The Associated Press has attempted to “fact check” Dinesh D’Souza’s astonishingly successful documentary, 2016: Obama’s America–and undermines its own criticism by engaging in a blatantly opinionated assault.
D’Souza’s thesis is that President Barack Obama is deeply influenced by the anti-colonial views of his father, Barack H. Obama, Sr. I happen to think that D’Souza’s argument is, at best, a partial explanation of Obama’s views. The term “anti-colonial” is a good first pass at Obama’s foreign policy, which often neglects traditional American allies in favor of rapprochement with hostile regimes. However, Obama’s focus is domestic policy, and his preference for a weakened America on the world stage grows from his desire to see the U.S. adopt the redistributionist policies of other nations. He is focused inward, not outward. And, as the AP’s Beth Fouhy points out that D’Souza’s evidence is “a logical stretch at best,” given that Obama II had little contact with his father.
So far, so good for Fouhy and the AP–but when the “fact check” takes on specific claims in D’Souza’s film, it leaves facts behind and offers nothing but opposing opinions, revealing the true bias behind the AP’s analysis.
Here are Fouhy’s “corrections” to factual claims in 2016: Obama’s America:
Fouhy: D’Souza rightly argues that the national debt has risen to $16 trillion under Obama. But he never mentions the explosion of debt that occurred under Obama’s predecessor, Republican George W. Bush, nor the 2008 global financial crisis that provoked a shock to the U.S. economy.
So? The Obama debts dwarf the “explosion” under George W. Bush, and it was not necessary that the financial crisis be followed by the kind of deficit spending the Obama administration undertook. Obama himself came to office promising a mere $50 billion in stimulus spending; he ended up spending nearly $900 billion. Fouhy’s “correction” here is actually just an argument against D’Souza’s opinion, not the facts he invokes to support it.
Fouhy: D’Souza says Obama is “weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadists” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He does not mention that Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the drone strikes that have killed dozens of other terrorists in the region.
These two facts are not contradictory. In fact, one of the weirdest examples of jihadist sympathy was Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea in a sham Islamic ceremony. The drone strikes, too, are so prevalent in Obama’s policy towards terror partly because he refuses to detain jihadists at Guantanamo Bay, in a self-defeating gesture towards radical sympathies in the Islamic world. Obama has always used his focus on bin Laden as a balance to, and cover for, his willful retreat in the face of the jihadist threat in Iraq and now Afghanistan.
Fouhy: D’Souza wrongly claims that Obama wants to return control of the Falkland Islands from Britain to Argentina. The U.S. refused in April to endorse a final declaration on Argentina’s claim to the islands at the Summit of the Americas, provoking criticism from other Latin American nations.
There is no other way to interpret the Obama administration’s shameful abandonment of our British allies than to conclude that President Obama believes there is merit in the Argentinian claim on the Falklands–a claim last pursued by a fascist, human-rights-abusing dictatorship through unprovoked aggression and war.
Fouhy: D’Souza says Obama has “done nothing” to impede Iran’s nuclear ambitions, despite the severe trade and economic sanctions his administration has imposed on that country to halt its suspected nuclear program. Obama opposes a near-term military strike on Iran, either by the U.S. or Israel, although he says the U.S. will never tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.
Not only has the Obama administration dragged its feet on applying new sanctions to Iran, but it has actively flouted current U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iranian nuclear enrichment in order to find some kind of face-saving grand bargain with the Iranian theocracy. It also missed a golden opportunity to topple the regime by supporting pro-democracy protests in 2009–which could have removed the nuclear threat peacefully.
Fouhy: D’Souza says Obama removed a bust of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from the Oval Office because Churchill represented British colonialism. White House curator William Allman said the bust, which had been on loan, was already scheduled to be returned before Obama took office. Another bust of Churchill is on display in the president’s private residence, the White House says.
This is an amusing error by Fouhy, and without returning to the White House’s embarrassing tangle with Charles Krauthammer on this issue earlier this summer, it suffices to point out that the British offered to extend the loan and the Obama adminsitration declined to accept. Here Fouhy’s own facts need to be checked.
Fouhy and the AP might have had a point if they had simply objected to D’Souza’s overall thesis, which is very much a matter of opinion and speculation. But they simply could not resist the temptation to substitute their opinions for his facts–and have thus undone their own “fact check,” as well as any pretense at objectivity.