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On French Massacre, Fox News Stays in Character
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The terrorist massacre in Paris was a fundamental assault on freedom of expression. Everyone who thinks freely, writes freely, draws freely, and snarks freely knows what it was about.
But, alas, our friends at Fox News have their own special take on the matter.
Their message, distilled to its essence:
This kind of terrorism happens because Obama. This kind of terrorism happens because De Blasio. This kind of terrorism happens because Hillary.
I am not kidding. The Fox apparatchiks were in high dudgeon on Wednesday - demonstrating, yet again, that even the most hideous tragedies are mere grist for their ideological grinder. I say this not in anger, but in exasperation: Even now, can’t these people just give it a rest?
Fox contributor Richard Grenell, referring to the Paris killers, tweeted: “Remember, Hillary wants you to empathize with these people.” (Good luck trying to find a single instance when Hillary ever said that we should “empathize” with terrorists who kill western civilians.) Fox military analyst Tom McInerney, while noting that some Paris cops don’t carry guns, predicted that “communist mayor” Bill de Blasio might make it harder for New York City cops to carry guns. Fox host Eric Bolling said de Blasio is “pointing fingers at the cops, taking tools out of their hands, for whatever, for whomever they want to stop and frisk, listen in to. It’s very dangerous in light of what’s going on around the world.”
But one of the Foxblondes took the prize. This, yesterday, from Gretchen Carlson:
“It is what it is. It, meaning terrorism. Terrorism is what it is. So why does the administration continue to have such a problem telling the American people and the rest of the world just that? Is that a disservice to all of us? In some way giving us a false sense of security? That since our own leaders don’t see any of these attacks as terrorism right away, neither should we?”
It’s the Benghazi playbook all over again, the Fox claim that Team Obama refuses to utter the word terrorism and thus sends a message of weakness to terrorists. Why the Foxblonde felt compelled to dredge up that meme is a total mystery...because, earlier in the day, Team Obama had already uttered the T-word. Repeatedly.
This statement, from Obama himself: “France is America’s oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world....France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice.”
And this, from Secretary of State John Kerry: “The murderers dared proclaim, ‘Charlie Hebdo is dead.’ But make no mistake: They are wrong. The freedom of expression that it represented is not able to be killed by this kind of act of terror.”
But for Fox News, sadly, factual reality is too much of a heavy lift. If only it had the professional grace to provide clear-headed perspective to its credulous viewers. If only it had the journalistic chops to point out these obvious facts:
The murderous attack in Paris, engineered by Islamic extremists bent on enforcing their beliefs via terror, is eerily similar to the murderous attack in Amsterdam, on Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. (That occurred in 2004, when George W. Bush was president. I don’t recall Fox News blaming van Gogh’s murder on Bush weakness.) Extremists, wielding death threats, sent author Salman Rushdie into hiding in 1988; they even killed Rushdie’s Japanese translator. And the supreme leader of Iran called for Rushdie’s assassination in 1989. (But in all the years since, I don’t recall Fox News blaming that cult of violence on Reagan or senior Bush weakness.)
Point is, this extremist war against freedom of expression has been waged for decades - irrespective of who’s in the White House. If only the Foxheads would take this tragic opportunity to rise above petty partisanship and behave, just this once, like responsible journalists. After what happened in Paris, what we need most now is freedom of expression at its best.

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia ( and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Philadelphia. Email him at