CBS Moves on From Benghazi E-Mails Suggesting White House Cover-Up; NBC Glosses Over the Controversy

On Wednesday evening, ABC and NBC finally reported e-mails suggesting a White House post-Benghazi cover-up, although NBC's report ignored the suggestion of a cover-up. After reporting the story on Wednesday morning, CBS ignored it in the evening.

While the ABC World News covered the e-mails in-depth, the NBC Nightly News only offered a news brief and skirted over key details like the purpose of the e-mails, which, as ABC reported, "suggest the White House blamed the attacks on an anti-Islamic video in order to deflect criticism of the President's policies."

The prime e-mail in question was sent from then-White House strategic communications adviser Ben Rhodes to then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice instructing her to disseminate what were later proved to be false talking points: "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.

ABC's White House correspondent Jonathan Karl added that the e-mails contradicted the White House narrative that the intelligence community supported the claim, something he battled White House press secretary Jay Carney over on Wednesday afternoon. NBC left out that whole portion of the story.

"The White House has long insisted Rice's talking points came from the intelligence community, but the e-mail was written by a top political aide. And the former CIA director recently told Congress the intelligence community didn't agree with what Rice said," Karl reported.

Below are transcripts of the segments:

ABC
WORLD NEWS
4/30/14
[6:40 p.m. EDT]

DIANE SAWYER: And now in Washington today, the White House was feeling the heat because of a new twist in the fiery debate over Benghazi. The attack on the U.S. Consulate that killed four Americans. A new e-mail seems to call into question what the White House said about its role. And ABC's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl was there asking the questions.

(Video Clip)

JONATHAN KARL: (voice over) 18 months after the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, newly-released e-mails suggest the White House blamed the attacks on an anti-Islamic video in order to deflect criticism of the President's policies. The previously secret White House e-mail lists top goals for ambassador Susan Rice as she prepared for a now-infamous round of interviews just days after the attacks, saying she should, quote, "underscore these protests are rooted in an internet video and not a broader failure of policy." And that's what she said.

SUSAN RICE, former U.N. ambassador: – in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.

KARL: The White House has long insisted Rice's talking points came from the intelligence community, but the e-mail was written by a top political aide. And the former CIA director recently told Congress the intelligence community didn't agree with what Rice said.

MICHAEL MORELL, deputy director, CIA: When she talked about the video, my reaction was, that's not something that the analysts have attributed this attack to.

KARL: The White House insists the e-mail doesn't change the story at all, but it was only released in response to a lawsuit demanding all Benghazi-related e-mails.

(to Jay Carney) Why were you holding back this information? Why was this e-mail not turned over to the Congress? This is directly relevant. Why did you hold it back?

JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: John, again --

KARL: Why did it take a court case for you to release this e-mail? Why was it classified?

CARNEY: Jon, I can say it again and again and I know you can keep asking again and again, this document was not about Benghazi.

(End Video Clip)

KARL: That's right, the White House says it didn't initially release the e-mail because it was about broader unrest in the Arab world and not Benghazi specifically. Officials also point out that they eventually corrected the record, acknowledging there were no protests in Benghazi before that attack. But Diane, this latest revelation has Republicans demanding another investigation.

(...)

NBC
NIGHTLY NEWS
4/30/14
[7:11 p.m. EDT]

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And Benghazi is back in the news after the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained internal White House e-mails that it claims reveal more about the effort to get then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to assert on the Sunday morning talk shows that the attack on the U.S. Consulate was a result of a demonstration over an internet video and not a failure of administration policy. The attack that killed four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya, took place on the September 11th anniversary in 2012 with the President's re-election less than two months away.

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