What is up with Leon Panetta going on Fox News and feeding them anti-Obama talking points?
The O’Reilly Factor spent not one, not two but three segments with Leon Panetta last night. The interview totaled more than 20 minutes of air time. But if you think it’s because of any real interest in Panetta’s new book or his insights as President Obama's former CIA chief or Secretary of Defense – as opposed to his criticisms of Obama – then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Or maybe Panetta’s new book.
The question is, why was Panetta such a willing partner in Fox’s agenda?
Panetta’s comments could have been scripted by Roger Ailes, himself. Ailes would know better than to have a long-time Democratic insider like Panetta rant and rave about Obama as some kind of America-hating, Muslim-loving, socialist appeaser of our enemies the way Fox News talking heads routinely do. No, Ailes would have cast Panetta as a reluctant critic, one who repeatedly made noises of support for Obama – all the while providing material for Fox News to slit Obama’s throat for years to come.
In Part 1, O’Reilly pressed Panetta to say that Obama committed “a colossal blunder” and not merely “a mistake” by not leaving U.S. troops in Iraq. O’Reilly claimed that it led to the deaths of “tens of thousands” of people.
Pannetta replied, “No question …it was a mistake.”
Now, let’s just assume Panetta has good reasons for coming out with his book and going on a media tour criticizing Obama in the middle of his term (Fox is merely one of many media platforms where Panetta has shot his arrows). But is that any reason to ignore Fox’s self-serving interest?
Instead, Panetta said that Obama supported leaving troops in Iraq but “the real issue” was “how hard did he fight” for it. And when O’Reilly said Obama didn’t fight at all, Panetta never disagreed.
Why didn’t Panetta point out that much of our current ISIS problem can be traced back to the misguided invasion of Iraq in the first place? Which is worse: not negotiating with Iraq forcefully enough when neither Americans nor Iraqis wanted troops there or invading the country under false pretenses and destabilizing the region as Bush did?
Yet, while Panetta gave Fox a big pass on its double standard for examining and critiquing presidents on national security and intelligence, he also played right into their hands on Benghazi.
In response to claims that CIA security contractors were ordered to wait before trying to respond to the attack on the compound in Benghazi, Panetta said he had “no reason” to disbelieve the contractors’ claims. Yet, he did not point out how Fox has used those claims to move the goalpost to suggest the Obama administration prevented forces from ever responding. Even as O’Reilly said the contractors would not release the name of the CIA officer “who wouldn’t order them to help.”
Panetta even allowed O’Reilly to continue with the old “Why didn’t the Obama administration call Benghazi a terrorist attack” attack. Instead of calling out Fox News for harping on such a trivial point – rather than, say, the need to beef up security at our foreign outposts – Panetta played patsy cake:
PANETTA: What I told the president was that there was an attack that was going on in Benghazi and that we were concerned that the consulate there was in trouble…
O’REILLY: Did you use the word “terror attack?”
PANETTA: I used the word “attack,” that there was an attack by terrorists.
O’REILLY: Oh, you said, “Attack by terrorists.”
PANETTA: That’s right.
So O’Reilly played a clip of him badgering Obama in an interview as to whether or not Panetta had used the term “terror attack.” Obama said Panetta told him there was “an attack on our compound,” and that “We don’t know yet who’s doing it.”
“Disingenuous?” O’Reilly asked Panetta.
Panetta could have said that Obama may not have recalled whether or not the specific word “terror” was used and that it really doesn’t matter. But Panetta gave O'Reilly exactly the response he would have hoped for: “We told the president that there is an attack that’s going on, that terrorists are involved in the attack and that as a result of that, we have to respond to it. …There was no question in my mind that it was a terrorist attack.”
The discussion went on and on along these veins, with Panetta sprinkling the “Obama is weak” meme just as Fox would have wanted him to:
- The rest of the world is “getting a mixed message as to whether or not the United States will stand by its word,”
- “When you deal with Putin, you’ve got to deal with him from strength, not weakness… I would have taken some very tough positions with regards to Putin, not just sanctions….”
- "I think this president is smart enough to understand the dangers. The real question is, can he translate that into the kind of action that will help protect this country?”
- "I think deep down (Obama) knows what needs to be done but what he’s got to do is develop the will to fight, to get into the ring in order to make it happen."
This reminds me of Hillary-supporter Ed Rendell praising Fox’s “fairest” coverage of Obama’s ‘08 campaign. And how did Fox reciprocate? By suggesting Clinton faked her concussion and then promoting Rove’s “brain damaged” meme.
So what do you think Panetta is up to here? Leave your thoughts in our comments section.
This constant drumbeat about Obama’s PERCEIVED lack of gung-hoity in using America’s might to put the world to rights is evidence of the widespread failure of Americans to learn from their own history.
OK, say you had bomb, bomb bombed Iran, the country with what, the third largest standing army on Earth. By now, Vietnam would be looking like a little league picnic.
Say you had supplied masses of armaments to the Ukraine. I’d say that by now, one side or the other would be considering just a light sprinkling of ‘tactical’ nuclear lesson-giving.
Say you had gone all Rambo on Assad and giving the freedom fighters all the help they needed. Guess who you would now be finding you had actually eased the way for… that’s right, ISIL aka ISIS aka al Qaeda in Iraq.
Now just imagine if the Cheney/PNAC cabal had not hoodwinked lil’ Bush and the rest of America into the crazy invasion of Iraq they had been planning and plotting for FOR YEARS beforehand. Consider for a moment the import of Donald Rumsfeld demanding ON THE VERY AFTERNOON OF 9/!1/2001 that Clarke and the other intelligence professionals find a link between the as-yet-unknown hijackers and Saddam Hussein.
Yeah, McClellan wasn’t as deep in with regards to operations as Panetta but it still doesn’t change the fact that BOR believed that McClellan was being disloyal and, basically, giving aid and comfort to Bush’s political critics (aka enemies in BOR speak). The same accusations that BOR threw at McClellan about loyalty, giving ammo to enemies, etc. could also be said about Panetta. I just read an article this morning (at the Free Beacon) that called Chris Matthews a hypocrite because he questioned Panetta’s loyalty and the timing of his book (right before the mid-term elections) but he didn’t question McClellan’s loyalty or the fact that his book came out in an election year. I think that BOR is a definite hypocrite and far from “fair & balanced” when it comes to how he handled these 2 men and their books.
True, BOR didn’t suggest that the folks buy Panetta’s book but BOR doesn’t really make it a practice to pimp too many other’s books on his show anyway — except for his own (as his current book about Patton has made its way to the NYTimes best seller’s list). There’s probably a good chance that Panetta’s book will make it there too once the results for books released during the Oct. 7th time period are written up. It’s already at #1 on Amazon’s “Politics/National & International Security” list.
While I do agree that Panetta is definitely in it for himself (there are book profits to be made and his own ass to cover), I still think that there’s something to the idea being tossed around that Panetta may be trying to give an assist to Hillary and her possible Presidential run. Just as he gave her a thumbs up on MSNBC, he did the same in a USA Today interview saying that she would be a “great” president. “One thing about the Clintons is, they want to get it done,” he says, in words that draw an implicit contrast with Obama. “When it comes to being president of the United States, it’s one thing to talk a good game. It’s another thing to deliver, to make things happen.” Panetta is most certainly a Clintonista.
In an interesting discussion I had with a friend yesterday who is an Independent, he puts forth the idea that Panetta might have a good shot at being Hillary’s running mate. My friend’s take is that Independents like him appreciate a guy who isn’t afraid to call out the decisions his boss (in this case, Obama) has made even if they are both of the same political party. He said that (if there’s not a more liberal 3rd party candidate) the Dems are going to vote for Hillary anyway and that having Panetta as a running mate (with his experience and his ability to look like a non-partisan guy who wants things done right even if it means criticizing someone in his own party) would cause Independents like him to strongly consider voting for the Dem ticket. Maybe so but, as he’s 76, perhaps Panetta would settle for some other position of influence in the Hillary admin as payment for his loyalty (IF she runs and wins, of course).
And then there’s this link which I think makes some interesting points about the “elephant in the room”. It also notes that Panetta holds a position at Beacon Global Strategies (which I did not know) that has close Hillary ties.
A conservative journalist’s take on what Panetta is doing with his book…
His miscalculation is that, while he will get a lot of favorable play on Fox because he criticizes the president, it isn’t likely to turn into book sales for him. The Foxies aren’t going to help him that way. Even O’Reilly wouldn’t come out and say, “Go buy this book.”
Stewart was dissappointing, too. Turns out they like to throw brickbats except when it is a game where all of them can get rich if they play along. This is one of those occasions.
Leon Panetta is out for the attention and glory and pocketbook of Leon Panetta, full stop.
I’ve been wondering that myself. Just what is Panetta’s motivation to release this book now? It’s well known that Panetta is close to the Clintons. One can’t help but wonder if his book is a tool that Hillary can use to put distance between her and Obama – you know, to draw a distinction between the 2 with regards to policy in some areas should she decide to run. The other day on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell, when asked about Biden or Hillary as President, he said that both could do the job but that he thought Hillary would be a “very strong President”. His book apparently makes a strong case for CIA/Petraeus being to blame for the talking point that it was a demonstration instead of terrorism in Benghazi which helps to keep some of the blame off Hillary. So, like I said, I can’t help but think that there’s an attempt by Panetta to give Hillary a helping hand.
But to release it now right before the election next month? It could hurt some of the Dem candidates in close red state races I suppose. But Panetta could have very easily released it a couple months from now so the timing is something that I can’t figure out at all. Maybe Panetta and his publishers just decided to take advantage of Obama’s low poll numbers and cash in now considering that the book has so many criticisms of the President and would be of great interest to the Obama haters.
O’REILLY: Now you know that every Bush hater in the country is using you and your book to smash this administration. Now I want to talk to you about that when we come back. Every Bush hater, and you’re playing right into their hands, is using this.
O’REILLY: But it’s your opinion. OK? You’re spinning it negative. But the result of what you did is giving…all America haters and Bush haters, all the ammo they want.
O’REILLY: Right in your book. I think you made a big mistake spinning negative on your opinions as I said in the A block. But you sat down in front of guys that you know are just pure Bush haters to sell your book.
O’REILLY: Surely you know how you’re being used.
O’REILLY: I wouldn’t, because you know, Bush is not a bad man. You know him way better than I know him. He’s not a bad man. You know that.
O’REILLY: I think he made wrong judgments and every president of the United States that’s ever served has made wrong judgments.
O’REILLY: The hate Bush press is using you, using you to humiliate the man and to imply to the world the man is dishonest.
O’REILLY: OK. Now when you then come to the realization that what you write in your book as you see it is being used by people who absolutely want the worst for this country and for the administration, doesn’t that give you pause at all?