MSNBC’s Alex Witt Suggests Hillary’s ‘What Difference Does It Make’ Was Taken Out of Context

It seems the liberal media are desperately determined to shield Hillary Clinton from any attacks on her handling of the Benghazi fiasco. On Sunday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, the host attempted to blunt the criticism by suggesting that Mrs. Clinton’s opponents have taken her memorable "What difference, at this point, does it make?" quote from her testimony in January out of context.

Witt was talking with Steve Thomma of the left-leaning McClatchy Newspapers chain about how far the Benghazi talking points fiasco will go. Thomma predicted that Republicans would use the issue against Democrats in the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential race. He pointed out that a GOP Super PAC has already put out an attack ad that excerpts Secretary Clinton’s angry eruption. But Witt had a problem with the way the ad used that quote:

 

"But Steve, that video, we have to say that video, don't you believe that was taken out of context? I mean that was, you know, putting together an ad that takes what she said, one phrase, without giving the whole sentence or the entire paragraph, right?"

 

The ad in question actually showed more than just one phrase from Clinton’s testimony. Here is what they ran:
 

"Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans – what difference, at this point, does it make?"

 

I’m not sure more context is needed to understand Clinton’s meaning. She doesn’t care how those four Americans died. But I’ll provide some more context anyway. Here is the entire paragraph that Witt desires:
 

"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans – what difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator."

 

Mrs. Clinton looks even worse in context. If she believes it’s her job to figure out what happened and prevent it from happening again, then it should matter to her how those four Americans died. There’s a big difference between preventing a spontaneous attack and preventing a carefully pre-planned terrorist attack. Does Alex Witt really want to expose Clinton’s contradiction by providing further context in a TV ad?

Incidentally, Brian Williams stripped away even more context from Clinton’s remark at the top of Friday’s NBC Nightly News. Williams quipped, “To quote former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?’ Well, to those involved in this investigation, trying to track down how the attack happened in the first place and how the story was then wrongly told at first, it makes a lot of difference.

Is Witt upset that Williams took Hillary out of context? Maybe, but perhaps she’s more upset that the anchor of the evening newscast on her parent network had the audacity, for once, to criticize the mighty Hillary Clinton.

As Williams stated, it does make a lot of difference how those four Americans died in Benghazi. If they were killed in a pre-planned terrorist attack, it’s important for all of us to know that. If Islamic terrorism is still a problem in the Arab world and if al-Qaeda is not, in fact, on the run, we need a government that can admit that and deal with it accordingly. If administration officials changed Susan Rice’s talking points to omit references to terrorism and dishonestly paint the attack as a demonstration based on a YouTube video, we need to know why. And we need journalists that are not afraid to ask those tough questions.

Below is a transcript of the Alex Witt segment:

STEVE THOMMA: And politically, how far it goes is 2016. It goes right into the 2016 election. The video of – I’m sorry.

ALEX WITT: No, you just answered my next thought I was going to say. Are we going to see attack ads based on this for 2014, and basically you've just told me yep, in 2016 we will.



THOMMA: We’ll see them in 2014 and, more importantly, as Aaron mentioned, Hillary Clinton, you know, the video of her at those first round of congressional hearings, saying what does it matter now? That video will be showed millions of times by the Iowa caucuses.

WITT: But Steve, that video, we have to say that video, don't you believe that was taken out of context? I mean that was, you know, putting together an ad that takes what she said, one phrase, without giving the whole sentence or the entire paragraph, right?

THOMMA: Oh, absolutely. But in any context it’s gonna be used against her. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. You know, it's interesting, because Congressman Issa may call her back to testify again, and she may have a second bite at that apple.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.