You can always count on Fox News for fair and balanced coverage on the most sensitive and complicated issues, which is why when Islamic State released a video of the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff on Tuesday the network immediately blamed President Obama.
Media Matters brings us this delightful clip from the Sept. 2 edition of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, in which Fox News analyst K.T. McFarland accuses the president of negligence and cowardice that led directly to Sotloff's death:
GRETCHEN CARLSON: A sad day for America, right?
K.T. McFARLAND: You bet. And I'm not sure it's a day that had to happen. You know, the president has stuck his head in the sand. We now have evidence that he's known about the threat that was mounting, coming, the ability of ISIS to take large areas, be well-funded, be well-armed, and have this jihadist agenda of killing, murdering, raping, crucifying, beheading anybody who gets in their way. Americans, Christians, religious minorities, even other Muslims. And the president stuck his head in the sand, and now we've seen two Americans have lost their heads. And this is not where it's going to be over, Gretchen. That's what's so upsetting.
News of Sotloff's death broke just a few hours ago, and Fox News is happy to help make sure it's the president's fault for not taking a more aggressive policy against ISIS. Unfortunately, this is a bald-faced lie: the video clearly shows a militant announcing that Sotloff is being executed in retaliation for the small-scale U.S. bombing campaign hitting northern Iraq. Moreover, the executioner this time was apparently the same man who killed James Foley - and this time he ominously intoned that "I'm back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State."
Fox should really hire some analysts who know what the hell they're talking about, because this is a classic terrorist strategy known as provocation, and it's the same strategy that was used on Sept. 11, 2001 to goad the U.S. into two pointless wars in the Middle East. The proper response to provocation, according to counter-terrorism experts Andrew Kydd and Barbara Walter, is "a discriminating strategy that inflicts as little collateral damage as possible" - a lot like the Obama administration's bombings in northern Iraq. It's also the opposite of the screaming, blood-thirsty nonsense coming out of McFarland. For example, you could refer to her tortured observations that thanks to ISIS, "The Gates of Hades are open and the Hounds of Hell let loose" - her recommendations included arming every secular Arab state to the teeth, building a border wall to keep the Mexican ISIS away, and getting Obama off the golf course. She also chides the president for not making more grand Reagan-esque speeches that will leave ISIS "quaking in their sandals." Seriously.
This is the foreign policy genius who is telling us two men died because the president "stuck his head in the sand": a deluded reactionary who thinks Syria and Obama's golfing have something to do with each other. Pair her up with a chest-thumping troglodyte, a spray-tanned racist billionaire, and a bright woman who deserves to be on a better network, and you'll have a strategic team fit for a president like Herman Cain or Joe the Plumber.
Hawks in Congress like John McCain and Lindsay Graham will be eager for another tragic death to pin on a hapless Syria policy and call for the U.S. to begin getting more deeply involved in Iraq. But we've proven time and again that American guns, bombs and tanks can't piece a broken Iraq together again - it will just pointlessly put more and more Americans in harm's way. And I'm willing to bet that even if Obama did exactly what McFarland wanted, she'd blame him when it went terribly wrong.