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.
Four Americans are dead from a September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and it's becoming abundantly clear that security at the compound had been incredibly lax and that the Obama administration may have actively attempted to deceive the public about the terroristic nature of the strike in the first few days subsequent to it. A House committee is holding a hearing as I write this to get to the bottom of things.
So how did the Post cover the story in the Wednesday, October 10 paper? By worrying about the political impact on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Here's how staff writer Anne Gearan opened her page A1 story headlined "Deadly Benghazi attack could mar Clinton legacy":
The headline writers for Bradley Klapper's story early Wednesday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, about the September 11 attack which destroyed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and killed four Americans, including Libyan ambassador Christopher Stevens, had a real problem on their hands: How do we make our headline so boring that people who see it won't feel like clicking over to the story itself (or, if they're reading a newspaper, not moving on to it)? Their answer, which was pretty effective given their apparent goal: "State Dept reveals new details of Benghazi attack."
Zzz ... zzz ... Oh, excuse me, I needed a second cup of coffee to get past that snooze of a headline. Klapper's story wasn't any better, as he atrociously buried the lede -- that there never was a protest over the 14-minute anti-Mohammed video before the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya took place -- and was incredibly vague in his reference to this breathtaking story change when he finally did bring it forth (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Charlie Rose badgered former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday's CBS This Morning over the "few specifics" of Mitt Romney's foreign policy speech on Monday. During the interview, Norah O'Donnell boosted former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's "full of platitude and free of substance" blast at Romney's speech.
Rose changed subjects midway through the segment and also hounded the former U.S. attorney on whether the Romney campaign has "decided to be more moderate" in the last days of the presidential race.
CNN's Piers Morgan just couldn't let his Republican guest denounce President Obama's foreign policy. He spouted the White House spin on all the President's accomplishments while not holding him accountable for the Libya fiasco, on his Monday night show.
"I would say one of the things that Barack Obama has done incredibly successfully is restore a lot of America's very damaged reputation around the world since the eight years of George Bush and all the warfare that came with it," claimed Morgan. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
The 2007 video of then-Senator Barack Obama hinting at racism in the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina isn't the only news story that NBC's Todayshow stuck up its nose at during the first days of October. The morning newscast has conspicuously ignored covering the latest developments in the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It hasn't devoted a full segment or even a news brief to the issue since September 29.
As Today devoted air time to how Mitt Romney's debate performance was supposedly "completely overshadowed" by "hunting" Big Bird, ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning devoted full reports on Monday to a former security official's charge that the State Department ignored repeated requests for extra security at the diplomatic facility in Libya.
Given the recent death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya, one would expect the three news networks to investigate the grotesque failures by the federal government to protect our embassies overseas.
Unlike NBC’s Today, ABC and CBS’s Friday morning shows both covered recent State Department emails showing they denied a request by officials in Libya for increased security in May leading up to the terrorist attack on our Libyan Embassy last month.
On Tuesday, three weeks after the deadly terrorist strike on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, two House Republicans sent a letter to Obama Secretary of State Hillary Clinton detailing "incidents dating to April" that evidence "a pattern of threats" against the late Amb. Chris Stevens, many of them "new revelations" such as the fact that "Libyans working as private security guards at the U.S. compound were warned by family members in the weeks before the assault to quite their jobs because of rumors of an impending attack."
Yet Post editors placed the story on the matter, headlined "Probe in Libya moving slowly," on page A10 of the October 3 paper. In the same article, Birnbaum and Gearan quote from one Walid Faraj, "a member of the militia that local officials tasked with securing Americans in Beghazi" who "said he saw the attack nearly from start to finish." Faraj insists he has yet to be interviewed by either American or Libyan investigators. "Since that day, nobody has called, nobody cared," Faraj told the Post. "How is it the Americans didn't anticipate anything?"
"When a little boy is kidnapped" and forced to become a child soldier, "that's slavery," President Obama noted in a September 25 speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Yet a mere three days later, the president waived-- for the third year in a row, no less -- U.S. sanctions on countries that use child soldiers, including Libya, where, as you may have noticed, we've had some nasty diplomatic security issues of late.
The headline writers at the Daily Beast are either dumber than a box of rocks, or really, really don't like the content of Eli Lake's story today. The smart money should be on the latter.
As of 5:20 p.m., Lake's story concerning previous attacks on Benghazi, numerous security warnings, and the State Department's refusal to beef up protection was Number 2 in the rotation on the Daily Beast's home page, but with the headline seen after the jump.
Today marks three weeks to the day after the deadly terrorist strike on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and yet the scene of the crime remains "unguarded" and the FBI has yet to do an investigation on the ground there, much to the confusion and dismal of local residents of Benghazi, Washington Post staffers Anne Gearan and Michael Birnbaum reported in today's Washington Post.
Yet the article, headlined "U.S. pulls all personnel from eastern Libyan city," was buried on page A12 of the October 2 edition of the Post.
CNN reported a new bombshell in the ongoing Libya fiasco on Monday night, while the networks had already moved on from the story. CNN's Erin Burnett disclosed that "key intelligence" was left out of the post-Libya narrative given to the American public. The networks made no mention of Libya all day Monday and through Tuesday morning after being late to new developments in the story.
"[T]here were a decision made as to some of these key things that obviously are now considered to be crucial to this – essential to this attack were left out of the briefing points given to Congress and given to the American people," Burnett reported.
In the October 1 broadcast of NewsNation with Tamron Hall, a segment featuring former State Department Middle East officer Joel Rubin focused on how the Romney campaign was “trying to put all of these things in a big pot hoping that something picks up steam” concerning President Obama’s foreign policy. Yep, it’s still the same game with some in the media – which is to trivialize what can hurt the president to prevent it from becoming news.
"President Obama has almost a psychological need to be totally blind to the realities of Islamic extremism."
So said former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Fox News's Hannity Monday during a discussion about the political impact of new revelations concerning the terrorist attack on our consulate in Libya.
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, BBC America Washington correspondent Katty Kay dismissed the electoral impact of the Obama administration's mishandling of the crisis in the Middle East: "I'm not sure that who said what, when, and when the intelligence came out...I'm not sure that that's going to be a huge issue for voters in the course of this election." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, she did bemoan the fact that ongoing chaos in the region may blunt Obama campaign attacks against Mitt Romney: "It does mean that it's harder for the White House to keep focusing on what was a pretty disastrous response from the Romney campaign initially. So it kind of draws a line under that." And what of the "pretty disastrous response" by the President of the United States?
Let's see. Who has the bigger problem with Libya and the Middle East? Is it the guy who's in charge with a foreign policy in disarray who has described the first murder of a U.S. ambassador in 33 years a "bump in the road"? Or his presidential campaign challenger Mitt Romney?
If we're to believe Mike Allen, Jim Vandehei, and Politico, it's Romney, where "Romney advisers at odds over Libya" was the only thing visible on my computer screen when I went to the web site's home page at 10 p.m. ET. You have to go almost all the way to the bottom of the home page to see stories about how "at odds" Obama administration advisers have been and still are about the U.S. positions on Libya, terrorism, Israel, and the Middle East during the past several weeks. Several paragraphs from the Romney story, wherein one learns that there really isn't much in the way of conflict, accompanied by yet another round of "the polls say Romney's doomed," follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Does anyone remember anybody in the establishment press speculating over who might hold Cabinet positions during a second Bush 43 term in the fall of 2004 without qualifying it with "if Bush is reelected"? Neither do I.
But at the Politico on Thursday, the closest Josh Ragin got in an item found at the web site's "The Cable" section speculating on whether John Kerry or Susan Rice is better positioned to be Obama's nominee to be "America's next top diplomat" (i.e., Secretary of State) was quoting a Republican Senate aide who merely referred to the possible fireworks "if it's the beginning of a second Obama term." That doesn't even qualify as a qualifier either, because a victorious Obama might attempt to confirm a new nominee to replace Hillary Clinton during a lame-duck session. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
On Saturday's Fox News Watch, as the panel discussed the media's lack of attention to revelations that the Obama administration knew that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a pre-planned terrorist attack in spite of dismissing the event as a protest that got out of hand, left-leaning FNC analyst Kirsten Powers declared that the media have had a "really disturbing lack of curiosity" about the episode, adding that they "should be holding" the Obama administration's "feet to the fire in a a serious way."
Since MRC president Brent Bozell was busy celebrating at the MRC's 25th Anniversary Gala on Thursday night, Fox News asked him to appear for a "Media Mash" segment on Friday night's Hannity. Bozell and Sean Hannity focused mostly on the emerging scandal of Team Obama's lies about the attacks at the Benghazi consulate that killed four Americans. As we've reported, the networks have been very slow off the mark on this one. ABC's Jake Tapper showed spokesman Jay Carney pooh-poohing it was a “pre-planned attack," which now looks like a lie. Networks didn't want to underline the government knew within 24 hours it was a terrorist attack.
Bozell asked, "Who shows up to a demonstration with rocket-propelled grenades?...Where are the press? They should have been doing this two weeks ago!" Hannity lamented, "They’re covering up the death by terrorists of Americans by terrorists!" And "CBS has yet to cover this,” Bozell said. (Video below)
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer gave quite a scolding Friday to his fellow panelists on PBS's Inside Washington.
During a discussion about the murder of our ambassador in Libya, Krauthammer said, "I just want to respond to my liberal pals over here. I can’t believe you guys are covering for the administration on the Susan Rice thing when they themselves said five days later it was obviously a terror attack" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ABC's Jake Tapper's Thursday report on World News stands alone as the only Big Three coverage so far of what The Daily Beast's Eli Lake reported on Wednesday - that U.S. intelligence officials had "strong indications" within a day that Islamist terrorists were behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi - not a mob enraged at a controversial Internet video.
By contrast, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw tried to point the finger at Mitt Romney on Friday's Today show for the media's apparent lack of curiosity at the inconsistencies in the Obama administration's narrative about the terrorist attack. Otherwise, NBC only aired two reports on the story since Wednesday - twice running the same Ann Curry interview of Libyan President Mohammed Magarief.