Eleanor Clift Triples-Down on Claim That Amb. Stevens ‘Was Not Murdered’

The Daily Beast’s Eleanor Clift is at it again, this time tripling-down on her ridiculous assertion that Ambassador Chris Stevens “was not murdered” in the Benghazi terrorist attack. 

Clift penned a May 15 article in The Daily Beast entitled “My Benghazi Scandal” where she proclaimed “I may be under fire from conservatives for saying Ambassador Stevens wasn’t murdered in Benghazi, but I’m not backing down. Here’s why I said what I did.” [Update included below.]  

The Daily Beast writer made her initial controversial comments on The McLaughlin Group on May 11 before doubling-down during an interview on The Steve Malzberg Show on Tuesday May 13. 

In her most recent attempt to explain her remarks, Clift argued: 

My information came from a former ambassador who lamented that complex and chaotic event in Benghazi are being way oversimplified. He pointed out that Ambassador Stevens died of smoke inhalation in the safe room of a CIA outpost, that he wasn’t murdered in the sense that word is normally used. I thought this was an appropriate observation and still do, despite the hysteria my saying so has ignited on the right. 

After recounting the reasons for Stevens being in Benghazi, Clift tried to compare Benghazi to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983: 

In the meantime, for perspective, I urge everyone to read Jane Mayer’s article “Ronald Reagan’s Benghazi,” which recounts a series of terrorist attacks in Beirut beginning with the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in April 1983, when 17 Americans, including seven CIA officers, were among the 63 killed. In October 1983, a truck filled with explosives rammed a Marine compound, killing 241 unarmed Marines in their sleep. Next was the torture and murder of the CIA station chief in Beirut, followed by yet another bombing of a U.S. outpost in September 1984, two months before the presidential election. 

A House investigation of the Marine barracks bombing found “very serious errors in judgment” and recommended additional security measures around the world. When the September ’84 bombing occurred nearly a year later and the security was not yet in place, Democrats did not see it as an opportunity to score political points. Instead they accepted President Reagan’s explanation that repairs take time: “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”

Update, 4pm May 15: Contrary to Clift's assertion, Democrats did not "accept" President Reagan's line about the Beirut embassy bombing in 1984. Instead, as the New York Times (David Rosenbaum) documented in a front-page article on September 24 of that year:

Democratic leaders accused President Reagan today of making light of the bombing last week of the United States Embassy in Lebanon, and Congressional committees pressed ahead with plans to investigate why security at the embassy had been breached. The Speaker of the House, Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., Democrat of Massachusetts, said it was "ridiculous" for the President to compare the incomplete security measures at the embassy to the typical delays in a kitchen remodeling job. Mr. O'Neill said it was a "blatantly stupid alibi for the destruction of our embassy in Beirut."

Eleanor Clift concluded her defense: 

Today no one in either party would accept such a benign explanation for a lapse in security, nor should they. But no administration is immune to tragic events in troublesome spots in the world, and not every tragedy is a scandal. Poking around for partisan gain in what lawmakers now know were clandestine activities for answers to questions that for the most part have already been answered is the scandal.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.