MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid: Benghazi Is Not a Scandal

MSNBC continues to do its best to protect the Obama administration from any accusations of wrongdoing in the Benghazi fiasco. On Sunday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, the host went so far as to ask whether it is even legitimate to call Benghazi a scandal.

Witt was setting up her pre-taped “Office Politics” interview with Joy-Ann Reid, managing editor of The Grio and frequent MSNBC contributor, when she announced that she "asked Joy-Ann about the fallout from the Benghazi attacks and if it's legitimate to call that mess a scandal.


From the way Witt phrased the question, it was apparent what the answer was going to be. After all, she described it as a “mess,” not a scandal. Sure enough, the show cut to a tape of Reid sneering, “If you can't explain the scandal in two lines, it's probably not sustainable.

Not sustainable? It has sustained itself pretty well for the past eight months, despite MSNBC’s best efforts. That’s because critics of the administration have a compelling case to make that it is, in fact, a scandal.

Here is the scandal in two lines, Ms. Reid: the White House edited Susan Rice’s Benghazi talking points to omit facts that revealed the incident to be a terrorist attack. They instead pushed a false narrative that the attack had stemmed from a demonstration against a YouTube video.

Reid anticipated this argument: “If it's about the talking points, that story has been undermined by what happened with ABC’s Jonathan Karl.” But the Jonathan Karl saga is a red herring. Karl certainly made a big journalistic mistake: he suggested to his readers that he had seen a damaging email from White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, when in fact he had only been given a summary of the email. That summary, in turn, made it seem as though Rhodes was particularly concerned with editing the talking points to protect the State Department. The actual email showed that Rhodes wanted to respect “all of the relevant equities” – there was no specific mention of State Department concerns.

Karl’s error in judgment, however, does not nullify his larger finding that the White House did substantially edit its official talking points to conceal the true nature of the attack. The heart of the story, and the scandal, has not been “undermined” as Reid would like us to believe.

As leftists so often do, Reid asserted that the average American is on her side: “So unless Republicans can explain really clearly and succinctly, the average American is not going to understand what the scandal is.”

This sounds more like wishful thinking than anything. MSNBC is determined to douse this scandal before it destroys the reputation of their chosen president.

Below is a transcript of the exchange:

ALEX WITT: In today's office politics, we sit down with the managing editor of The Grio, Joy-Ann Reid. We discuss The Grio’s continuing coverage of the search for black leaders to follow in the footsteps of President Obama. But first I asked Joy-Ann about the fallout from the Benghazi attacks and if it's legitimate to call that mess a scandal.

JOY-ANN REID: If you can't explain the scandal in two lines, it's probably not sustainable. It's sort of like pitching a movie in Hollywood. You have to give them your log line in, like, two lines or you're not getting your movie made. And the problem Republicans are having, they haven’t been able to clearly explain what it is they're accusing the White House of doing. If it's about the talking points, that story has been undermined by what happened with ABC’s Jonathan Karl. The fact that the smoking gun in the talking points turns out to have not been factual, that the e-mail from Ben Rhodes out of the White House that was supposed to contain defense of the State Department really didn't, that undermines that part of the case. So unless Republicans can explain really clearly and succinctly, the average American is not going to understand what the scandal is. So I think the White House can just sort of sit back and watch this one play out, because I'm not sure it's going anywhere.

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