Benghazi could have been prevented. Those were the findings in a newly released bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee that blamed the State Department for failing to protect the U.S. consulate in eastern Libya.
During its nightly All Things Considered program on Wednesday, NPR anchor Audie Cornish and reporter Tom Gjelten spent nearly four minutes discussing the report without uttering the names Obama and Clinton once. Gjelten even made a bit of a gaffe about the Democrats. On Thursday, NPR’s Morning Edition didn’t bother to cover Benghazi, but instead found time to discuss whether or not Florida would decide that medical marijuana should be given to children with seizures.
Throughout the segment, the closest Cornish and Gjelten came to uttering the names Obama and Clinton was in reference to “The State Department” and “The White House,” but the two figures at the center of the controversy remained absent. Gjelten describes the committee’s review as such:
GJELTEN: The committee says the Benghazi attack was preventable. The Accountability Review Board actually came close to saying that. It said the security arrangements at the Benghazi compound were grossly inadequate given the threat in the region. Now, the Senate report actually takes that a step further. They go into great detail about how much intelligence there was indicating the danger that al-Qaida elements were organizing in eastern Libya and the possibility that they were preparing possible attacks.
Later on in the segment, Cornish asked the reporter that "given how politicized the debate has been around the Benghazi attack....can you say now that there's consensus on what happened there” between Republicans and Democrats? This led to a very awkward response from Gjelten:
GJELTEN: There are still disagreements, partisan disagreements. Republicans say there should be more accountability, both in terms of State Department people being fired for their failures and also for the people that carried these attacks. Republicans pointed out that no one is in custody. Also, the Republicans reiterate a longstanding complaint that they think the White House downplayed the threat that this was a terrorist attack, as opposed to a protest demonstration.
Taken at face value, Gjelten's words awkwardly suggest that Democrats don't want to arrest and hold the terrorists accountable for the Benghazi attack. While Gjelten is correct that Republicans have been forceful in pushing for State Department accountability, especially holding Secretary of State Clinton responsible, Gjelten could have broken major news by suggesting Democrats don’t want accountability “for the people that carried these attacks,” but his apparent misstatement was never corrected by Cornish.
As my colleague Kyle Drennen pointed out, NPR was not the only media outlet to ignore President Obama in its Benghazi coverage. All three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, failed to mention the president’s name in their primetime or morning news coverage over the last two days. It would be nice if NPR would break away from its liberal image and acknowledge the two major Democrats at the center of the Benghazi scandal, especially when one of them, Hillary Clinton, is the likely frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016.