President Calls Libya Deaths 'Not Optimal,' But CNN Glosses Over It

Can Jessica Yellin be any more of an Obama flap? She scorched Mitt Romney's "binders" comment as hurtful to the candidate, but on Thursday she watered down President Obama calling the deaths of Americans in Libya "not optimal."

The President said on the Daily Show that "When four Americans get killed, it's not optimal." Yellin explained that host Jon Stewart used the word "optimal" in his question and Obama "repeated it." She promptly moved on to Obama's renewed promise to close Guantanamo Bay and his joke about Vice President Biden in a swimsuit.

"'Optimal' is a word that Jon Stewart used in asking the question. So the President repeated it. The President also went on to say that he wishes Guantanamo Bay could still be closed, and then he made a joke – joked with Jon Stewart about Vice President Biden showing up to meetings in a wet bathing suit," Yellin reported.

Anchor Wolf Blitzer laughed and noted "I'm sure it was very funny, indeed." And that's how CNN covered President Obama saying the deaths of four Americans were "not optimal."

But Yellin's explanation didn't even hold water. Jon Stewart didn't say the deaths were "not optimal," but rather that the administration's response to the terror attacks were "not the optimal response." As the Daily Mail reported, here's Stewart's words that Obama responded to:

"Is part of the investigation helping the communication between these divisions? Not just what happened in Benghazi, but what happened within. Because I would say, even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as all of us being on the same page."

And as the Daily Mail wrote, "Obama responded: 'Here's what I’ll say. If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.'"

So Stewart was not, in fact, calling the deaths "not optimal." It was President Obama who atrociously used those words to describe the tragic deaths of Americans abroad.

A transcript of the CNN segment that aired on October 18 on The Situation Room at 6:25 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

JESSICA YELLIN: And, Wolf, from here the President went on to New York City where he taped an appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and they covered some serious topics, as well as a few light ones. On the attacks in Benghazi, the President said – let me read it to you. He said, that "Every piece of information we get, as we got it, we laid it out to the American people. The picture eventually gets fully filled in. When four Americans get killed," he went on to say, "it's not optimal." "Optimal" is a word that Jon Stewart used in asking the question. So the President repeated it. The President also went on to say that he wishes Guantanamo Bay could still be closed, and then he made a joke – joked with Jon Stewart about Vice President Biden showing up to meetings in a wet bathing suit.

(Laughter)

WOLF BLITZER: I'm sure it was very funny, indeed.

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