Did you know that the Obama Administration’s handling of the Benghazi fiasco last September and its subsequent explanations to the Congress, the American people and the world is under legitimate scrutiny once again, and that there may be credible and irrefutable evidence that the Administration both botched the response and lied about it? Did you know that at least three whistleblowers—Mark Thompson, deputy assistant secretary of state for counter-terrorism; Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission/charge d’affairs in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom, who acted as a regional security officer in Libya for the State Department—who had direct knowledge of the inner workings of the government during and after the crisis, will be testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, perhaps this week? Did you know that there is a significant possibility that, as Conservative pundits and Republicans were screaming at the time, the Obama Administration executed a deliberate and purely politically motivated cover-up operation designed to withhold the truth about the Benghazi attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and other U.S. personnel until after the elections, if not permanently?
Since this is an important and perhaps transformational developing news story, one would hope that you would know at least some of thus if you have frequented any “respectable” news source over the past few days, and not been spelunking. One would hope, and one would have that hope dashed. There was nothing about Benghazi over the weekend in the New York Times, or on NBC, ABC’s Sunday Morning news show. There was plenty of coverage, all day long yesterday, at Fox, and you know what that means (and is supposed to mean, and in carefully manipulated by the rest of the media to make sure it means), don’t you? The re-opening of the Benghazi issue is a “conservative story,” just concocted, twisted and massaged by the Obama-hating cabal!
To its credit, CBS, via “Face the Nation,” covered the story on Sunday while ABC, NBC and CNN chose to focus almost exclusively on Syria and immigration reform. Bob Shieffer opened the segment by referring to it as “the story that will not go away,” a self-revelatory intro, I think, since Bob, like most of his Obama-worshiping colleagues, probably wishes the story would go away. Yet he quoted one of the so-called whistleblowers, Greg Hicks, who reportedly told investigators that the Administration, contrary to what Susan Rice was sent out to tell the public and what the President told the world, knew “from the get-go” that the attack wasn’t a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islamic video, but a coordinated terrorist act.
Over at Fox, they were able to find at least one Democrat who was willing to breach the party’s blue line. Rep. Stephen Lynch pronounced Rice’s officially sanctioned message as “false” and “wrong.” “There were no protests outside the Benghazi compound there. This was a deliberate and strategic attack on the consulate there,” said the Democratic congressman who represents Boston’s Irish Southie district in Massachussets. Still, despite this and Stephen Hayes’s apparently authoritative account at “The Weekly Standard” of how the CIA’s talking points about Benghazi were “scrubbed” to avoid sparking criticism of the President during the campaign, this still isn’t being treated as a legitimate news story across the media. I was initially encouraged to see a Washington Post online piece titled “Benghazi plot thickens,” but sure enough, the author is Alexandra Petri, one of the Post’s token conservative bloggers. You see, I can’t tell if this is real either—that’s the genius of the progressive-biased news media. It gives us no alternative to confirmation bias. If you distrust Obama and his government, you might be inclined to believe that Benghazi was an incompetent bungle followed by a cynical, Nixonesque, election-tainting cover-up. If you believe the President can do no wrong, then you will want to shrug off this entire issue as just more Republican sniping. A vigorous, free, objective, competent and trustworthy press is supposed to sort it all out for us, but we don’t have that.
What we have is a group of journalists and commentators who encourage ossification of partisan positions and ignorance. The Republicans, specifically Rep. Darrell Issa and Senator Lindsay Graham, have kept this issue alive, and journalists are aggressively passing along the Administration line that it is all personal. On Chris Matthews’s show yesterday, Dan Rather—isn’t it amazing now to think back on how he was once regarded as objective and respectable?—-further disgraced himself by telling Chris Matthews—isn’t it amazing now to think back on how he was once regarded as objective and respectable?—that Republicans “politically want to cut his heart out and throw his liver to the dogs.” Well done! By framing everything Republicans do as part of a vicious, unreasoning personal vendetta, Rather effectively tells the public that they need pay no heed to anything the GOP claims to have discovered regarding Benghazi or anything else, if it reflects poorly on the President. His efforts are mirrored by the relentless characterization of Obama and the Democrats by conservative radio talk-show hosts as secret autocrats trying to strip Americans of their basic liberties. This is how a criminal defense attorney impeaches witnesses against her client—but ethical journalists aren’t supposed to represent Presidents, or their adversaries. They are supposed to help us find the truth.
Thus the Benghazi revelations, if that’s what they are, present yet another integrity check for the Administration, the President, the news media and the public. Were we told the truth? If not, will the government finally, if belatedly, do so? Will those who engineered the deception, not to mention the mishandling of the attack itself, face any accountability? If Rice indeed spread, and knowingly was spreading, a “scrubbed” version of the CIA analysis of the attack, will the President still nominate her, as has been assumed, to be the next National Security Advisor? Will Hillary Clinton face any sanctions or consequences if, as the “scrubbing” reports suggest, she lied to Congress? Will that stop the Clinton-enabling media from continuing to stump for her as the next President? Will the Post, Times, CNN and the rest ever cover this as a news story, rather than take sides as if it was pure partisan warfare? Will the public shrug the whole matter off as old news and too complicated to get upset about? If so, will it further embolden this and future administrations to conclude that it can lie to the public and manipulate facts for political gain with impunity? Will the news media assent to that conclusion? Or is the whole thing just a “conservative story” after all, a trumped-up narrative so Republicans can cut the President’s heart out and throw his liver to the dogs? Does the public care? Should it care? Does it matter?
Conservative blogger she may be, but Petri has this question answered perfectly. “It always matters, “ she writes, “when an administration tries to conceal the truth from the American people. And it matters if those responsible are still in positions of authority.It always matters when an administration tries to conceal the truth from the American people. And it matters if those responsible are still in positions of authority.”