Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly last night cornered State Department Deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf over the crisis in Iraq. As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rampages through the country, Kelly wanted to know why the Obama administration had left the Shiite-heavy government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki so exposed.
“Have the gains that we achieved just a couple of years ago slipped away under President Obama?” Kelly asked.
Harf responded, in part: “Well, this is a very different threat that were looking at today than we’ve seen before in Iraq.”
Kelly noted that ISIS had established itself in Fallujah back in January and when President Obama was asked about the force, he referred to it as “J.V.” At the same time, Harf told Kelly that the administration had been monitoring ISIS for “months,” prompting the host to ask a quite logical question: “Then why did President Obama referred them to J.V.?”
“Well, it’s a group that changing,” responded Harf. “The terrorist threat changes, quite frankly, on a week-by-week and months-by-months basis.”
Right smack in the middle of that bowl of malarkey, Kelly interrupted, “Oh Marie, come on. In January they were J.V. And now that we’re in June there is this devastating terror group that’s basically taking over Iraq?”
And so it went, with Kelly pushing Harf repeatedly on whether it was the decision of the Obama White House or the Iraqi government to withdraw U.S. forces from the country in 2011. Harf: “Well, we’ve been very clear that we were not going to leave any troops there without the legal protections that I think most Americans would agree they need to have overseas. So, it is true that the Iraqi government made very clear they did not want our folks there in 2011.”
But! Kelly noted that Obama had told Mitt Romney in a 2012 presidential debate that he didn’t want a large troop presence in Iraq to “tie us down.”
Back and forth they went, over the course of a 12-minute segment. This was Kelly the bulldog on display. Every time Harf attempted to advance the Obama administration’s crafted points, Kelly jumped right on this contradiction or that lame argument.
For the media critics of the world, the highlight came when Kelly sought to inform Harf that her line of questioning was “not a Fox News thing.” She said, “This is the Washington Post — had a scathing opinion piece, report, about how when the president was running for reelection and it was politically convenient for him because Mitt Romney was accusing him of withdrawing the troops too early and he was trying to paint Mitt Romney as more of a warmonger.”
Wonder why Kelly felt so compelled to clarify the non-Fox News dimensions of the issue?