PBS Decries GOP Benghazi Fundraising, Had No Problem With Obama Fundraising Day After Deadly Attack

On Thursday’s NewsHour, PBS ran a full-length segment on the new special committee created by House Republicans to investigate the September 2012 Benghazi attacks. However, anchor Judy Woodruff and her guest, Robert Costa from The Washington Post -- formerly of the National Review --  pushed the idea that Republicans are exploiting the tragedy by fundraising off of it. The thing is, the network didn’t seem to care back in 2012 when President Obama gave a brief Rose Garden statement after the attacks and then dashed off to Las Vegas for a campaign fundraiser.

Woodruff brought up the issue of fundraising near the end of the interview:

 

I know that Congressman Gowdy, who is going to be the chairman of this committee, said he thought [fundraising off of Benghazi] was inappropriate. But then Speaker Boehner today declined to say that it’s — that it’s wrong.
 

Costa responded that the committee was complicated politically by the National Republican Campign Committee (NRCC) fundraising appeals related to Benghazi. He then joined Woodruff in slamming House Speaker John Boehner:

Speaker Boehner today in a press conference did not address the fundraising from the NRCC related to Benghazi. And I think that is a testament to his ability — his inability to grapple with that tension.
 

Woodruff asked if Republicans believe they can raise money off of Benghazi, and Costa replied, "Oh, I think they have. Not only can they, but they have for quite some time."

Meanwhile, a search of NewsHour transcripts in the days immediately following September 11, 2012, indicates that PBS journalists never complained that President Obama flew to Las Vegas for a campaign fundraiser the day after the attack. He may not have been fundraising off of the attacks, but one would expect the president to set politics aside immediately after a terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate, particularly one which resulted in the assassination of a U.S. ambassador, but this was not worth a mention on PBS.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Robert Costa, I also want to ask you about something else we just heard Congressman Cummings mention, and that is the fact that some Republicans are using the Benghazi allegations to raise money for the party. Where does that stand?

I know that Congressman Gowdy, who is going to be the chairman of this committee, said he thought it was inappropriate. But then Speaker Boehner today declined to say that it’s — that it’s wrong. So, what’s the thinking on that?

ROBERT COSTA: This is a case study in how the select committee is complicated politically.

Trey Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor from South Carolina who is chairing the select committee, Speaker Boehner, they are trying to present a sober look for the Republicans in the House, a seriousness to this entire process. Yet, almost immediately, the NRCC, the campaign arm of the House GOP, started to fundraise off of this entire initiative.



And so you have sober on one hand and then fundraising and political on the other. It’s going to be a hard balance for Republicans to make. And Speaker Boehner today in a press conference did not address the fundraising from the NRCC related to Benghazi. And I think that is a testament to his ability — his inability to grapple with that tension.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there — is this something the Republicans believe they can raise money off of?

ROBERT COSTA: Oh, I think they have. Not only can they, but they have for quite some time.

I spend a lot of time out on the campaign trail. And when I talk to Republican base voters, Tea Party conservatives, Benghazi, more than jobs, it seems, more than any other issue, is at the top of their list of concerns. They really believe the Obama administration is out of line in how it handled the response to these attacks, and they want — they’re pressuring the leadership day in and day out, calls, e-mails, et cetera, to go into it more.

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