On Monday, NPR Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep expressed -- in the face of all the evidence of Fast and Furious, Solyndra, MF Global, and so on -- that the first term of Obama's presidency was "remarkably scandal-free." When I challenged him on the factual inaccuracy of this, he tweeted in reply , "Hm, did I say it was scandal-free or that it 'has been described' as such?"
However passively Inskeep expressed it, he certainly agreed with it. Inskeep asked Cokie Roberts, "This administration has been described -- I don't even know how many times- - as remarkably scandal-free. But when you get into the second term of an administration, there's often some dirty laundry that comes out. Is that what's happening now?" Roberts agreed:
On Friday's All In show, MSNBC host Chris Hayes led the show by recounting the news of the "big, bad, scary" scandal of President Obama's IRS targeting conservative groups, but also chided Republicans for continuing to push Benghazi, which he referred to as a "witch hunt" and a "fake, ginned up scandal."
After reading a quote from a Tea Party group which brought up Benghazi in reacting to the IRS scandal, Hayes continued:
On Friday's Politics Nation on MSNBC, which was dominated by coverage of the kidnappings in Cleveland, Ohio, host Al Sharpton took a moment to note the Benghazi scandal as he accused Republicans of a conducting a "cheap stunt" and of pushing a "phony conspiracy theory." Sharpton:
In an interview with House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory attempted to dismiss the growing Benghazi scandal for the Obama administration as a GOP political attack: "You've got Republicans talking about this being Watergate. One Republican raising the specter of impeachment. Conservative groups raising money off of the Benghazi story. Are you hurting your own credibility and your own find – fact-finding mission by politically overreaching?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments later, Gregory downplayed the Benghazi terrorist attack as just one incident among many that have "happened throughout our recent history....spanning Republican and Democratic administrations, including President Bush's administration." He then tried to pin the blame on Congress: "Why is there not more of an effort to beef up security after these attacks happen....And isn't this Congress's job to spend the money to beef up security?"
Hard to believe, but Rachel Maddow once engaged in something resembling journalism in response to the attack in Benghazi.
It came on her MSNBC show only two days after the jihadist onslaught that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Maddow described how security in Benghazi had deteriorated for months-- while she inadvertently damned the Obama administration for not providing adequate protection as conditions worsened.
"I may have swung a bit too hard, putting Barack Obama’s Administration in the same league as Franklin Roosevelt’s and Richard Nixon’s when it comes to the Internal Revenue Service," Klein wrote this morning, backpedaling a bit from a strongly-worded May 11 piece reacting to the IRS-targeting-Tea Party scandal. Klein conceded that "The situation remains a major embarrassment, though," and then went on to wage an attack against the Republican Party for seeking to take advantage of the scandals to bash the Obama administration (emphasis mine):
How enthusiastic can NPR be in avoiding the emerging Obama scandals? Try this: So-called “All Things Considered” aired no features on Benghazi or the IRS on Saturday or Sunday. (This excludes on-the-hour news updates.) But they found time for six minutes on the trade in rhino horns.
It was more ridiculous on “Weekend Edition” Saturday and Sunday – they also skipped both. NPR correspondent Michele Kelemen reported on Secretary of State John Kerry for 4 minutes and 22 seconds without a single word about Libya. Somehow the State Department’s Benghazi fiasco wasn’t listed as a “thorny issue” in the Middle East:
During a report on Monday's NBC Today about the Benghazi and IRS scandals wracking the Obama administration, a headline on screen wondered if they were the result of "Obama's Second Term Curse?" White House correspondent Peter Alexander lamented: "Fewer than four months since his ambitious inaugural address, President Obama is facing significant political obstacles.... Some observers are already asking if Mr. Obama is falling victim to the second term curse."
After Alexander detailed second-term problems for past presidents, "From Watergate to Iran-Contra, even Bill Clinton's impeachment," a sound bite followed of NBC's liberal presidential historian Michael Beschloss offering this bit of advice to Obama: "The presidents who have weathered these crises best have been those who do not let themselves get distracted."
President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron will take questions from reporters in a joint press conference to be held shortly at the White House. The president is expected to be asked about revelations that IRS officials targeted Tea Party groups for audits. I'll be watching the conference and transcribing the questions below the page break.
In the comments section, tell us what questions you'd ask the president.
It only took four and a half years, but the liberal media finally found something to criticize President Obama for.
After former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw excoriated the administration on MSNBC's Morning Joe Monday for using the Internal Revenue Service to intimidate political opponents, NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd said, "This story has more legs politically in 2014 than Benghazi" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
White House press secretary Jay Carney had a tough week last week concluding with an absolutely deplorable press conference wherein he continued to spin totally unbelievable yarns about the administration's talking points regarding Benghazi.
This led George Will to say on ABC's This Week Sunday that Carney's "usefulness to this administration is diminishing rapidly" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Asked on Sunday’s Reliable Sources if the wider media dismissed the Weekly Standard story, by Stephen Hayes about the Benghazi talking points getting altered to take out any references to terrorism, because of his affiliation with conservative media, The Hill newspaper Managing Editor Bob Cusack agreed.
Then he turned his criticism on his colleagues: “If you look at the time line of how this administration dealt with Benghazi, there’s been a lot of contradictions from the get go. So, the media hasn’t looked at it as extensively as they should have.”
If you were a journalist reporting on Benghazi whistleblower Gregory Hicks, wouldn't you find it interesting that he was a Democrat who voted for Barack Obama twice?
Someone at NBC News didn't according to Hicks's attorney Victoria Toensing who disclosed the spike job to NewsMax host Steve Malzberg on WMAL radio Saturday (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
My alternate headline for this item: “NBC’s Today Show on Benghazi: ‘There Are So Many Issues the Country Faces. This Is One of Them.’” That dismissive attitude came from ABC News veteran Mark Halperin, now MSNBC’s senior political analyst who also toils for Time magazine, putting the burden on Republican to make an issue of Obama administration dishonesty on Benghazi.
Failing to see any role for the news media after months of malfeasance, Halperin put the burden on a political party: “I think the events of this week mean Republicans now have a chance to make the case to the American people. There are so many issues the country faces. This is one of them.”
Kirsten Powers said something Saturday that should deeply embarrass so-called journalists across the fruited plain.
Appearing on Fox News Watch, Powers - who was Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public Affairs in the Clinton administration - said of the job the current White House is doing with the Benghazi cover up, "Bill Clinton would not have gotten away with this" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
"CBS News President David Rhodes and ABC News President Ben Sherwood, both of them have siblings that not only work at the White House, that not only work for President Obama, but they work at the NSC on foreign policy issues directly related to Benghazi."
So stated political consultant and media commentator Richard Grenell on Saturday's Fox News Watch (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Despite all the information that has come out about the September 11, 2012, attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Bill Maher still agrees with United Nations ambassador Susan Rice.
As hard as it might be to believe, the host of HBO's Real Time on Friday called the tragic event that left four Americans dead a "riot" possibly sparked by an anti-Muslim movie (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Apparently the folks at MSNBC have decided that the Benghazi investigation is merely a political ploy by the GOP to hinder Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions in 2016. Instead of addressing the substantive issues that potentially resulted in a cover-up surrounding the attack, MSNBC anchors and pundits have been going out of there way to protect the Obama administration and smear Republicans.
Doing her duty to defend team Obama on Martin Bashir May 10 program, soon-to-be MSNBC host and former DNC Communications Director Karen Finney laid the blame for the dead in Benghazi on, who else, congressional Republicans:
But I believe that is what the GOP is most terrified of having to talk about. Because they know they screwed up. Their austerity measures may have endangered this man’s life and they don’t want to talk about that. [See video after jump.]
Appearing as a guest on Thursday's The O'Reilly Factor, right-leaning FNC political analyst Charles Krauthammer recounted that the initial State Department reports on the Benghazi attack identified it as an attack by the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia, and theorized that the Obama administration must have covered up the initial reports of it being a terrorist attack for political reasons during the election campaign.
He also underscored the significance of State Department official Gregory Hicks apparently being demoted after criticizing the administration's story about the attack. Host Bill O'Reilly brought up Hicks:
On his Thursday night PBS program, Charlie Rose attempted to fulfill his duties as a liberal media member by defending the State Department’s dishonest talking points following the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi. Rose was grilling Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who was involved in the Benghazi hearings, about his views on the matter.
When Rose asked Chaffetz if he believed there was a coverup, the congressman was ready. He brought up the fact that for days after the attack, the administration claimed the incident had been sparked by a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Islam YouTube video. But Chaffetz and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found that to be a blatant lie: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
When it comes to NBC and its sister network MSNBC, Chuck Todd is one of the few journalists that actually attempt to be fair. However, there are times when Todd will make a statement that makes you pause and question how much he's co-opted by the network's determination to be Obama boosters.
On his May 10 Daily Rundown program, the veteran White House correspondent claimed that when it comes to Benghazi, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “is going to benefit it seems a little bit in this one respect if [it appears] that her opponents try too hard."
New York Times reporter Mark Landler reported on the ongoing controversy over Benghazi on Friday, as House Republicans demanded the White House release what they consider an incriminating email showing officials knew Islamic terrorists were responsible for the attack, yet blamed an anti-Islamic Youtube video instead: "Benghazi Debate Focuses on Interpretation of Early E-Mail on Attackers."
"When Hillary Clinton testified in January, she got five [and a half] hours on MSNBC," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity on the May 9 edition of his eponymous program. By contrast, the Obama-boosting "Lean Forward" network failed to show any live testimony from the May 8 Benghazi whistleblowers hearing. "They're a little bit selective," the Media Research Center founder wryly remarked.
At this point, the cable news networks are "not news networks anymore" as "they are censoring news" on Benghazi, even as they have compelling whistleblower testimony. "How can it not be news," Bozell wondered, that Hillary Clinton insisted she took full responsibility for the Benghazi fiasco and yet the review board she commissioned to investigate the State Department's handling of the fiasco failed to interview her? "How was that not a story yesterday?! This is such a coverup taking place," Bozell argued. [watch the full "Media Mash" segment below the page break]
ABC journalist Jon Karl actually followed up on Wednesday's Benghazi hearings, exposing that CIA talking points on the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack were "dramatically edited" a total of 12 times by the administration. In a report airing on Friday's Good Morning America, Karl explained to viewers that, between the first version and the last, "all references to al Qaeda and all references to CIA warnings before the attack about the terror threat in Benghazi" were removed. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
An ABC graphic went so far as to wonder, "Benghazi Statements Not True? White House Statements contradicted." Karl quoted from Hillary Clinton's State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland. Playing politics, Nuland said of the information in the warnings, "[It] could be abused by members of Congress to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that?" An online version of Karl's story showcased a full paragraph that was removed.
Appearing on Wednesday's The O'Reilly Factor, left-leaning FNC political analyst Kirsten Powers criticized the behavior of Democrats in the wake of the Benghazi hearings in Congress, as she cited the testimony of official Gregory Hicks as compelling. After complaining about Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings's reaction to the testimony, she continued:
As NewsBusters previously reported, MSNBC gave no live coverage to yesterday’s congressional hearings on the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi. Instead, the network aired a mere six minutes and 20 seconds of a highlight from the hearings. Those snippets were spread across four hours, and some of them were redundant.
Contrast that with the way MSNBC treated Hillary Clinton’s testimony on Benghazi back on January 23. On that occasion, the liberal cable network broadcast a whopping five hours and 28 minutes of live testimony.
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.