Think Progress busted Meet the Press host David Gregory today, as he “twice asserted that, in May, President Obama declared that “al Qaeda has been defeated.” But apparently, President Obama never said that. As Think Progress points out, Gregory used this false assertion as a premise for laying the Libya attacks on Obama, claiming Obama wasn’t paying attention.
Watch here via Think Progress:
Transcript from TP:
GREGORY: The President has said as recently as May of this year that al Qaeda has not had a chance to rebuild, that al Qaeda has been defeated. There is an election on, as we’ve been talking about, and the President’s challenger said plain and simple, the President failed to level with the American people and call this a terrorist attack, because you had to be concerned about another terrorist attack from al Qaeda in the Middle East after the President said that al Qaeda had been defeated.
Think Progress’ Judd Legum corrected the record, noting that in a televised address from Bagram Air Base on the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, Obama specifically warned us that “difficult days” and “enormous sacrifices” yet to come. Obama:
And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set — to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild — is now within our reach. Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over.
The problems with this are manifold, not the least of which is Gregory’s failure to address his inaccuracy. Raw Story pointed out “Gregory did not reference the question on his Twitter account or his post-show recap on NBC News’ website.”
There is also the issue of the desperate hypocrisy of the underlying argument from the President’s opponents in calling the attacks a terrorist attack.
It should come as no surprise that just a few days ago, Paul Ryan was making this argument, saying that Obama’s foreign policy was “blowing up in our faces”. Juan Cole made a definitive argument against Paul Ryan’s attacks on Obama’s alleged foreign policy disasters being based on the violence against our consulates:
By the way, does Ryan always consider attacks on US embassies a sign that an administration’s foreign policy is blowing up in our faces? For instance, if if the US embassy in Athens, Greece, was attacked in 2007,, would that have been an indictment of George W. Bush’s foreign policy? What about if the US embassy in Serbia was burned down early in 2008? If the US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, were attacked in September 2008? If the US consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, was attacked in 2004? What if thousands of anti-American Iraqis were regularly demonstrating and even shelling the Green Zone in Baghdad where the US embassy is, in 2008? Did all that mean that Bush’s foreign policy, the most recent foreign policy outing of the Republican Party, blew up in our faces, according to Ryan?
Back then, democracy was “messy”. Now it’s a sign of failure.
There was a time not so long ago when Republicans were warned by their own side that their obstructionism on Libya was “emboldening our enemies”. In June of 2011, Republicans voted for the first time since 1999 to deny a president’s authority to carry out a military operation. That was Libya. They also played around with denying funding for the Libya mission.
Conservative policy makers wrote to the House Republicans, “For the United States and NATO to be defeated by Muammar al-Qaddafi would suggest that American leadership and resolution were now gravely in doubt–a conclusion that would undermine American influence and embolden our nation’s enemies.”
This is never brought up. Naturally, Republicans were dismayed when Obama got yet another dictator.
The Republican thinking goes like this: They obstruct Obama in the Libya mission, even in the face of their own policy makers. Now, after democracy is making its fragile birth, they claim that somehow if only more had been done, the unfortunate uprising could have been stopped in advance.
Sadly for logic, you won’t hear this argument about the uprisings in Iraq and Afghanistan as we turned/are turning power over. No one likes it, but everyone who is paying attention expects it; with change comes upheaval and with power vacuums come attempted takeovers.
It’s hard to know how Romney, Ryan and the Republicans see Libya as a failure. Both the Libyan government and tens of thousands of people from Benghazi allied with America, taking to the streets to protest the attacks, holding signs honoring slain Ambassador Chris Stevens. We suffered a terrible tragedy with the death of four Americans. But our long term relations with Libya look good. This is a consequence of Obama’s foreign policy, which is much more popular here and abroad than Republicans’.
As Republicans noted again and again when Bush was in office, democracy is messy. If they were expecting Libya’s transition to be smooth, they haven’t been paying attention. Now they want to blame Obama because democracy is messy. It’s not quite as messy as invading the wrong country, now is it.
Meet the Press should correct David Gregory on the record next Sunday. Otherwise, they risk their credibility, which is already skating on thin ice with Gregory having headlined for a major Republican advocacy group. NBC said Gregory wasn’t paid, but they failed to address the matter of his travel, accommodation, meals, swag, etc.
Undisclosed advocacy on any level does not impart trust, and David Gregory knows this. David Gregory is hardly alone in advancing an unchecked argument that is a copy of Paul Ryan’s, but he misquoted the President to achieve it today.
Perhaps it’s time for Meet the Press to disclose Gregory’s bias on each show, if they’re not going to insist on accuracy.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.