Susan Rice's Questionable Role in Benghazi Aftermath Now a Passing Detail For CBS

Wednesday's CBS This Morning minimized Susan Rice's refuted claims about the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi as they covered her appointment as national security adviser. Charlie Rose and John Dickerson dwelt more on outgoing national security adviser Tom Donilon's term, with Dickerson only vaguely mentioning how Rice was "the focus of so much controversy in the Senate."

The only time that a CBS News personality specifically mentioned Benghazi during the segment was when Gayle King wondered if President Obama's decision to choose the current U.N. ambassador to succeed Donilon was a "message to Republicans who came down hard on Susan Rice during the Benghazi hearings."

John Dickerson, CBS News Political Director; Screen Cap From 5 June 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgAnchor Norah O'Donnell turned to the CBS political director for his take on Donilon stepping down and the President choosing Rice to replace him. She first asked, "So, what's the reason behind this and the timing of this, too?" Dickerson replied by noting that "White House officials say that Tom Donilon has been in that job for four years," and continued with his "focus of so much controversy" phrase about the current ambassador. He added that "Republican senators basically torpedoed that nomination [of Rice], and that – and when that happened, White House advisers said that she was really next in line for that national security job."

Rose followed up by asking, "Was there any dissatisfaction, on the part of the President, about Tom Donilon?" The former Time magazine correspondent answered that "there's been some reporting about his sharp elbows, but...there's also a lot of people in the White House who say there's absolutely no disappointment from the President...So, there's very strong push back against that idea from people inside the White House."

King explicitly mentioned the Benghazi attack as she raised the possible political component to this development: "John, do you think this move is more about Susan Rice than it is Tom Donilon? And does it possibly send a message to Republicans who came down hard on Susan Rice during the Benghazi hearings?" Dickerson again used a vague reference to the ongoing scandal in his reply:

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, the President – we know ever since Susan Rice worked for his campaign, and is, by all accounts from – from those inside the White House, sees the world in the way the President does. They have a very good relationship. And so, he was disappointed during the secretary of state circus, as they saw it. So this is someone with whom the President has a close relationship – once – even more on the inner circle. She was already a member of the Cabinet as the ambassador to the United Nations.

O'Donnell then asked one final question about Rice's possible successor as U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power.

The full transcript of the John Dickerson from Wednesday's CBS This Morning:


CHARLIE ROSE: As President Obama gets ready to meet China's president this week, his national security adviser is about to step down.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Officials say Tom Donilon will be replaced by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

CBS News political [director] John Dickerson is in Washington. John, good morning.

JOHN DICKERSON: Good morning, Norah.

[CBS News Graphic: "Breaking News: Donilon Resigning As Nat'l Security Adviser"]

O'DONNELL: So, what's the reason behind this and the timing of this, too?

DICKERSON: Well, White House officials say that Tom Donilon has been in that job for four years. When – Susan Rice, you remember, was the focus of so much controversy in the Senate. When – when she was considered for the secretary of state job, Republican senators basically torpedoed that nomination, and that – and when that happened, White House advisers said that she was really next in line for that national security job. And so, for many months, it's been assumed that she would get it whenever that time came.

White House advisers say it's now been four years for Donilon. He has – he has been working on this deal with the Chinese – this meeting that's taking place later this week – and that he will leave in July after that is – that meeting has taken place, and then, Rice will come in.

ROSE: So, he leaves government. There's not a new position for Tom Donilon. Is there any evidence-

DICKERSON: Not-

ROSE: Go ahead, John.

DICKERSON: Not as far as I know this morning – no.

ROSE: Yeah. He was certainly a principal adviser. Was there any dissatisfaction, on the part of the President, about Tom Donilon?

DICKERSON: Well, there – there is – in that job, you're – you can always get reports from somebody who's unhappy about – about the way the national security adviser is doing their job. And so, there's been some reporting about his sharp elbows, but there is – there's also a lot of people in the White House who say there's absolutely no disappointment from the President; from the Vice President; from Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who used to work under Donilon. So, there's very strong push back against that idea from people inside the White House.

GAYLE KING: John, do you think this move is more about Susan Rice than it is Tom Donilon? And does it possibly send a message to Republicans who came down hard on Susan Rice during the Benghazi hearings?

DICKERSON: Well, the President – we know ever since Susan Rice worked for his campaign, and is, by all accounts from – from those inside the White House, sees the world in the way the President does. They have a very good relationship. And so, he was disappointed during the secretary of state circus, as they saw it. So this is someone with whom the President has a close relationship – once – even more on the inner circle. She was already a member of the Cabinet as the ambassador to the United Nations.

O'DONNELL: And John, Susan Rice then will leave – open that position as U.N. ambassador. I understand that Samantha Power is set to replace her – another close adviser to the President.

DICKERSON: That right, and the interesting thing is Samantha Power has been working in the administration – was a strong advocate for intervention in Libya. She has spent her professional career working against genocide and mass atrocities. The question is, what then will she do on that question related to the massive refugee flows out of Syria in this new post at the United Nations – where they're trying to get the United Nations to move on that question.

KING: All right. John Dickerson, we thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center