The conflict unfolding thousands of miles away in Israel and Gaza has its roots in decades of complex strife between Jews and Arabs over land. But to hear the way it’s being described in American conservative media, much of the fault and responsibility lies with one man: President Biden.
The operational failures that allowed Hamas to plan and execute the attack without warning? American intelligence, not just Israeli intelligence, dropped the ball, conservative critics said over the past week.
The money Hamas raised to pull off such an organized, multipronged military operation? The Biden administration’s loosening of financial sanctions allowed Iran to funnel money to Hamas, its longtime beneficiary, they insisted.
And in the rare situation when conservative pundits found something they liked about Mr. Biden’s response — many acknowledged they were pleased to hear him denounce the deadly Hamas incursion as “pure, unadulterated evil” — the compliments quickly became condemnation.
“President Joe Biden solemnly declared today that he stands with Israel against the terrorists. Great,” the conservative economist Stephen Moore wrote on HotAir.com. “But his actions in the White House have facilitated these homicidal attacks by financing our enemies.”
On Fox News’s late afternoon talk show, “The Five,” the topic quickly turned to what Mr. Biden didn’t say.
“Missing from Biden’s speech was Iran,” said one of the co-hosts, Jeanine Pirro, criticizing the president for not mentioning the role that Iran played in the attack last weekend — even though that role is unclear.
Ms. Pirro went on to list other complaints, including that Mr. Biden had not demanded the swift return of American hostages held by Hamas nor warned, she said, “that not a hair on the body of any American be touched going forward.”
The story of the war between Hamas and Israel as it’s being told in conservative media is one in which one particular policy move by the Biden administration looms large. Much of the coverage from the right has focused on the decision to transfer $6 billion to Iran as part of a deal that led to the release of five imprisoned Americans from the country last month.
The $6 billion is not U.S. taxpayer money, as former President Donald J. Trump and other Republicans have falsely stated. Nor is there evidence that the money, which officials have said is subject to Treasury Department oversight, was used to finance the attacks. In fact, the Biden administration has said that Iran has not had access to those funds, which Iran was only supposed to use for humanitarian purposes.
But conservative critics argued that those restrictions were meaningless because money in government accounts is easily moved around and that Tehran could have freed up money elsewhere to give to Hamas.
“This is what happens when you appease and sell out to the enemy,” Mark Levin, the radio host, said on his program. “Joe Biden rearmed the Hamas, Hezbollah, Nazi terrorist groups. Joe Biden rearmed the Palestinian terrorists in every way possible.”
The Fox News host Sean Hannity said the $6 billion was “money that we know will be used to foment terror.”
Barely mentioned in conservative media were the widely condemned comments from Mr. Trump in which he criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and referred to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group, as “very smart.” When Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, was asked about the remarks on “Fox News Sunday,” he deflected and criticized Mr. Biden. “What concerns me even more is this administration’s actions,” Mr. Cotton said.
Republican presidential candidates and elected officials have also seized on the Hamas attack to lay blame on the president, drawing a connection to the hostage release deal and the $6 billion payment, which the United States froze after the attack.
Representative Ryan Zinke, a Montana Republican who was interior secretary in the Trump administration, gave an interview to Breitbart in which he accused the Biden administration of being in “intelligence denial” about Iran.
“Look at Iran. Iran hasn’t changed their behavior,” Mr. Zinke told the conservative website. “This administration continues to deny that Iran is the principal driver of terrorism in the region.”
Extensive coverage and airtime on Fox News has been devoted in the past week to pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses and elsewhere, where demonstrators who were interviewed professed not to know of or not to believe stories about the atrocities committed by Hamas militants last weekend.
One man wearing a scarf that covered his face to conceal his identity told Fox on Friday that reports of slaughtered Israeli babies were “obviously propaganda.” (The New York Times and other media outlets have reported on the killing of children and, in one case, visited a morgue where the bodies of young children and infants were being kept in small bags.)
Some conservatives have linked the outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza to a broader critique of the left and liberal policies — often with unfounded claims. With thousands of migrants being stopped at the southern border every day, some in right-wing media have argued, without offering any evidence, that agents of Hamas are slipping through.
Charlie Kirk, the pro-Trump activist who hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, floated the idea on his program. “It’s possible Hamas has hundreds or thousands of militants on the interior of the United States ready to bomb hospitals, blow up schools, or just rain terror.”