Steve Doocy teamed up with Daily Caller’s Vince Coglianese this morning to dig up one of then-State Senator Barack Obama’s 1999 votes on gun violence and held it up as “proof” that Obama is more interested in cracking down on guns than gun violence. Even worse, the actual digging was done by Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate opponent. In other words, from GOP oppo research to Fox News airwaves.
Doocy began the Fox & Friends segment by saying that President Obama “sounds pretty emphatic” about curbing gun violence but “when he had the chance to be a part of legislation to crack down on school shooters while he was an Illinois State Senator – what did he do? He voted present.” Doocy deliberately sneered and sad trombone music underscored the "fail" meme.
Coglianese told us that in 1999, after the Columbine massacre, Illinois had a bill to try juveniles who commit school shootings as adults. Although the Illinois’ state senate passed it by a vote of 52-1, Obama was one of five who voted “present.”
Doocy prodded for more. “I see that the Daily Caller, you tracked down a long record of Obama voting against tough-on-crime legislation.”
Well, not exactly – unless your idea of “tracking down” means dusting off the work of an old Obama political foe and looking for ways to use it now. Coglianese said that he and a Daily Caller colleague “went to Chicago – and this was in the midst of the election – and picked up all this opposition research prepared by Jack Ryan, who was one-time Obama’s Republican Senate opponent.”
Somehow, both Doocy and Coglianese forgot to mention that Ryan might not be the most credible of sources to Fox News family values viewers, having dropped out of his U.S. senate campaign after divorce papers revealed his actress wife accused him of taking her to sex clubs.
Even worse, Doocy ignored how Coglianese revealed he had unquestioningly taken on Ryan's slant as his own.
COGLIANESE: (Ryan) found all this information and the way that he framed it - and I think it’s probably right – is that Obama was always very soft on crime but very tough on guns. Every time Obama had a crime vote to take when he was in the Illinois state senate, he always voted present… for two reasons: One, he said that crime, criminal law disproportionately affected African Americans. He saw a racial component there.”
… And additionally, he said that I don’t want to clog the court system with all these cases. Well, what do you want to clog the court system with? And we thought that given his rhetoric on guns lately that it would be interesting to bring up this ’99 vote where he said, “You know what? I don’t want to give tougher prosecution to children who shoot at schools.”
Doocy murmured, “Sure,” approvingly as Coglianese spoke.
But as Media Matters pointed out, this attempt to paint President Obama as a hypocrite on gun laws was either disingenuous or half-baked (or both). Obama’s reasons for voting present in 1999 were his opposition to automatically transferring juveniles into the adult system and none of Obama’s current proposals call for trying juveniles as adults.
Fox must be getting pretty desperate for dirt to throw at Obama's gun proposals if they’re stooping to this.