“The high point of that debate for Romney is when he devastatingly leveled the charge of Obama going around the world on ‘an apology tour,’” columnist Charles Krauthammer asserted on the Fox News Channel following Monday night’s third presidential debate. But what Krauthammer saw as so powerful for Mitt Romney, the mainstream outlets tried to discredit based on the flimsy reasoning that Obama didn’t actually say the word “apologize.”
News media “fact-checkers” just can’t accept the characterization that President Barack Obama ever went on anything like “an apology tour” and they were quick to “correct” Romney for daring to make the charge.
Obama knew he had journalists as allies and so responded to Romney by contending “every fact-checker and every reporter who’s looked at it, Governor, has said this is not true.”
But the Dictionary.com definition of apology is "a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another."
Krauthammer, a contributor to Special Report with Bret Baier, humorously dismissed the journalists’ defense of Obama as “about as weak an answer you can get.” He proceeded to paraphrase Romney’s response in the which the GOP presidential candidate quoted Obama “saying that we ‘dictate’ to other nations and Romney said we do not dictate to other nations, we liberate them.”
Romney’s retort left Obama “utterly speechless,” Krauthammer observed.
ABC and CNN stepped up to speak for the President. Minutes after the Boca Raton debate, ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos queried: “Any glaring misstatements by either candidate?”
Jonathan Karl zeroed in on Romney for claiming “the President went on an apology tour when he became President.” Karl told viewers “we’ve looked at all those speeches in those first foreign trips” and insisted: “The President didn’t apologize for America. He did acknowledge some mistakes that the United States had made, but there’s no way you could really call it ‘an apology tour.’”
CNN outright called the characterization “False,” plastering that on screen next to John Berman who acknowledged “when the President took office, he did travel to several countries talking about American foreign policy.” Berman cited one Obama quote which Romney had recounted, how in France Obama “said America has ‘shown arrogance’ and had ‘been dismissive, even derisive.’”
Yet Berman, who apparently doesn’t understand the concept of a metaphor, refused to acknowledge that constitutes apologizing for America, maintaining it’s false because Obama never specifically uttered “apologize.”
“In none of these speeches,” Berman asserted, “none of them in Europe or the Middle East or here at home – did President Obama use the world apology or say he’s sorry.” So, “our verdict here is it is false to call the President’s speeches ‘an apology tour’ even if he was critical of past U.S. foreign policy. He issued no apologies.”
There’s hardly a shortage, however, of examples of Obama chastising past U.S. foreign policy, so many so that just five months into Obama’s term the Heritage Foundation was able to produce a “Top 10 Apologies” list, starting with the speech in France which Berman quoted.
Among the instances cited by Heritage’s Nile Gardiner and Morgan Lorraine Roach:
- At a Summit of the Americas, Obama regretted how “at times we sought to dictate our terms.” In an op-ed about policy toward the America’s, Obama declared: “Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors.”
- Speaking to the Turkish parliament, Obama rationalized: “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history.”
- Addressing CIA employees about an administration report which castigated the use of enhanced interrogation techniques against terrorist suspects, the President urged: “Don’t be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we’ve made some mistakes.”
- In a speech, Obama denounced the techniques used in the war on terror: “Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us – Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens – fell silent.”
- In that same address at the National Archives, he went into full apology mode over Guantanamo: “There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against Al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law.”
Obama’s got extra ammunition going into the election knowing the press corps will do their best to disarm potent attacks on topics where Obama is vulnerable amongst swing state voters.
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center where he oversees the NewsBusters blog. He’s on Twitter as BrentHBaker.