NPR's All Things Considered on Friday night repeatedly came to Susan Rice's defense -- and NPR journalists repeatedly played dumb, pretending to be confounded why critics would object to her lying about Benghazi on five Sunday talk shows.
While NPR's three full or partial features on the subject suggest Rice is having difficulty, the spin was all friendly. Anchor Robert Siegel asked NPR's pundits E. J. Dionne and David Brooks "Are the complaints against her serious, in your view?" Dionne said no, as if all Secretaries of State lie on national TV. Brooks thought Rice was "fine":
DIONNE: [Sen.] Susan Collins, who's actually a likable person, said at one point that there was something wrong with her having gone on one of these TV Sunday chat shows. Well, for goodness sake, everybody who is Secretary of State, including Hillary Clinton, has done plenty of that. [!]
And, you know, it's worth noting that, you know, Senator Collins, Senator Ayotte and Senator McCain were the three people who campaigned for Scott Brown. So there is that political undertone. They really want John Kerry. They've said it. They've almost endorsed John Kerry --
SIEGEL: Kerry out of the Senate, so Scott Brown can run.
DIONNE: -- out of the Senate so Scott Brown runs again. So now, I just can't believe that's what really motivates this, but it's very hard to understand. If they have a deep objection to her for other reasons, to Susan Rice, let them say it. This doesn't explain what their objection has to be.
Then Brooks, naturally, insisted Rice was "fine" -- typically kicking the rear of moderate Republicans like Collins and McCain and Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, who you might think would be his political favorites.
BROOKS: I think Susan Collins is pretty clear: It's the politics. It's not exactly Benghazi. More than most diplomats, Susan Rice is a more partisan, more sharp-edged figure. I personally think her behavior on Benghazi was fine. She was doing what the team wanted her to do.
Siegel found both pundits thought Obama should push Rice through:
SIEGEL: If you're President Obama, and you have a choice of proceeding with this nomination or making one that goes through without any friction, do you stand by - if she's your choice, do you stand by Susan Rice on principle or no?
BROOKS: If you think she's best, you should try to push her through.
DIONNE: The more the Republicans raise the stakes, the higher the pressure on him to go with Susan Rice.