CNN's Soledad O'Brien went so far to defend President Obama's diplomacy that she argued GOP criticisms of his "apology tour" were null simply because the speeches didn't include the words "apology" or "I'm sorry."
"Never once in that speech, as you know, which I have the speech right here. So that was back – he never once used the word apology. He never once said I'm sorry," a snarky O'Brien talked down to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).
"Any common sense interpretation of those speeches, the President is apologizing for the American position," King responded to the liberal CNN anchor. "If I go over and say that the U.S. has violated its principles, that the United States has not shown respect for Islam, that's an apology."
O'Brien was not convinced and noted that "plenty of people are interpreting it as a nuanced approach to diplomacy".
A transcript of the segment, which aired on Starting Point on September 17 at 8:07 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Let me play a little bit of what you said on Friday. You talked about the President going on an apology tour. I want to play a little chunk of that.
KING: President Obama's policies in summer of 2009, when he took his apology tour, I believe have not helped the United States. They have weakened our position in the Middle East. They have provided a – sent a very mixed message, a confusing message. You combine that with the way he treats Netanyahu and Israel, and the pulling troops out of Iraq without getting a status of forces agreement, the apologies. You put it all together and I think that what we saw this week is in many ways a logical result of all that.
(End Video Clip)
O'BRIEN: So let's talk about that last line. What we saw this week is in many ways a logical result of all that. Are you saying that the President is responsible, and his policies responsible for the death of the American ambassador to Libya?
KING: I'm saying the President's policies have sent a confused message. For instance, take Egypt. Here is a country getting $1.6 billion in aid, annually, from the United States. And yet President Morsi for the first day, the entire day of our embassy being under attack, did virtually nothing to protect us and was actually putting out statements in Arabic where he was sympathizing with the demonstrators and those attacking the American embassy.
What it's done is it's created a climate, it's created an attitude in the Middle East where our allies don't trust us, where those who are undecided are starting to hedge their bets and turn against us. For instance in Iraq, the President talks about how he pulled our troops out of Iraq. Well the fact is he was given a glide path in Iraq. He pulled the troops out without getting a status of forces agreement, without leaving any American troops behind. Now Iran is emerging as a major power in that region where if we had our troops there that would not happen. Same in Afghanistan by –
O'BRIEN: But you've been talking about an apology tour. And as you know that matches the framing of other people. Donald Rumsfeld says he's made a practice of trying to apologize for America, he's talking about the President. Mitt Romney has said I will not and never apologize for America. I don't apologize for America. Tim Pawlenty back in February was saying, Mr. President, stop apologizing for con – where do you see an apology? You called it an apology tour. You said the apologies. What apologies are you specifically talking about?
KING: I would say when he was in Cairo in 2009, when he was basically apologizing for American policies, saying that American policies sometimes have gone too far to how we have not lived up to our ideals –
O'BRIEN: Never once in that speech, as you know, which I have the speech right here. So that was back – he never once used the word apology. He never once said I'm sorry.
KING: Didn't have to. The logical – any logical reading of that speech or the speech he gave in France where he basically said that the United States can be too aggressive, talking to the French –
O'BRIEN: That was on April 3rd in 2009. Right. But that's not apology. So you're – people –
KING: It is. I do consider it -- we're apologizing for our position – we have nothing to apologize to the Muslim world at all. We have not sacrificed our ideals. He was overseas criticizing American officials and the CIA and others when he says that we've lost our ideals. These are the people who kept us safe for eight, nine years against Islamic terrorists.
O'BRIEN: But everybody keeps talking about this apology tour and apologies from the President.
KING: It is.
O'BRIEN: And I'm trying to find the words "I'm sorry, I apologize" in any of those speeches. Which I have the text of all those speeches in front of me. None of those speeches at all, and if you go to FactCheck.org which we check on a lot, they'll say the same thing. They fact check this, and they say this whole theory of apology –
KING: I don't care what FactCheck – I don't care what FactCheck says!
O'BRIEN: Well, okay, they're a fact checker. You may not care, but they're a fact checker.
KING: No, no! I'm talking about – no.
O'BRIEN: I know! And I'm reading the speeches. I'm reading them.
KING: Any common sense interpretation of those speeches, the President is apologizing for the American position. That's the apology tour. That's the way it's interpreted in the Middle East. If I go over and say that the U.S. has violated its principles, that the United States has not shown respect for Islam, that's an apology. How else can it be interpreted? He's certainly not bragging about the United States.
O'BRIEN: I think plenty of people are interpreting it as a nuanced approach to diplomacy is how some people are interpreting it. So I don't think that everybody agrees it's an apology.
KING: I don't interpret it that way.
O'BRIEN: Well clearly.
KING: And more importantly, our enemies don't interpret it that way.
O'BRIEN: Well I don't know that that's necessarily the case. I think that's what we're trying to figure out.
KING: Well I think it is. And that's where we have an honest difference of opinion.