Even After New Emails, MSNBC Panelists Still Dutifully Dismiss Benghazi Scandal

Forget about the newly released White House emails – MSNBC personalities will never admit that the Benghazi scandal is anything more than a Republican talking point. On Saturday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, fill-in host Richard Lui at least brought up the new revelations in the scandal, but he and his guests continued to treat it like a big, fat nothing burger.

Noting that the House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about Benghazi, Lui skeptically asked Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, “[I]s this about 2014? Because we're just really months away from the election.” Sweet, being the liberal Obama acolyte she is, answered in the affirmative:


Richard, yes, it's about 2014, it's about 2016 and it's about building... two cases now that the Republicans want to re-litigate, because it's not like we haven't been around this movie for years now.
 

She makes it sound like Benghazi is ancient history. In fact, it’s only been a year and eight months since the attack. That hardly qualifies as “years.” And given that new emails are still coming out, it seems that this case hasn’t been litigated thoroughly enough.

Lui then turned to a typical MSNBC concern and asked how Hillary Clinton’s hypothetical 2016 presidential campaign might be hurt if she were forced to testify about Benghazi again. The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe brushed the concern aside as a question of whether Clinton is “willing to engage.” He added, “She did testify a few times regarding this and seemed to hold up her end of the bargain, and it didn't really sully her image that much or damage her approval rating.”

It didn’t sully her image that much? Try telling that to anyone who believes that it does, in fact, make a difference how those four Americans died.

Lui then asked an odd question: “[I]t's a year now, a year and a half or so before – if she were to run, she'll get into it. It's kind of early perhaps to be bringing her in front of Congress, would you say?”

So we’re at the point where MSNBC is just assuming that this is all about politics.

But O’Keefe agreed, and in the process showed that he is the one who thinks this is all about politics. He mused, “[M]aybe she thinks, you know what, if they really want me to come and do this, let's do it and get it out of the way so that I can just go run for president.”

The almighty Hillary can’t let the first violent murder of a U.S. ambassador since the Carter administration get in the way of the quest for the presidency.

O’Keefe then got conspiratorial, speculating that Republicans are now focusing on Benghazi because ObamaCare exceeded its enrollment goals, suggesting to Sweet, “Lynn, I don't know about you, but I didn't hear much conversation on Capitol Hill this week about Obamacare from Republicans. It seems that they have shifted to these other issues.”

Sweet agreed, adding, “[W]hat they're doing is, I think, they're just doing -- they're putting out issues. They're reviving Benghazi.”

Below is a transcript of the segment:

RICHARD LUI: Lynn, we'll start with you here. This latest Benghazi revival comes over those e-mails that we've been discussing this week, just released by the administration, that Republicans claim show that the White House tried to rewrite the attack. When you look at the debate that's ensuing here as they have put out the request here to bring in Secretary of State John Kerry and who else they might issue subpoenas for, is this about 2014? Because we're just really months away from the election.

LYNN SWEET: Richard, yes, it's about 2014, it's about 2016 and it's about building a -- two cases now that the Republicans want to re-litigate, because it's not like we haven't been around this movie for years now. They not only want to talk about what's in this newly revealed e-mail, they also want to -- you hear terms like they're ‘obstructing,’ ‘they're not releasing,’ ‘the White House doesn't want you to know,’ so there are those two channels, though certainly the White House said they wished they had released this e-mail earlier because they say it doesn't say anything they haven't been saying publicly. So that's what it is about, yes, politics.

LUI: Politics 2014, 2016. Ed, to you on this very same issue. The possibility, this has been talked about, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might be asked too, either by the select committee or Darrell Issa's committee as well, and if she is there put in front and questioned, what might be said and how might this hurt her should she run in 2016?



ED O’KEEFE: Well, I mean, that's one of the biggest sort of issues out there, outstanding, regarding her tenure as secretary of State. So certainly if it comes to that, you know, we'll have to see whether or not she is willing to engage and take it on. She did testify a few times regarding this and seemed to hold up her end of the bargain, and it didn't really sully her image that much or damage her approval rating, so we'll see whether or not she's willing to engage. And remember, her book is coming out next month, where it's expected that she’s going to discuss this a little bit.

LUI: And by the way, it's a year now, a year and a half or so before – if she were to run, she'll get into it. It's kind of early perhaps to be bringing her in front of Congress, would you say?

O’KEEFE: Yeah, and in fact, you know, maybe she thinks, you know what, if they really want me to come and do this, let's do it and get it out of the way so that I can just go run for president. But let's just remind people, you've got this new select committee on Benghazi, you have the House Oversight Committee already looking into the issue. The other thing that came up on Friday is House Majority Leader called on –  Eric Cantor called on the Justice Department to hire a special prosecutor to look into all those problems at the IRS. Lynn, I don't know about you, but I didn't hear much conversation on Capitol Hill this week about Obamacare from Republicans. It seems that they have shifted to these other issues. There are legitimate concerns that the administration’s withholding information and not necessarily telling Congress everything, but this is definitely part of 2014 strategy and beyond.

LUI: So are you saying here then, Ed, and to you, Lynn, on this, they're shifting gears, Republicans are, thinking that, okay, Obamacare, it's a win for Democrats because they hit their numbers and at least polling is starting to turn up, go positive. Lynn?

SWEET: Well, I think there's a few things here. In the House, they have to worry district by district. They also have some members who still have primaries. I think about 32 states have had their primaries by now, so what they're doing is, I think, they're just doing -- they're putting out issues. They're reviving Benghazi, not that it -- you know, everyone should know, the issue deserves serious inquiry, but there has been a lot of serious inquiries on it.
 

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.