One Year After Benghazi, No Arrests Made; CNN Largely Mum

On the one-year anniversary of the Benghazi attacks, only three CNN shows bothered to hold the Obama administration accountable for not having made any arrests of suspects. Hosts Jake Tapper and Erin Burnett, and anchor Michael Holmes were the three CNN figures to point at the administration for not having made any arrests.

For the rest of CNN's 18-hour news day, any mentions of Benghazi ignored the lack of arrests and were mostly brief reports on Wednesday's bombing of the Foreign Ministry building in the city and reminders that it was the one-year anniversary of the attacks. Piers Morgan Live made no mention whatsoever of Benghazi.

On Wednesday's The Lead, Jake Tapper rapped the administration for giving "contradictory, and as we later learned, blatantly false explanations" in the days after the attacks. He added that "Although several suspects in Libya have been charged, no one is currently in custody. Four State Department officials originally placed on administrative leave have returned to their jobs with no other punishments."

Tapper then interviewed Pat Smith, mother of slain diplomat Sean Smith, and allowed her to comment on President Obama's promise to serve justice. Tapper brought up a suspect who CNN found and interviewed in Benghazi:

"So Ahmed Abu Khattala is one of the chief suspects in the Benghazi attacks, and nobody from the Libyan government or the United States government has had a conversation with him. What's your response?"

This same suspect was mentioned by CNN's Arwa Damon who found and interviewed him. On the 12 p.m. ET Around the World, anchor Michael Holmes found it "a little troubling" that Damon was "able to find one of the people that authorities were looking for when it came to the Benghazi attack, but nobody has been arrested."

Damon acknowledged, "That's right. And it's been a year." She continued:

"And to some degree, a lot of critics of the Obama administration will say that this is completely inexcusable, especially given that the FBI has named a prime suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala, who is, yes, the individual that we were able to meet with when we were in Benghazi back in May. This is a man who is not even bothering to try to hide. He does not feel as if anyone is going to be coming after him. He spoke to us quite openly for a few hours. He denies any sort of direct involvement in coordinating the attack, but does admit that he was on scene."

On Wednesday evening's OutFront, host Erin Burnett noted that "it's a year later and there has not been a significant arrest" and pointed to the administration. "A year later, justice promised, but this issue still is haunting the Obama administration."

Burnett and correspondent John King explored Benghazi's ties to Obama's foreign policy. "My question to you is how much has Benghazi and the failure there hamstrung, put the President's hands tied behind his back, around Syria?" Burnett asked. King admitted that it has poisoned the public trust in Obama's foreign policy on Syria:

"People looked at Egypt. There was American diplomacy involved there. They thought it was going to work out. What is it like today? It is chaos. They look at Libya. Remember, he was criticized for leading from behind, but then there was a new government. Gadhafi was gone. Everyone thought wow, maybe this was going to be good. And then a year ago tonight that optimism died, Erin, along with four Americans, and that mood, that spirit that this region is just a mess impacts the President when he tries to sell people that he can have an effective plan nearby in Syria."

For the rest of CNN's coverage, however, there was no mention of the administration's failure to make arrests a full year after the consulate was attacked. Early Start co-host John Berman just said that indictments have reportedly been issued:

"The Washington Post cites counterterrorism officials who believe terrorist groups targeted the consulate in advance of the attack. They say numerous suspects involved in the Benghazi attack have been identified and several sealed indictments have been issued in recent months."

Anchor Carol Costello reported that "Last month the first criminal charges were filed against the suspects."

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014