CNN Anchor Questions If Libya Should Even Be a Campaign Issue

When a news anchor's Obama-friendly question is slapped down by even a liberal columnist, it's whacky. CNN's Carol Costello wondered if Libya should even be a campaign issue, but both her guests -- liberal and conservative -- answered in a resounding affirmation on Monday.

Citing the father of dead Ambassador Chris Stevens, who deplored the tragedy becoming a campaign issue, Costello asked "So I think the Ambassador's father spoke out too late because Libya has already become a campaign issue. I guess the question is should it be?"

Both TheBlaze.com's Will Cain and ESPN.com's L.Z. Granderson immediately replied that it should. "I don't know how it wouldn't be. Look, this is not only an issue of national concern. It's an issue of national security," Cain answered. "I fully agree with Will. Somebody needs to be fired. We need to get to the bottom of this," said Granderson.

Costello doubled down after Cain's indictment of the Obama administration and its reaction to the attack. "There are legitimate questions. But, L.Z., I'd like to ask you this. Republicans are now throwing out the word cover-up. Has it gone too far?"

Granderson dismissed that sentiment and directed his scrutiny at the Obama administration. "There does appear to be a lot of shifting in the narrative. And someone at the end of the day needs to be fired. I'm not saying that's President Obama or Vice President Joe Biden. But somebody in that administration needs to answer to the American people. I'm very disturbed by all of this," he declared.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on Newsroom on October 15 at 9:31 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

CAROL COSTELLO: Both campaigns were out in full force on the Sunday morning talk shows.

(Video Clip)

DAVID AXELROD, Obama campaign senior adviser: Anyone based on the intelligence that they were – that they had at the time would have said what – what the administration said.

ED GILLESPIE, senior adviser, Romney campaign: But you have to get honest answers and accurate answers in response to the questions. And what we have seen is a constantly shifting story from this administration.

(End Video Clip)

COSTELLO: The family of Ambassador Chris Stevens who was killed in that attack has other feelings on the matter. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Ambassador Chris Stevens' father said, quote, "It would really be abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue. We don't pretend to be experts in security. It has to be objectively examined. That's where it belongs. It does not belong in the campaign arena," end quote. Joining me now, CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson who leans left. And Will Cain, a CNN contributor who leans right. Good morning, gentlemen.

WILL CAIN, CNN contributor: Good morning.

L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN contributor: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO: So I think the Ambassador's father spoke out too late because Libya has already become a campaign issue. I guess the question is should it be? Will?

WILL CAIN: I don't know how it wouldn't be. Look, this is not only an issue of national concern. It's an issue of national security. There are questions about what was known when prior to the attack. Were danger signs ignored? Were requests for more security ignored? But I think more concerning than that is what in your clip you played Gillespie, is the shifting narrative after the attack. This is extremely concerning.

We know from reporting from Eli Lake at The Daily Beast that there were surveillance cameras on site that shows it was an organized attack. We know there was drone surveillance in the final hours of the attack that shows it was an organized attack. And we know that within 24 hours of the attack, not only did we know it was a terrorist attack, but we knew that al Qaeda was involved and the name of the some of the gentlemen – not gentlemen – some of the men involved.

So, then why did the administration, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, continue to go out on network after network and say this was response to a video and a spontaneous attack? That is completely befuddling and it reflects national security concerns going up to the highest levels of this government. It reflects the Commander-in-Chief. There are legitimate, very, very legitimate and important questions to ask that have not yet been answered.

COSTELLO: There are legitimate questions. But, L.Z., I'd like to ask you this. Republicans are now throwing out the word cover-up. Has it gone too far?

L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN contributor: No. I fully agree with Will. Somebody needs to be fired. We need to get to the bottom of this. There does appear to be a lot of shifting in the narrative. And someone at the end of the day needs to be fired. I'm not saying that's President Obama or Vice President Joe Biden. But somebody in that administration needs to answer to the American people. I'm very disturbed by all of this.

And so Will's right. I don't understand how this could not be a political issue. Mitt Romney was certainly wrong in the way that he – excuse me – initially came out in regards to this. But now that we're in it, we definitely owe it to the American people to get further into it to see exactly what happened, what we knew when, and who should be ultimately responsible.

CAIN: Carol, can I offer you one other reason why this is so important to ask and answer during a campaign season? And by the way, this will have no effect on one candidate versus the other. But, you know, a year ago, we did not have enough of a national debate over whether or not we should go into Libya and take action. We almost rushed into that. And I'm telling you, I was here. I was part of these debates at least in the media about whether or not we should get involved in Libya and oust Gadhafi, and who then would take charge? Who would be in charge of Libya?

We're having many of those same debates today about Syria and regarding the entire Arab spring. What I'm telling you is there are large, large geopolitical theory questions to be asked and answered about our would-be leaders, President Obama or Mitt Romney. And what has happened in Libya reflects the outcome of those decisions. It reflects what you decide about who should you get behind in these countries.    
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014