Michael Brown Does a “Heckuva Job” Suggesting Missouri Tornadoes Are Obama’s Katrina

Reported by Ellen - May 25, 2011 -

Co-authored By Brian

Perhaps despondent over their Republican field of presidential candidates, Fox News grasped at a new straw of attacking President Obama – trying to paint Missouri’s devastating tornadoes as Obama’s Katrina. In a segment FoxNews.com called Should Obama have canceled European trip? Neil Cavuto trotted out Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown to suggest Obama was being politically tone deaf by drinking a pint of Guinness and playing ping pong in Europe while Americans were suffering catastrophic damage in Missouri. But Brown took it a step further by making the preposterous claim that Obama was in Ireland to visit relatives, saying, “It’s not like he’s at a G8 Summit. This is not a diplomatic trip of any sort.” Except that that’s exactly what the trip is about. Obama met with the Prime Minister of Ireland, he was scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister of England and then go to Deauville, France for the G8.” Sadly, Cavuto did not correct the record.

Cavuto opened the segment by announcing that President Obama would visit tornado-struck Missouri on Sunday, then added, “Little consolation to some residents there who MIGHT (his emphasis) take exception to what they saw him doing today – playing table tennis in England the day after, downing a pint of Guinness in Ireland. Now it’s not exactly the stuff to show the ‘Show Me’ state.”

Perhaps even Cavuto knew this was an unfair tack because he also noted, "Presidents can't win for love or money on this stuff."

Brown agreed, "They can't.” But Brown had a new book to promote and perhaps looking to ingratiate himself with conservative readers and Fox bookers, nonetheless took repeated swipes at the Obama administration. “In this situation, they’re almost tone deaf… Your press office should be recognizing that the visuals that Americans are seeing is of this devastation. Don't put a visual of the President up playing ping pong. It's awful."

Cavuto asked if Brown had a problem with the President doing "fun stuff" on his trip.

"I do have a problem with that,” Brown said. “It’s not like he’s at a G8 Summit. This is not a diplomatic trip of any sort. This was just a – he went to Ireland, for God’s sake, to visit some relatives. It’s time to come home.”

At a White House Press Briefing on May 20, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, stated:

This is a very important trip for the President to reaffirm our core alliances in the world, our European allies. When he came into office, as you know, a principal goal was strengthening those alliances and restoring America’s standing. And we traveled quite a bit to Europe in the first year that we were in office and now this is the first multi-stop trip that we’ve taken to Europe in some time, since early in his first year.

I think it’s an opportunity to coordinate and align our approaches on a number of issues. Just about everything that we’re doing in the world we’re collaborating closely with our European allies. It’s also of course an important opportunity to underscore the ties between the United States and Europe that are grounded in interests and values but also large populations that live in the United States that have heritage back in a number of the countries that the President is visiting.

PBS has a detailed run down of the numerous meetings and subjects to be discussed - such as Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the global economy - with various heads of state during Obama's trip.

It may be that Brown was suggesting Obama come home and then go to the G8, or maybe he thought Obama should skip the G8 but whatever Brown meant, what he said was a distortion and Cavuto did not clarify it with the facts.

Of course, what shocked the nation during Katrina – beyond the awful suffering and damage – was the botched response, not just a botched photo op. As Media Matters notes, Missouri officials have repeatedly praised the federal response. And while Obama is away on official business, Bush was on vacation.

Not even Cavuto suggested that anything like the disastrous Katrina response was happening in Missouri. In fact, he never alleged any kind of disaster-relief bungles – and you know he would have if he could have.

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