Editor's Note: This was intended for publication on Wednesday. We apologize for the delay.
It's on. As the White House grapples with a growing backlash over its Libya lies and lapses, President Obama's apologists are gearing up for battle. Put on your hip-waders. Grab those tar buckets. Get ready for Operation Smear Benghazi Whistleblowers.
Capitol Hill hearings this Wednesday on the deadly 9/11 consulate attack by jihadists will feature three compelling witnesses, all State Department veterans: Gregory N. Hicks, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya and highest-ranking U.S. diplomat in the country at the time of the Benghazi jihad attacks; Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine who now serves as deputy coordinator for operations in the agency's Counterterrorism Bureau; and Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer who was the top security officer in Libya.
On Wednesday evening, CNN barely covered the congressional hearing on the Benghazi attack from earlier that afternoon. Instead, the network provided wall-to-wall coverage of the Jodi Arias trial verdict and the Cleveland kidnappings.
From the hours of 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. ET, CNN gave a whopping 4 hours, 9 minutes of coverage to the two crime stories, but a measly eight minutes to Benghazi -- over 30 times more coverage. And three of CNN's prime-time shows didn't even mention Benghazi.
The evening news broadcasts on NBC, ABC, and CBS on Wednesday all offered full reports on the compelling congressional testimony regarding the Benghazi terrorist attack, but only after all three programs led with coverage of the Cleveland abduction case.
NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News both at least informed viewers of the hearing during top-of-the-show teases, but ABC World News failed to make any mention of the hearing until a report nine minutes into the program (though anchor Diane Sawyer did find time to preview a story about tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams).
On Wednesday's All In show, MSNBC host Chris Hayes was gleeful over media coverage of the Benghazi hearings being preempted by both the story of three girls kidnapped and held prisioner for a decade in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as the verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial. Hayes flippantly referred to the crime stories as "the next Lifetime original movie" as he teased the segment at the top of the show:
Regardless of the facts, some at MSNBC continue to peddle White House talking points surrounding the terrorist attack in Benghazi. Appearing on Morning Joe on May 9, Richard Wolffe, the executive editor of MSNBC.com, gleefully used Democratic talking points in his denunciation of congressional hearings on Benghazi.
The segment began with co-host Joe Scarborough challenging the White House narrative that Eric Nordstrom, a 22-year State Department veteran who was in Tripoli during the Benghazi attack, was not demoted for speaking to members of Congress about his doubts over the response to the attack. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
While many in the liberal media are doing their level best to spin and/or downplay yesterday's testimony at the Benghazi hearings, Guy Benson of Townhall.com has done a great job summing up a dozen damning revelations from the career Foreign Service staffers who testified yesterday.
You can read Benson's full story here. Below the fold I've excerpted from just the first five revelations from Benson's piece, "The Damning Dozen":
The network morning shows on Thursday went into tabloid overdrive for the Jodi Arias verdict and an abduction case in Ohio, offering a staggering 56 minutes of coverage. In contrast, NBC, CBS and ABC allowed just under seven minutes combined to hearings on the 2012 terrorist murder of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya. This is a disparity of eight-to-one.
Good Morning America proved to be the least interested in the national security issues raised by Benghazi. The morning show devoted 19 minutes to the Arias conviction and the kidnapping of three women in Ohio. Yet, whistleblower testimony in Washington D.C. warranted a mere 53 seconds. The four hour-long Today show on NBC spent 27 minutes on the two cases and a scant two and a half minutes on Libya. The most balanced network turned out to be CBS.
Thursday's New York Times led with the congressional hearings into the Obama administration's response to the terrorist attack on Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of September 11 that left four Americans dead: "Envoy Testifies Libya Questions Led To Demotion," reported by the team of Scott Shane, Jeremy Peters, and Eric Schmitt. But the paper still treated it as a partisan game of gotcha in an online symposium titled "Serious Investigations, or Partisan Ploys?"
In what could be seen as either ignorance or more likely denial of reality, NBC News's David Gregory seemed to minimize the severity of the potential cover-up following the September 11 terrorist attack on an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on May 9, the Meet The Press host simply claimed that the Benghazi talking points were merely handled by the Obama administration with "sloppiness." [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
CBS's Sharyl Attkisson is apparently viewed by network executives as "wading dangerously close to advocacy" in her coverage of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, as Politico's Dylan Byers asserted in a Wednesday item. Byers reported that "Attkisson can't get some of her stories on the air, and is thus left feeling marginalized and underutilized."
Attkisson's minute-long report about the House Oversight Committee's latest hearing on the attack on Wednesday's CBS This Morning was actually the first time since November 23, 2012 that the journalist reported about the story on air, according a search on Nexis.
Wednesday's congressional hearings on the September 11 terrorists attacks in Benghazi provided a stark contrast between Fox News and MSNBC. From the time the whistleblower testimony began at 11:36am through their conclusion after 5pm, Fox devoted 108 minutes to simply airing the hearing with no anchor commentary. MSNBC, in comparison didn't allow any live coverage. Instead, the cable network aired a scant five minutes and 20 seconds of taped snippets of testimony. [See a chart of coverage below.]
CNN came in second, allowing a mere 17 minutes of footage. After the 2pm hour, CNN lost all interest, instead the network's anchors eagerly promoted the coming verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial. (FNC's reporting on the story after 2pm dropped off to five minutes of taped footage.) The hearings commenced at 11:36 and so did Fox's coverage. CNN waited until noon to break in and MSNBC came in last at 12:17 (with a taped piece and discussion only).
Back in November, you may recall, my colleague Mark Finkelstein noted how Klein was gobbling up Obama talking points on the fiasco "like Thanksgiving turkey." Well, Klein's still at it, right down to his suggestion that the Benghazi consulate compound was under siege on September 11 because of a YouTube video (emphasis mine):
The Associated Press could not very well ignore today's hearing at which whistleblowers are testifying as to the events surrounding the Benghazi attack and the Obama administration's failed response thereto. So AP did the next best thing from its liberal perspective: it downplayed the hearing's significance, casting it as a purely partisan event in its headline as a "GOP hearing."
That is not mere MSM spin: it is blatant journalistic malpractice. This is not some unofficial hearing held under Republican auspices. It is an entirely official hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Yes, there has in recent times been a faux House "hearing" held by a political party for partisan purposes. That would be the "hearing" held by Democrats in February 2012, featuring Sandra Fluke. More after the jump.
Benghazi hearings open in the House on Wednesday, and the New York Times printed a preview on page 16 of Wednesday's edition that downplayed any possible revelations about the Obama administration's reaction to the terrorist attack, which killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Testimony is expected by three State Department officials, led by U.S. diplomat Gregory Hicks, deputy mission chief in Tripoli, who said his pleas for military assistance were overruled.
Feeling reader pressure after the Washington Post led its Tuesday's edition by setting up the House hearings, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan addressed the issue on her blog Tuesday afternoon, posing a coverage question to Washington bureau chief (and former neoliberal economics reporter) David Leonhardt, who didn't anticipate hearing much new on Wednesday:
Chuck Todd has defended the Obama admin's decision not to send more special ops to Benghazi.
Appearing on today's Morning Joe, NBC News political director Todd claimed that the decision to send only two special ops to Benghazi was "very rational." He also literally laughed off the notion that Benghazi could boil into a major scandal. View the video after the jump.
Have you seriously wondered why the media have largely boycotted the Benghazi story?
Dennis Miller has, and on Fox News's O'Reilly Factor Tuesday, he compellingly said, "If you’re the one who brings down Barack Obama, you will be out of the game" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
To normal people, the Fox News Channel is just one cable TV channel among hundreds or thousands on their set-top boxes. To a very tiny minority of Americans, though, FNC is the very apotheosis of evil in America, even “worse than Al Qaeda” as the deranged Keith Olbermann once put it back when he was employed.
For these people, Fox News is something to be not only feared and loathed, it’s also something to make up stories about. The latest lefty to come out with a tall-tale about Fox News is MSNBC contributor and veteran purveyor of conventional group-think Jonathan Alter. The former Newsweek editor claims in an upcoming book that FNC chief Roger Ailes ordered liberal pundit Geraldo Rivera’s microphone silenced during a particularly heated debate last year over the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya:
Wrapping up a report on Monday's NBC Nightly News about a fresh round of congressional hearings on the Benghazi terrorist attack, correspondent Andrea Mitchell dismissed the development as political posturing by the House GOP: "There is an obvious political undercurrent. Republicans are taking direct aim at Hillary Clinton, the country's most popular Democrat and a possible presidential contender." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell began the report by noting new testimony from Gregory Hicks, the State Department's deputy mission chief in Tripoli, Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack, "who said he called for military help from four more special forces operatives in Tripoli, but was overruled." Mitchell emphasized that Hicks was "a diplomat, not a military officer," just before quoting his statement on the lack of U.S. military air support during the attack.
Fox News Channel analyst and former anchor Brit Hume asserted Monday night that for Benghazi “to become the scandal it surely deserves to be will require another ingredient: Relentless news coverage of the kind the media typically avoid when the subject is someone or some cause they favor.”
He explained: “That’s why the Gosnell abortion horrors were played down for so long and that’s why the now discredited Benghazi talking points were treated as just an honest mistake.”
CBS used its Sunday evening and Monday morning newscasts to keep the spotlight on the question of a "possible cover-up" surrounding the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Jeff Glor led CBS Evening News with the scoop from earlier in the day on Face the Nation – that a "career U.S. diplomat is raising new questions" about the Obama administration's claim that the attack spontaneously erupted in response to an early protest in Egypt.
Monday's CBS This Morning also aired a report on this latest development on the September 11, 2012 attack. Meanwhile, ABC and NBC have yet to pick up on the veteran diplomat's allegations, despite the fact that he is set to testify publicly to Congress on the issue on Wednesday.
Appearing on NBC's Chris Matthews Show on Sunday, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius initially dismissed the Benghazi terrorist attack as being "Fox News's super-story," with left-wing host Matthews agreeing: "This is a big Fox story." Fellow Post columnist Kathleen Parker called out Ignatius: "I know Fox has been covering it, but, you know, that doesn't mean it's wrong." Ignatius acknowledged: "It doesn't mean it's wrong." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Parker, who prompted discussion of the topic, told Matthews: "I knew you were going to roll your eyes on this, but I think it makes you look good to at least mention it on your show." Matthews replied: "David's also rolling his eyes." Ignatius denied the charge, declaring: "No, I think this is, Benghazi is a serious story." Parker prodded him: "Could you say that a little louder, please?" Ignatius reiterated: "Benghazi is a serious story."
Proof Sunday morning that Republicans can use their power to hold House hearings to force media coverage of topics journalists have shown little interest in probing. CBS's Face the Nation led with an “exclusive” which Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committe on Oversight and Government Reform, gave host Bob Schieffer about the upcoming testimony from Greg Hicks, the second in command in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attacks.
“Today,” Schieffer touted, “there is new information raising questions about whether there was a cover-up by the State Department to deflect criticism that it had ignored requests for more security for its people in Libya.”
Thursday's CBS This Morning singled out the FBI's pursuit of three persons of interest who could provide information on the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Margaret Brennan touted how "what happened that night is still the topic of debate in Washington", and noted that members of Congress "want to speak to those Americans evacuated from Benghazi, but claim the White House won't release the names."
ABC devoted a news brief to the FBI's investigation on Wednesday's World News, but didn't cover the development the following morning on Good Morning America. NBC apparently didn't find the story newsworthy, as they failed to cover it on their evening and morning newscasts.
All three network newscasts on Monday and Tuesday ignored the shocking assertions made by a whistleblower who told Fox News that special forces could have responded to the 2012 terrorist attack on Benghazi. He also claimed that the United States knows who perpetrated last year's assault on the U.S. embassy. Fox News's Adam Housley interviewed a man he described as a "special ops member who watched as the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi unfolded."
On Tuesday's Special Report, Housley claimed, "However, multiple sources tell Fox News that the U.S. has identified the mastermind of the Benghazi attack who was still in Libya and walks free." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The whistleblower insisted the reason the Obama administration hasn't acted is because "we basically don't want to upset anybody." The operative flat-out declared, "We have all the capability, all the training, all the capacity to kill and capture that only terrorist involved with the specific events of 9/11 and Ambassador Stevens' death." Yet, ABC, CBS and NBC have, thus far, ignored the story.
President Barack Obama will take to the podium in the White House press briefing room at 10:30 a.m. Eastern for a press conference. The occasion: today is the 100th day of his second term in office. We at NewsBusters will be watching and I'll be live-blogging the questions from reporters. Pardon my inaccuracies as I'll be transcribing on the fly.
In the comments section, leave some question that YOU would ask if you were in the room. Which questions should be asked but likely won't?
Wednesday's New York Times story by Cairo correspondent David Kirkpatrick about a car-bombing in Libya buried an important new development in the Benghazi scandal. A report from House Republicans accused then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of rejecting a call for additional security for U.S. diplomats in Libya before the Benghazi terror attack that killed four Americans last year on the anniversary of September 11.
NBC and ABC completely skipped a scathing new report that singles out Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for blame after the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. CBS, in contrast, offered full reports on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Evening News anchor Scott Pelley announced, "House Republicans fired off a blistering report today criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell trumpeted, "House Republicans issued a scathing report on the Benghazi attack. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed last September." Yet, the ABC programs World News, Nightline and Good Morning America ignored the development. GMA, however, found time to promote important topics, such as "dancing babies" and the "secrets" behind America's favorite game shows. NBC's Nightly News and the Today show also avoided the subject.
As the media predictably gush and fawn over the thought of Hillary Clinton as president, there's something extremely obvious they've been missing.
Rather surprisingly, Roger Simon, the perilously liberal chief political columnist at Politico, asked the $64 million question on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday, "How good a job did she really do as Secretary of State?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
While new White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was grilled about the Benghazi terrorist attack on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory only lobbed a single softball on the scandal, while fill-in host Jonathan Karl ignored the topic all together on ABC's This Week. The White House was unwilling to even allow Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to interview McDonough.
On Meet the Press, after providing a fawning biographical intro of McDonough, Gregory only briefly touched on Benghazi, hoping the controversy was over: "I've talked to Republican senators, they've wanted to get additional information about what the President did the night of the attack...Has the President finished on the Benghazi matter? Is there anything else he's going to say or anything else he's concluded that should've been done that was not done?"