AP's Klapper Ignores His Own Oct. 2012 Stories in Painting Benghazi Panel As Purely Election-Driven

If there was ever drop-dead obvious proof that it's more than fair to call the Associated Press the Administration's Press, it's in the opening phrase of the first sentence of the wire service's Monday morning report on the House's select committee on Benghazi: "Republicans hoping to ride their Benghazi investigation to a November election sweep ..." As far as reporters Donna Cassata and Bradley Klapper are concerned, there can't possibly be any other motivation for holding the hearings.

Cassata and Klapper's agenda-driven drivel makes several trips into the land of "Republicans say," when the correct words should be: "The facts are." More crucially, Klapper completely ignored two reports he filed on October 10, 2012 which showed that the State Department "never believed" that the murder of Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the Benghazi attack was inspired by an anti-Muslim video (bolds numbered tags are mine throughout this post):


GOP BENGHAZI TEAM BRINGS LONG LIST OF ACCUSATIONS

BradleyKlapperAPwide

Republicans hoping to ride their Benghazi investigation to a November election sweep have entrusted a seven-member team with "getting to the truth," [1] in the words of House Speaker John Boehner, about whether the Obama administration misled Americans about the deadly attack in Libya.

... Some of the more contentious arguments made by the GOP members:

CHAIRMAN TREY GOWDY:

The second-term tea partyer and former prosecutor from South Carolina said two weeks ago there is evidence of a "cover-up." He cited a recently released email by White House national security communications aide Ben Rhodes.

He said the email "probably was the straw that broke the camel's back because that memo made it really clear we're going to blame an Internet video and not a broader policy failure in Libya." The White House has said Rhodes was referring to attacks across the Muslim world, not Benghazi specifically. [2]

... REP. LYNN WESTMORELAND:

The Georgia congressman also is a veteran of a Benghazi investigation, one conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. In April 2013, he issued a news release describing his "two conclusions": that Clinton personally denied much-needed additional security for U.S. diplomats in Libya [3] and that White House officials perpetuated a "lie" about the anti-Muslim film "to protect their own backsides." [4]

Westmoreland pointed to a department cable declining security requests "signed" by Clinton. The conclusion has been widely challenged. The secretary of state's name is routinely attached to State Department correspondence from Washington, most of which he or she never sees or is consulted on. [5] ...

... Westmoreland, 64, has been criticized before as being overly partisan. Democrats disparaged him during the 2008 presidential election for describing candidate Barack Obama and wife Michelle as "uppity" [6] - a derogatory term for blacks who sought equal treatment in the segregated South.

REP. JIM JORDAN:

... According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio Republican said at a Heritage Foundation event this month that the State Department rejected more than 200 requests for additional security. [3] And when the attack happened, he said there was little effort to fight back. "Why weren't we running to the sound of the guns?" Jordan reportedly asked.

... REP. PETER ROSKAM

A confidant of Boehner, the congressman from Illinois has been less vocal about Benghazi than many of his colleagues. He may have less motivation to criticize the administration for the wording of its unclassified Benghazi talking points. Two days before the talking points were drafted, Roskam issued his own statement condemning the attacks. Roskam, 52, blamed "violent extremists" and not "terrorists" for the anti-American unrest in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. [7]

Notes:

[1] — Putting "getting to the truth" in quotes will come off to many readers as reeking of insincerity in light of the AP pair's framing of the first half of the sentence. That would appear to be their goal.

[2] — Nobody except relentless partisans on the left believes the White House's explanation of the Rhodes memo. It's better described as "The worst excuse ever."

[3] (used in two spots) — Gowdy's and Jordan's claims about security aren't the whole story, and the two AP reporters owed it to their readers to elaborate.

Even the usually blind leftist partisans at Politifact have acknowledged as "True" a statement made by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson in an opinion piece that "The State Department not only failed to honor repeated requests for additional security, but instead actually reduced security in Libya." Specifically:

... (A) bipartisan Senate committee found that despite the deteriorating conditions around Benghazi, State Department headquarters decided not to request an extension of service by the Defense Department's Site Security Team, which was scheduled to be redeployed in August 2012, about one month before the attacks.

[4] — That the attack was known not to have been inspired by an anti-Muslim film is far more than Gowdy's "conclusion." It's what Bradley Klapper himself and another AP writer actually reported two separate times on October 10, 2012. Fortunately, I excerpted those two reports in a NewsBusters post that day.

A report by Klapper early that morning buried what should have been the story's lede. After retelling the chain of events just before and during the Benghazi attack — none of which involved "an Internet video ridiculing Islam" — the AP reporter wrote:

The account answers some questions and leaves others unanswered. Chief among them is why for several days the Obama administration said the assault stemmed from a protest against an American-made Internet video ridiculing Islam, and whether the consulate had adequate security.

Translation: "Dear Leader's people lied, and even though we have a presidential election for which early voting has already begun, I'm going to pretend to not know why."

Klapper and AP reporter Larry Margasak put a finer point on things later that morning:

STATE: NEVER FELT LIBYA ATTACK DUE TO FILM PROTEST

The State Department now says it never believed the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a film protest gone awry, giving congressional Republicans new fodder for criticizing the Obama administration's initial accounts of the assault.

The State Department's extraordinary break with other administration offices came in a department briefing Tuesday, where officials said "others" in the executive branch concluded initially that the protest was based, like others in the Middle East, on a film that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad.

It isn't just "congressional Republicans" searching for "new fodder" who cared about Benghazi then — or now. Recent Rasmussen polling shows that "Seventy-two percent (of Americans) continue to believe that it is important to find out exactly what happened in the Benghazi matter, with 46 percent who say it is ‘Very Important.'"

[5] — Of all the weak copouts ever seen, we're supposed to believe that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was so detached from critical matters that she was never involved in any of the 200 requests for additional security at Benghazi — and that this degree of detachment is perfectly normal and acceptable? And she wants to be President?

[6] — Of course, we have to bring race into this — and of course, the AP didn't provide context, or Westmoreland's 2008 rebuttal. Here's the story from September of 2008 (link added by me):

Westmoreland, who represents Georgia's third district, described the Obamas as "uppity" when asked by reporters in Washington to compare Repubican vice presidential canidate Sarah Palin with the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate.

“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity,” Westmoreland said, according to the Capitol Hill Newspaper the Hill.

Westmoreland's spokesman, Brian Robinson, insisted the congressman did not know the word has been used with a racially derogatory intent against African-Americans.

"When describing the Obamas as part of an elite class, Congressman Westmoreland also used a synonym for elitist: uppity. He was using the dictionary definition of the word, which is having 'an inflated self-esteem' or 'snobbish.' He stands by that characterization and thinks it accurately describes the Democratic nominee. He was unaware that the word had racial overtones and he had absolutely no intention of using a word that can be considered offensive," Robinson said.

Given their tendencies to take lavish vacations and Michelle's expensive taste in clothes, the word as defined in the dictionary fits.

As to the racial connotations, the term "uppity" was a criticism leveled at blacks in the pre-civil rights era who in reality wanted to exercise their full rights as citizens, something all too many whites  rejected. The term, as I recall it, was rarely used after the late-1960s, basically because the 1964 Civil Rights Act routed that racist line of thought.

[7] — This is a joke. We're supposed to believe that a statement made by a Congressman two days after the attacks which didn't use the T-word means that he has "less motivation to criticize the administration."

The critical takeaway here is that Bradley Klapper owes his readers — and his bosses — an explanation as to why he's deliberately ignoring his own October 2012 reporting. The default assumption has to be that he was documenting history then, and trying to pretend it doesn't exist now.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.