Can Jessica Yellin be any more of an Obama flap? She scorched Mitt Romney's "binders" comment as hurtful to the candidate, but on Thursday she watered down President Obama calling the deaths of Americans in Libya "not optimal."
The President said on the Daily Show that "When four Americans get killed, it's not optimal." Yellin explained that host Jon Stewart used the word "optimal" in his question and Obama "repeated it." She promptly moved on to Obama's renewed promise to close Guantanamo Bay and his joke about Vice President Biden in a swimsuit. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
New York Times intelligence reporter Scott Shane's mock Q&A in Thursday's edition, "What Happened in Libya? Clearing Up a Fierce Dispute," served to shield President Obama from criticism on how his administration described the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, misleadingly emphasizing that Obama "referred to the attack as an 'act of terror' twice" in two days. Shane omitted that Obama and his administration proceeded to blame the attacks on spontaneous protests over a YouTube video, with Obama himself doing so several times in a September 26 speech to the United Nations.
Shane is worried that "what happened in the attack, and disputes over who said what about it, have left many people confused." (Is "confused" code for "criticizing the Obama administration"?) He's the latest Times reporter to insist that Obama "applied the 'terror' label to the attack" in his Rose Garden address on September 12, while admitting "the reference was indirect." The Times' s own managing editors would quibble with that assessment.
According to a Media Research Center (MRC) analysis, NBC and ABC continued to run interference for President Obama last night by participating in the cover-up of his lie regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi. On the other hand, CBS Evening News fully exposed this lie and called out moderator Candy Crowley for her endorsement of Obama’s deception.
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Jan Crawford devoted a full story to President Obama's deceptive claim that he called the Benghazi attack an "act of terror" early on, as she recounted the administration's initial reluctance to call it a terrorist attack. The CBS correspondent also implicated debate moderator and CNN anchor Candy Crowley in bolstering Obama's distortion.
After showing a clip of Obama and Romney clashing over whether Obama had used the words "act of terror" early on, Crawford showed a clip of what the President said the day after the Benghazi attack, but then exposed Obama's revisionism:
On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer played the part of Obama campaign stooge when he promoted the President deflecting Libya criticism by slamming Mitt Romney: "...[He] firmly and pointedly chastised Governor Romney for politicizing a tragedy like this, a national tragedy. The father of Ambassador Stevens said, quote, 'It would be really abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer then turned to Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and sanctimoniously demanded: "So I want your response, not to the President, but to the father of Ambassador Stevens." Ryan responded: "What we owe Chris Stevens, what we owe these Americans who gave their lives, are to make sure that we get to the bottom of this so we can prevent something like this from happening again."
Candy Crowley was an utter disaster last night, and was, by far, the worst moderator of the 2012 election.
The Libya cover-up continues, and the national news media need to start asking some tough questions – including questions about one of their own. If Obama was correct that on Day 1 he said it was a terrorist attack, why did his UN ambassador say on five different national interviews that it was a YouTube video that was responsible, and who put her up to it?
The second 2012 presidential debate hosted by Candy Crowley got the full court press from the New York Times, with live fact-checking online and a 40-minute TimesCast wrap-up, that found Times reporters wrongly defending Obama and bashing Mitt Romney on a fiery exchange on Libya. Times journalists were highly supportive of Barack Obama's performance and critical of the "peevish" Mitt Romney, who "was arguably showing disrespect for the president," as Jackie Calmes insisted.
Times journalists also falsely insisted that President Obama had called the Benghazi attacks "an act of terror" in a Rose Garden speech the day after, and that Mitt Romney had made a "serious gaffe" when he suggested Obama had not. Yet in fact, as two other Times journalists softly pointed out later in the videocast, Obama was only speaking generally when he said in his Rose Garden speech that "no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation." Of the Benghazi assault, Managing Editor Richard Berke admitted that Obama "didn't say 'it was a terrorist attack.' It was more of a vague quote."
It looks like Candy Crowley, her establishment press excuse-makers (for her and President Obama), and supporters of the President are going to have to resort to finding penumbras emanating from Obama's September 12 Rose Garden appearance -- y'know, the one during which the press and Democrats insist that the President really, really did call the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya a terrorist attack.
The reason they're going to have to do this is because the person who asked Obama the Libya question is saying that the President himself told him that he delayed calling Benghazi a terrorist attack. Erik Wemple at the Washington Post apparently doesn't grasp the damning significance of what the questioner, Kerry Ladka, relayed to him.
Just before 1 p.m. ET, Rush Limbaugh said the following about CNN's Candy Crowley and her performance as "moderator" last night in the second presidential debate: "In the real world, she would have committed career suicide last night."
During Tuesday's post-debate coverage on CNN, as the panel discussed moderator Candy Crowley giving cover to President Obama's attempt to defend his initial flawed response to the Benghazi terrorist attack, CNN correspondent John King blamed former Governor Mitt Romney for giving Crowley the opening to undermine the GOP candidate's criticism of Obama for taking so long to recognize that the attack was a premeditated act of terrorism.
Shortly before 11:30 p.m., CNN anchor Anderson Cooper had raised the subject as he defended Romney's reasoning and suggested that Obama was taking himself out of context to cover his own tracks. Cooper:
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer had some harsh words for his fellow journalists Tuesday concerning their coverage of the murders of four Americans last month at our consulate in Libya.
During a Fox News Special Report segment about this matter and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's assertion that the buck stops with her on Benghazi, Krauthammer said, "The media had to be shamed by Fox News into looking into this in the first place" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
All three morning shows on Tuesday highlighted Hillary Clinton "falling on her sword" and "taking blame" for the growing scandal over Libya. But NBC and ABC avoided specifics. On Good Morning America, reporter Reena Ninan failed to press the Secretary of State on details concerning Barack Obama's role.
In contrast, CBS reporter Margaret Brennan pushed for details on what the administration knew and when. She singled out United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and her initial claims that the murder of Chris Stevens was a result of an anti-Islamic movie: "Who briefed Ambassador Rice that day? Did you sign off on that briefing and those speaking points?" Clinton said no and curtly replied, "You would have to ask her...Everybody had the same information." Yet, according to ABC's Ninan, "...Clinton appeared to fall on her sword."
In an interview segment with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on his October 15 program, MSNBC's Martin Bashir alleged that conservatives are "shamelessly exploit[ing]" the deaths of Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans who were killed in the September 11 terrorist strike on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Bashir insisted that the family members of the slain are "all" tired of politicians trying to make hay out of the matter, citing the reaction of Amb. Chris Stevens's father as evidence that the families of the are all peeved at Republicans and generally trusting of the Obama administration.
Perhaps Bashir just disregards the sentiments of Ms. Pat Smith, whose son was killed in the 9/11 anniversary attack. Smith has been interviewed by Anderson Cooper, where she complained that she believes that the Obama administration has NOT been forthcoming with answers to her questions. Reported the Huffington Post (emphasis mine):
When a news anchor's Obama-friendly question is slapped down by even a liberal columnist, it's whacky. CNN's Carol Costello wondered if Libya should even be a campaign issue, but both her guests -- liberal and conservative -- answered in a resounding affirmation on Monday.
Citing the father of dead Ambassador Chris Stevens, who deplored the tragedy becoming a campaign issue, Costello asked "So I think the Ambassador's father spoke out too late because Libya has already become a campaign issue. I guess the question is should it be?" [Video below the break. Audio here.]
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien just can’t stop herself from appearing like she works for the White House rather than the supposedly most trusted name in news.
This was so apparent on Monday’s Starting Point that guest Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, asked her, “Am I debating with the President's campaign?” (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
With New York Times political reporter Jeff Zeleny sitting next to her on the Fox News Sunday set, radio host Laura Ingraham demanded: “I would hope that the New York Times, as they camped outside of Scooter Libby’s house, during the whole Valerie Plame thing -- are you guys camped out of the Susan Rice residence?” After reciting the administration’s dissembling, she concluded: “This is ridiculous and I think the press is partly culpable here.”
Zeleny avoided her point and instead contended Mitt Romney has an opening at the next debate to question President Obama, conceding Obama “hasn’t really explained himself and they have a lot of questions to answer.”
"Either they are misleading the American people or incredibly incompetent."
So said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday about the administration's reporting of what happened when four Americans were killed at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month.
In an op-ed at "Bloomberg View" on Wednesday evening, editor and columnist Michael Kinsley's headline teased that "Maybe President Romney Wouldn’t Be So Bad," before twice urging readers to vote to reelect President Obama, including in the final paragraph after an alleged parenthetical (and obviously mythical) "Pause for reflection." Ha ha.
What came in between wasn't very funny at all -- and since he's an editor, his view of things presumably has impact beyond his columns. The worst whoppers came in the following paragraph:
While CBS This Morning asked only one tough question on the Obama administration and Libya on Friday, guest Newt Gingrich came out swinging and dismantled Democratic guest Jennifer Granholm's defense of the administration. CBS has at times been friendly to the administration over the fiasco.
"I think with regard to the debate and the election, I don't think people are going to be voting on Benghazi. I think they are going to be voting on who do you trust," Granholm ridiculously argued. "You want to talk about trust? Having an American ambassador and three other Americans killed while the President lies to you is a pretty big question," Gingrich shot back. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Reviewing the questions posed at Thursday night's vice presidential debate, ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz clearly favored Team Obama. Out of 48 discrete questions and follow-ups, a plurality (19, or 40%) incorporated a pro-Obama/Biden or anti-Romney/Ryan agenda, vs. 25% (12 questions) that skewed in the other direction and 35% (17 questions) that were neutral or purely information-seeking.
Raddatz showed almost no bias in her foreign policy questions, which split down the middle: eight pro-Romney vs. seven pro-Obama (not counting the neutrals). But on domestic issues, especially on the budget and taxes, she practically joined Joe Biden in pounding on Paul Ryan, with a dozen questions that incorporated liberal campaign themes, compared to just four based on a conservative premises, a stark three-to-one liberal tilt.
In a surprise, New York Times' Public Editor Margaret Sullivan criticized her paper in a Thursday afternoon blog post for downplaying the congressional hearings into the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya. The Times made the interesting decision to put the second day of hearings on page 3 Thursday, in the International section, as opposed to the National section, which begins in the middle of the paper. In contrast, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal both put the hearings on the front page, while the Los Angeles Times carried original reporting from Libya (not the hearings) on the front page.
Sullivan asked the Times's editors why they chose to ignore the story in their main section and soon got a response: "there were six better stories."
Stephanie Cutter ignited a firestorm when she blamed Team Romney on Thursday for making the Libya fiasco into the "political issue" it has become, but CNN's Brooke Baldwin enabled her gross political accusations by calling the Libya controversy a "political circus."
"No doubt this has absolutely turned in to a political circus, whatever political aisle you're looking at," Baldwin began the interview. Cutter then used those exact words in her first response: "Paul Ryan has politicized and made it a political circus all over this country of the terrible tragedy that happened in Libya." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Updated at bottom of post | Bit by bit, slowly but surely, the Obama administration's initial story about what transpired in the deadly September 11 terrorist attack unraveled over the past few weeks. At the same time, we learned, no thanks to broadcast network newscasts that largely ignored the story -- that the consulate was poorly secured, that security personnel had been reduced in the weeks preceding 9/11, and that Amb. Chris Stevens feared for his life.
So how did the Washington Post cover yesterday's House Oversight Committee hearing into "The Security Failures of Benghazi"? According to Post staffer Anne Gearan, it was a "highly charged" partisan exercise that "produced few new revelations about the attack" although it "underscored the administration's political vulnerability over the Benghazi episode four weeks before the presidential election."
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, co-hosts Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell waited until the fifth interview question to press Obama adviser David Axelrod about the fiasco in Libya. The question wasn't even a tough one, basically asking for the administration's spin.
"David, the consequences of what happened in the death of the Ambassador in Libya has caused some scrutiny in those incidents in the security there, and people are writing in editorials this morning that perhaps there was some pressure on Ambassador Rice to say what she said," Rose brought up the charges against the administration. "What is the response of the President to these questions and charges?" he asked.
The Benghazi fiasco and the ensuing cover-up by the Obama administration got minimal media play before yesterday's congressional hearing, and even with that hearing, the media are still hard at work with their excuse-making for the White House, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney on Thursday morning's edition of the Fox Business Network program Varney & Co.
For example, "ABC, last night, Diane Sawyer interviewing Barack Obama, she interviewed him for four minutes, she asked him every question imaginable about his debate performance, she even invited him to say that Mitt Romney was a liar" but she spent "not one second" on Benghazi, the Media Research Center founder told Varney. [watch the entire interview segment in the embedded video below the page break]
The Associated Press, after an initial acknowledgment in a Tuesday evening timeline from Bradley Klapper, has consistently failed in several subsequent reports to cite State Department officials' unmistakable assertion that there were no protests whatsoever at the Benghazi, Libya U.S. consulate on September 11 before the lethal terrorist attack which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Instead, later reports create the impression that protests did occur.
It's even getting carried into coverage of different events. In his story (link is to early paragraphs of original version) about the Thursday morning murder of a security official at the U.S. embassy in Yemen, the AP's Ahmed Al Haj (identified as the reporter in the item I originally saw, since revised) betrayed the wire service's uninterrupted obsession with "an anti-Islam video," and wrote as if nothing learned in the past two days has any validity (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform convened for a hearing on Wednesday at 12 p.m. EDT to delve into the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Detailed accounts were heard, revelatory statements were made, but MSNBC's noon time program Now with Alex Wagner was too busy criticizing everything Mitt Romney has said over the last few years to even acknowledge what was transpiring, much less dip in to cover the hearing itself.
As Congress holds hearings on the fatal attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the New York Times placed its partisan political story by Michael Schmidt and Eric Schmitt on page A10 under a neutral, purely political headline, "Before Hearings on Libya Attack, Charges of Playing Politics." The text box was mild: "An inquiry is expected to focus on potential intelligence failures."
The Washington Post at least put Benghazi on the front page, in a story by Anne Gearan under the critical but off-target headline "Deadly Benghazi Attack Could Mar Clinton Legacy" (as if Hillary Clinton's reputation is the key issue at stake, not the four Americans killed). NewsBuster Ken Shepherd critiqued Gearan's story.
With a House Oversight committee slated to hold a hearing on the deadly Benghazi consulate terrorist attack at noon today, there was really no excuse for CNN's Starting Point to not cover the story. But alas, anchor Soledad O'Brien checked her journalistic credibility at the dressing room door, going on air with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sounding more like an Obama apologist than a hard-nosed reporter.