Bozell Column: Benghazi, Censored or Spun
When we last checked in on Barack Obama discussing Benghazi on the network news, he was reassuring Brian Williams on the October 25 “Rock Center” that “We’re going to do a full investigation.” It’s a year later and it’s still “we are going to.” Last fall, Williams and Obama posed as curious for answers on how this disaster happened. Neither of them has demonstrated any noticeable curiosity since.
A new Media Research Center study of Benghazi coverage in 2013 on ABC, CBS, and NBC shows there are two routine modes of operation: (a) praising Team Obama’s public relations and (b) silence.
The first option came during Hillary Clinton’s ridiculous outburst in her January testimony asking “What difference does it make?” how four Americans died in a terrorist attack. Diane Sawyer at ABC offered thumbs up for “the fiery appearance for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton...The indignation, and then, the tears in her eyes.”
But NBC was goopier. Brian Williams proclaimed Clinton “leaves her post as the most admired woman in the world in the Gallup poll, for the eleventh year in a row.” Then reporter Andrea Mitchell lauded her professionalism: “Parrying hostile questions all day, Clinton was also the political pro. Massaging big egos, sidestepping attacks when she could. When she couldn’t, giving as good as she got.”
The only other real outbursts of Benghazi news came during the brief Obama-scandal outbreak in May. The riveting House testimony of Greg Hicks, the deputy to deceased Ambassador Chris Stevens, was recognized by the networks as “dramatic” and “emotional,” but it didn’t really change their incuriosity. None of the networks brought Hicks on to retell it in a live exclusive interview at the time.
As usual, the other news networks are trying to ignore the news Fox reports. On April 29, an anonymous source inside the special-operations community claimed many people connected to the Benghazi siege feel threatened and are afraid to talk. “The problem is, you got guys in my position, you got guys in special operations community who are still active and still involved,” the source said. “And they would be decapitated if they came forward with information that would affect high level commanders.”
On the same day on “Special Report with Bret Baier,” correspondent James Rosen reported at least three career State Department employees and at least one more at the CIA had retained lawyers (or were in the process of doing so) to provide sensitive information to Congress about Benghazi.
“The four consider themselves whistleblowers and want their counsel to receive the security clearances that would enable them to review classified documents,” Rosen said. “But the lawyer representing one of the employees at State told us the department is not providing a process for that and even worse, is actively threatening her client and the others.”
The other networks didn’t breathe a word about this, and when Obama was pressed on April 30 by Fox’s Ed Henry, he pleaded ignorance: “I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying.” Network coverage of all this? Zero.
Months of incuriosity followed. On July 18, as Congressman Frank Wolf went to the House floor to claim survivors of the Benghazi attack were being forced to sign non-disclosure agreements. The charge emerged again on the August 1 edition of CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper. Reporter Drew Griffin relayed: “CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agencies Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out. Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations.”
Where on earth are the “watchdogs” of the press? Napping around the president’s feet.
On September 3, Paul Bedard of The Washington Examiner revealed that in a new book by former government agent Fred Burton called “Under Fire,” it’s “revealed that an unidentified security official in the Benghazi compound protecting Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens messaged the U.S. embassy in Tripoli: ‘Benghazi under fire, terrorist attack.’” CBS alone granted Burton an interview, and he said “the moment that the first round was fired, the agents that were there knew absolutely that this was a terrorist attack.” But strangely, the names “Obama” and “Clinton” and “Susan Rice” never came up.
One year has elapsed, and the administration has failed to bring any of the Benghazi murderers to justice. The families of the lost Americans and the survivors of the attack have been completely ignored by the TV bookers, no matter how much they are demonized or silenced by Team Obama. This jaw-dropping journalistic failure underscores why the press deserves an approval rating in the single digits.