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Fox News and the Politics of Hurricane Obama

| November 4, 2012

On Fox News, that’s the American consulate in Benghazi. (EPA)

Watching CNN coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath I felt at times as if I was immersed in one of those Hollywood disaster movies showing Manhattan flattened or submerged. Except that it was all real, affecting millions of people all over the Northeast as no disaster has in memory.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive When I’d turn on Fox News, it was as if I was in a different country. The only subject day after day, once Sandy had moved four inches inland, was Benghazi and Libya and President Obama’s alleged cover-up, as if Sandy’s wreckage and the dozens of deaths it left behind were a sideshow.

You could hear the word Benghazi on Fox with the same frequency that you could hear the names Bill Ayres or Jeremiah Wright four years ago, when Fox was trying to smear Obama by association. Naturally, we didn’t hear those two names mentioned once after Obama was elected. Fox had tried to do what it does best: invent a diversion, a bogus scandal in hopes of scoring just enough points to sway the election. But the diversion was hollow at its core, a Swiftboating that sank before it could shove off the dock.

Just as the Benghazi diversion is today. The problem for its choreographers of scandal is that the Benghazi attack is not the colossal failure of policy that Fox and talk radio’s lineup of equally level-headed, rational, compassionate and entirely non-partisan talking heads are making it out to be.

There’s no need to minimize the Benghazi fiasco. It was a terrorist attack on an American target in what used to be the single most hostile country to the United States for much of the last 40 years. The response may not have been handled as well as it could have. But it was likely more level-headed than any Delta Force hysterics that wish away whirls of angry Arabs with a few trigger-happy soldiers and a rain of cruise missiles. The Chuck Norris era of American foreign policy is over.

David Ignatius, a liberal Washington Post columnist, raised the toughest questions about Benghazi. But after the CIA issued a detailed timeline of the attack, his conclusion summed it up this way: “While there were multiple errors that led to the final tragedy, there’s no evidence that the White House or CIA leadership deliberately delayed or impeded rescue efforts.” The CIA, let’s not forget, is led by David Petraeus, George W. Bush’s commander of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan before Obama appointed him CIA director. If something went wrong in Benghazi, it’s mostly on Petraeus’s head. That should be no surprise: Petraeus’s legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan is mostly ash and memories of bluster wrapped in words like “surge” and “counterinsurgency” that left insurgents laughing and biding their time. They’re still laughing in Benghazi.

But let’s not exaggerate Benghazi, either. We have some history to go by. This was nothing like the entirely preventable terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983 that killed 63 people and wiped out America’s CIA operations in the region for years to come. (An attack Ignatius covered for the Wall Street Journal and memorably retold in Agents of Innocence, his novelization of the limits of intelligence against militant Islamist terrorists). Or the equally preventable attack just months later that killed the 251 Marines in Beirut, as they slept, even though the Reagan administration had been amply warned, not least by the attack on the embassy, that the neighborhood had become a tad unsafe for a useless mission. And what did Ronald Reagan get for those twin massacres of Americans on his watch? He got reelected with acclamation.

If Obama is re-elected, it won’t be by acclamation. He’s not as good a teller of fairy tales as Ronald Reagan was, and nowhere near the slithering chameleon Mitt Romney is. But Benghazi will join Bill Ayres and Jeremiah Wright in Fox’s morgue of duds, while Fox itself returns to its regular programming. That happens to be a replay of the same political disaster movie it’s been playing over and over for the past five years, ever since Hurricane Obama appeared on the scene.

That’s coverage I’ll be happy to see on Fox over the next four years, considering the truly cataclysmic alternative.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him on Twitter.

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36 Responses for “Fox News and the Politics of Hurricane Obama”

  1. Will says:

    Well said, Pierre.

  2. Samuel Smith says:

    People that watch fox news for “news” are the same ones that forward emails that have been forwarded to them about that lying kenyan or birth certificate this or socialist that. They aren’t relevant, fox isn’t relevant, and it’ll be even less relevant as rupert murdoch’s empire slowly eats itself from within due to the gigantic scandal over in the UK about phone tapping and political bribery.

    Seriously. The best thing you can do right now when someone mentions fox news with a straight face is to nod, think to yourself ‘nutcase’, and then step back out of swinging distance when that dirty black socialist kenyan with the fake birth certificate that got the military to send a hurricane to distract people from benghazi gets back into office.

    • jack stewart says:

      Yea Samuel…anybody that watches Fox news is a nutcase……Typical response from a democrat..any time somebody dosnt agree with you or has a different opinion ..they are called nutcases. Thanks…. you proved to me how closed minded most democrats really are. You have made my day!

      • The Truth says:

        You do realize that Fox News pounces on anyone who disagrees with their rhetoric, right?

        • Magnolia says:

          @ the truth, you will never hear a Fox news anchor say they are “glad that hurricane Sandy happened”, a la Chris Matthews at msnbc.

          People watch Fox news because they get sick of the hate speech on the other networks. You might try it sometime.

          Fox news is the #1 watched network in the US.

          Stevie, show me the proof that “most of the people in this community hate Rush”. Seriously. Is that how he became the #1 radio show in the nation, because we hate him? Stop speaking for the rest of us. Your views are your views and you are certainly entitled to them.

          But call them what they are: YOUR views.

          Flaglerlive, revenge is killing this nation and it will succeed. I think we are all sick of the moralists and bullies on both sides, including censored news. This country relied on an honest news media to keep us free. That is gone now. Those who have their agendas and used them have won, but the price will bankrupt this nation.

          It seems that most of the population have decided that they’d rather just collect benefits than participate in society. The welfare state has won. Being American now means take the government for everything you can. No nation will survive that way. Revenge is sucking the life blood out of this country. We cannot even be civil to one another anymore. We are terminal.

          • Dorothea says:


            Chris Matthews has repeatedly apologized for his insensitive remarks. American citizens want, among other things, the right to vote and the benefits that we earned. Your comment is as insensitive and vitriolic as anything that Chris Matthews said. Hypocrisy is calling for us to be civil to one another, while insulting 51% of the population that voted for President Obama.

          • The Truth says:

            Your correct, instead:

            1. Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch demands that Gov. Chris Christie “reaffirms” his support for Romney or “takes responsibility for the state of the country”. Fair and balanced!

            2. Fox and Friends anchor claims that Obama gets positive press for “stepping over a couple of 2 x 4’s”. Fair and balanced!

            3. Fox News claims ‘bias alert’ on their website and loves to point out other networks ‘liberal bias’ yet Fox News is known as the most biased network out there. Fair and balanced!

            4. Fox News supports a man who tries to extort our President at a time where a natural disaster hits our country. Fair and balanced!

            5. Fox News viewers have been polled by several non-partisan groups as the most uninformed in the country. Fair and balanced!

            Shall I go on?

      • Samuel Smith says:

        I’m not a democrat, I just have a well-developed capacity for reasoning and a good BS filter.

      • Bill Schr says:

        I cannot comment on Fox News content as every time I try to watch Fox News my BS filter and Commode diodes fill up.

  3. The Truth says:

    It’s scary that so many watch Fox News and actually believe what they’re hearing. It’s not about being Republican or Democrat, voting for Romney or voting for Obama. As an American, you have the right to vote for who you believe is the best for our country.

    What I do have a problem with is a news organization who constantly spews incorrect information to benefit their party yet claim they are “fair and balanced”. Fox News is so far from fair and balanced it’s laughable. Yet somehow, their viewers watch it religiously and claim they offer the most balanced news. I know many people who watch it and it’s very difficult to get into any type of political conversation with them. They have nothing but incorrect information, no facts and just propaganda that Fox News spits out left and right.

    Again, it’s not about who you support in the upcoming election – it’s about getting the CORRECT news from a reliable news source.

    • Rose says:

      You people haven’t got a clue. It’s MSNBC that is totally out of touch with reality

      • The Truth says:

        Both Fox News and MSNBC are out there, but Fox News exceeds all. They will spin anything they can into a “story” to try and keep Obama out of office for a second term. It’s laughable and quite pathetic. What’s even more pathetic is that so many people religiously watch this garbage and believe it.

        • Truth??? says:

          Fox is horrible, yes, but it’s not even close to MSNBC, that is a ridiculous thing to say.

          • Becky says:

            MSNBC has been so transparent in their partisanship, and criminal in their blatant race baiting. I saw a great cartoon. It recommended that we put shock dog collars on the media and politicians and everytime they knowingly mislead, manipulate or lie, they get shocked. The people who hate Fox don’t like competition. Please do an honest story on Cable News/ MSM on true and false stories and compare them side by side. No manipulations of facts.

  4. Anon says:

    Hurricane Sandy was a liberal plot designed to knock the man masquerading as a Presidential challenger off of his road to victory.

  5. Delta says:

    Seven hours they watched from the WH situation room,and never lifted
    a finger to help save their lives.The power of life and death was in
    obama’s hands. He made his choice,and so have you apparently.
    Be smug and witty all you want…no matter how you dress it
    it is wrong. Obama chose not to secure the safety of our US
    ambassador and other Americans in Libya. The WH knew terrorist
    groups were in the area long before the attack also.
    Why are you acting like this..Truth speaks for it’s self,it needs no politics to defend it.

  6. ken says:

    Mr. Tristam,

    You have misreported the facts regarding media coverage of both Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi terrorist attack. Both tragic events for our country. For you to mention that you felt you were in a different country based on Fox news coverage of Benghazi, you fail to take notice that if and individual only watched the “mainstream media” coverage you would never know Benghazi happened!

    I don’t fault you for your views, but not to report facts equally is a complete misreprestation of your postings. The mainstream media coverage of Benghazi has been nothing short of incompetence. Many democrats feel the same way, I encourage you to read Patrick Caddell, a Democratic pollster himself has expressed disgust over this “one-sided” coverage.

    I watch FOX, CNN, and MSNBC. FOX news has nothing to be ashamed of with regards to the coverage of Hurricane Sandy. Have you not watch; Bret Baier, Megan Kelly, Shepard Smith and Gerald Rivera coverage of the hardships people in the Northeast are suffering? What shows on FOX are you watching and for how long?

    I do applaud your acknowledgement that the attack on Benghazi was a terrorist attack Unlike, President Obama who waited over a week to refer to this event as a terrorist attack (please do not tell me that he called this a terrorist attack in the Rose Garden). The bottom line is this, our current President handled the Benghazi event very poorly to say the least. Mr. Tristam, had this been a Republican President in office do you think mainstream media coverage would be the same?

    Mr. Tristan, you accurately cite the CIA detailed timeline for the terrorist attack, but the fact remains your feeling of over zealous coverage by FOX should be countered by the lack of coverage by “mainstream media”.

  7. Well uh huh says:

    Here’s some perspective – under the watchful eyes of George W. Bush, 11 U.S. Embassies were attacked resulting in 53 deaths and 90 injuries. And never mind that Bush and Cheney lied about weapons of mass destruction and then led the call to war with Iraq. What happened at Benghazi is tragic and nobody wants to reduce its significance. Lives were lost. We mourn, we learn, we get back up and emerge stronger. Tho Faux News is simply a propaganda mouthpiece for the Murdoch Machine. It’s an infomercial for the GOP. Look, if it acts like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…then it’s probably a Murduck. Americans deserve better. Faux News is not unlike a private club newsletter. Its version of reality suits its audience perfectly… unfortunately for the rest of us, we have to stand by as revisionist history unfolds and cult-like followers drink the GOP/Tea party cool-aid. Sheesh. Sign the petition that’s going around the web to pull the plug on Murdoch’s Masquerade Party. Also, stop listening to the fake America’s Morning News! Now, Americans shouldn’t care about what Fox News says (1st Amendment)… Americans should care that they call it News! It’s Not! What serious news person would ever repeatedly call a POTUS “the anointed one”? What crap is that? Look at the opposing media shows on MSNBC. They do not call their brand news. Yes, there’s CNN, but is it so far from center? Really? And while America’s at it….regarding Beck. Limbaugh. Savage. Levin. Pull all their plugs (iow, don’t listen to them). Their unpatriotic, divisive vitriol hammers at the very heart of what America needs right now….unity, strength, forgiveness, neighborly respect, charity, pride and cooperation. Maybe with more of that we could generate more jobs. We ALL represent a thread in the fabric we call America. These bums would have you believe otherwise, and that’s why we all need to meet in the middle and leave the lunatic fringe to unravel under its own demise. Quack. Quack.

  8. DWFerg says:

    “The response may not have been handled as well as it could have.”—Understatement ?—How about the Susan Rice narrative on 5 of the Sunday talk shows?– Planned or sheer stupidity- You tell me !-How about the “Rights ” of the Jailed alleged perpetrator, YOU-Tube film maker who “caused” the Terrorist attack ! Does he belong in jail til After the Election–How do I know this Stuff ?– Maybe Faux News as some call it—I call it the Facts–not what you get watching NBC, MSNBC, CBS, and ABC with General George Steph… Please Mr. Tristam, , I thought you were a reporter, / Journalist— Your stuff here is no better than the Huffington / Puffington Post You do Not have to like Romney—Please accept the FACT that your guy has FAILED to deliver and He will not be given a second term— You can(wagert) put the website FlaglerLive on it– Classic Hedging technique—Business people use it everyday- Bet against what they want to have happen, as Insurance– I highly recommend it in this case- Bet romney at least you will have some money to pay the bills even if your guy goes back to CHEECAGO

  9. Stevie says:

    Rome burns and this topic takes the front page. The first priority of all media outlets is to create controversy. Just make objective comparisons between them.

    Libya = Wag the dog??? How would you know different? No news outlet is really doing their job on the story.

  10. 2013realhopeandchange says:

    I sense great fear that the left may lose tomorrow. Praying hard they are right.

  11. Stevie says:

    I know most of the people in this a community hate Rush, but listen to this clip of Clinton speaking and ask yourself, are the Obama supporters really complaining to him? Is Rush getting this right? Is there any way this video could have been taken out of context? I don’t see how, but that’s what I am trying to understand.

    Now you take a story like Benghazi. Fox news is running the heck out of that story and the story could potentially hurt the guy the liberals and most news outlets cheer for. Is it possible this site knows the story is poison and the only defense is to discredit the news outlet so the coverage become illegitimate? Is it also possible that many of the comments on this site are from the same person? Just to make controversy?

    Wouldn’t it be better for the country for all the news outlets to dig into this story and take the legs out from under FOX news by covering the news BETTER????? and actually exposing FOX for who they are in REAL TERMS????

    • The Truth says:

      Anyone who takes Rush Limbaugh seriously is not even worth a second of anyone’s time. Rush Limbaugh is a pathetic human being.

      Jenny H, That’s the difference between you and I. I am not blaming Pres. Bush for 9/11. I realize that it was a terrorist attack on our nation that while we had clues we had no idea what was coming.

      Yet, you clearly don’t have a problem Fox News constantly attacking our President regarding Benghazi.

  12. Ken Dodge says:

    Just following the model of not letting a good crisis go to waste.

  13. Dorothea says:

    The Republican talking heads have received their orders this morning. We are being inundated with Benghazi news. Senator McCann even got into it, wanting yet another investigation. Signs of Republican desperation are everywhere when even the usually moderate Republican talking head, Joe Scarborough, repeated Benghazi, Benghazi maybe two dozen times. Even he is marching to the beat of his Republican masters.

    Yesterday the tea party mayor of Miami-Dade shut the doors on 500 early voters standing on line at 5 pm. Likewise other south Florida early voters were shut out in other counties. I am concerned with the usual Republican dirty tricks and am apprehensive of what will follow on election day.

    Mr. Tristam, you have written an excellent editorial.

  14. farmer says:

    What about the vote FOR REVENGE COMMENT? Doesn’t sound like a nice president. And the fact that most of the Fox news shows are rated way past the others.

  15. Come on says:

    Calling four dead Americans a distraction is going pretty low to carry water for this president. And be careful what you wish for with Sandy coverage, he’s bungling that as well.

  16. Pierre Tristam says:

    Your literacy skills may need a check-up at the nearest Jiffy Lube if you think I carry water for this president, or anyone else I might write about. But since the piece has let loose the anonymous Fox-trotters, it may be worth restating its points, even though the CIA has gone blue in the face trying to ridicule the notion of a cover-up (then again, anything the CIA says is by definition a verbal hall of mirrors): The Benghazi coverage was worse than a distraction. It was bloody expediency: a news network making political fodder of four deaths it wouldn’t otherwise give a flying flip about, anymore than it’s given a flying flip about the 30 Americans who’ve been killed in Afghanistan since the Benghazi attack—or for that matter the 2,146 who’ve been killed there for absolutely no purpose whatsoever. And that’s just half the waste of the Iraqi carnage. Obama’s idiotic Afghan “surge” that merely extended the killings and his murderous drone campaign in Afghanistan are far more scandalous policy decisions—all in the open: no cover-up necessary—than anything he did or did not do in Benghazi. But he got a pass on that. Anyway, the same network (and its legions of self-deluding groupies) that gave Bush a pass for his Katrina-like stupor in the weeks ahead of the mass killings of 9/11, then cheerlead the bloodletting of thousands more through the Bush years’ two wars, is now pretending to decry the killing of a couple of CIA and security operatives, and one ambassador, and trotting out their parents like mercenary hacks warmed over from Swiftboat stagecraft. So it goes in the alternate universe of bullies, slanderers and fabulists who think every day is Halloween, when they get to pose as moralists. Excuse me if I don’t bite. My dentures aren’t that fancy. Of course voting is absolutely the best revenge—revenge for the lies and hypocrisies of a Romney smear-and-pivot machine that made Bush look like a Nixonian amateur in comparison. But every nation has its Ebolas. Fox is ours, and lucky for it there are enough vaccine deniers to keep its contagions in business.

  17. "My Daily Rant" says:

    Theres a good reason FOX NEWS is the MOST WATCHED news station.Four Americans killed on our embassy property and obama does nothing.I think the weakest of our Presidents like Carter,and a screw up like Clinton would have reacted differently.As for Sandy just a good photo op for Obama,yes he showed up for pictures left then nothing.Now look at some other news stations like CNN, Candy Crowley out right LIED during Presidental debate.MSNBC well they seem to fire a so called news caster every month,They dont report the news they give their opinion,I for one dont really care about the opinion of a Lesbian,a guy who cheated on his poor wife,an Immergrant telling us about how bad our country is, it makes me sick.Well were stuck with this useless President for 4 more lets see what kind of damage he will do this time, and maybe he will let George B

  18. Lonewolf says:

    Oh come on we all know it should be called “Republican News”

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