Fox News is whitewashing Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) acknowledgment that the Central Intelligence Agency approved the talking points that were used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for an early assessment of the September 11 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.
For two months, Fox has sought to scandalize Rice's September 16 interviews on the major Sunday news shows. During those interviews, Rice said that an investigation into the Benghazi attack was under way but that the current assessment of the intelligence community was that the attack was a reaction to a violent protest at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which was inspired by a controversial anti-Islamic film.
On Friday, Gen. David Petraeus, the former head of the CIA, offered testimony before a closed congressional hearing on the Benghazi attack and its aftermath.
In an interview immediately after that hearing explaining what Petraeus said, King said that the CIA initially wrote in its assessment that attack was connected to an Al Qaeda-affiliated group, but that point was removed during a standard review by the broader intelligence community.
King said that Petraeus testified that he was not upset that the reference to Al Qaeda was removed from the intelligence assessment before it was made public. In fact, King made clear that the CIA OK'd the assessment after the reference to Al Qaeda was removed:
Yeah, they said, "OK for it to go."
But when Fox interviewed King, anchor Megyn Kelly made no reference to King's earlier statement making clear that Petraeus was not upset that the reference to Al Qaeda was removed from the assessment before it was made public, or that the CIA OK'd the assessment Rice relied upon.
King's comments are a fatal blow to the phony controversy over Rice's interviews: Rice never ruled out the possibility that the attack was an act of terrorism, and what she said was consistent with the public assessment approved by the intelligence community -- including the CIA.
Silence is the only way Fox can keep its scandal alive.
Fox News' Geraldo Rivera condemned his colleague Eric Bolling for pushing what Rivera called "an absolute misrepresentation" aimed at scoring "a political point" over the tragic September 11 attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya.
Discussing what reports say were separate attacks on the compound in Benghazi, separated by hours, Bolling criticized the Obama administration for ignoring calls to send help after the initial attack, saying: "So Washington, the State Department, the CIA, does nothing, sends no help."
Rivera immediately took Bolling to task, calling him a "politician" who was "misleading the American people."
As Rivera pointed out, a separate team from Tripoli was dispatched to Benghazi. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday:
Meanwhile, in Tripoli, another CIA team mobilized to provide additional security for the CIA annex and help evacuate Americans from Benghazi. The team went to the Tripoli airport with a suitcase full of cash to find a plane to fly to Benghazi. They were delayed because Libyan authorities insisted the Americans be accompanied by a larger Libyan force on the ground in Benghazi, which took time to assemble, U.S. officials say. Libyan officials attribute the delay to the Americans not sharing key logistical details with them.
At about 7 p.m. -- 1 a.m. in Benghazi -- the team touched down at the Benghazi airport. The team had to negotiate for transport into Benghazi, the senior U.S. intelligence official said. When the team learned the ambassador was missing and the annex attackers had dispersed, they focused on the security situation at the hospital, where the ambassador was thought to be.
By the time the team was able to arrange transportation with an armed escort, the intelligence official said, they had learned that the ambassador was almost certainly dead and the security at the hospital was unclear, so they decided to go to the annex to help with the evacuation. The ambassador was pronounced dead shortly after 2 a.m.
Right-wing media, led by the Drudge Report, are pushing a conspiracy theory that the Labor Department will use Hurricane Sandy to delay releasing October jobs data until after the election. This scaremongering is a continuation of the right-wing conspiracy theory that the government is manipulating economic data to help re-elect President Obama.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to release October jobs data, including the official unemployment rate, on Friday -- days before the presidential election. But Labor Department officials have reportedly said that it will be difficult for economists to access the employment data, which can only be accessed on site, as long as the federal government is shut down due to the storm.
An October 29 Wall Street Journal blog post quoted a spokesman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics saying that the bureau would assess the situation after the storm passes and notify the public if it needed to change its release schedule.
In a subsequent statement released on Monday, the Labor Department said, "The employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are working hard to ensure the timely release of employment data on Friday, November 2. It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October Employment Situation Report."
And, as reported by The Hill, there is no mystery surrounding a possible delay: it's a simple fact that BLS analysts cannot access the data as long as the federal government is shut down.
The Washington Post hid almost a full year of job creation in Ohio, suggesting that it was only after Republicans won elections in 2010 that the economy began to recover.
The Post highlighted the heavy focus on Ohio during the waning days of the presidential election and reported:
Over the past two years, Ohio's economy has begun to rebound. Unemployment stands at 7 percent, below the national average and down from 9.4 percent in November 2010, when Republicans scored major victories in the midterm elections. Republican Gov. John Kasich claims his policies have helped turn around the economy, but the brightening picture gives a potential lift to Obama as Election Day nears.
But the unemployment rate in Ohio had been falling the entire year leading up to the 2010 election, after it had peaked at 10.6 percent in late 2009. The unemployment rate in the state declined throughout 2010 and by September 2012 had dropped to the lowest level since before President Obama was elected.
Fox News' Stuart Varney suggested that third quarter economic growth as measured by the Commerce Department was a conspiracy to help reelect President Obama, pointing to the fact that economic growth was driven in part by increased government spending.
On Friday, the Commerce Department released its initial estimate of gross domestic product, reporting that the economy grew by 2 percent in the third quarter. That figure was slightly higher than what economists had estimated.
Varney, discussing the figure on Fox News, raised doubts about the numbers, saying: "Dig deeper. Look inside that report, and you see a big 9.6 percent jump in government spending. There is some suspicion that these numbers have been juiced by government spending deliberately in that quarter, in the report, right before the election."
The increase in government spending during the third quarter marked the first quarter in two years when government spending increased. But the rate of increase was not unprecedented, undermining Varney's effort to make this an election year conspiracy. Spending by the federal government jumped by 9.6 percent during the third quarter, driven primarily by increased defense spending. Federal spending increased at a similar rate during the final three months of 2008 and during the second quarter of 2010. Federal spending increased by 13.7 percent during the second quarter of 2009.
Varney's GDP trutherism comes on the heels of his suggestion earlier this month that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was manipulating unemployment data to boost Obama's reelection chances, part of a broader right-wing effort to downplay positive economic news.
The Columbus Dispatch relied on cherry-picked economic data to endorse Mitt Romney for president, painting a distorted picture of the Ohio economy and ignoring Romney's opposition to the successful rescue of the auto industry.
In its October 21 endorsement, the Dispatch wrote:
After nearly four years of economic stagnation, massive unemployment, record-setting debt and government intrusions into the economy that have paralyzed the private sector, the United States needs a new direction. For this reason, The Dispatch urges voters to choose Republican Mitt Romney for president in the Nov. 6 election.
The Dispatch backed up its endorsement by distorting a key economic indicator: the unemployment rate. Specifically, the endorsement cited the right-wing canard that the national unemployment rate was "above 8 percent for 43 of the past 44 months." This masks the fact that the national unemployment rate has been dramatically falling for the past year, part of a broader 2-year decline that has brought the unemployment rate to its lowest level since Obama took office.
And the Dispatch, one of the largest newspapers in Ohio, made no mention of how the Ohio economy has fared under Obama.
In fact, the unemployment situation in Ohio completely undermines the Dispatch argument that Obama's economic stewardship has failed Ohioans. The Ohio unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in January 2009, when Obama took office. The current unemployment rate in the state is 7 percent. The unemployment rate in Ohio is almost 20 percent lower since Obama took office. This is part of a larger trend: the unemployment rate dropped in 41 states in September.
The Dispatch also defended its endorsement by touting what it described as Romney's "wealth of executive experience in the private sector and the public sector," arguing that "Romney's adult life has been spent turning around troubled private and public institutions."
Romney has gone to great lengths to hide his opposition to the auto rescue, dishonestly claiming that he supported the same managed bankruptcy that the Obama administration used to rescue the auto industry in 2009. In reality, Romney's position would have deprived GM and Chrysler of the money needed to get through bankruptcy, and likely would have led to the auto companies being forced into liquidation.
The auto industry accounts for 850,000 jobs in Ohio. It's journalistic malpractice for the Dispatch to ignore the auto rescue while defending Romney's record investing in struggling companies.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace aired a deceptively edited video of President Obama's September 12 Rose Garden address to advance the Mitt Romney lie that Obama waited 2 weeks before calling the attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya an act of terror.
In the days since Romney falsely claimed that Obama did not immediately call the deadly September 11 attack in Benghazi at act of terror, Fox has aggressively tried to muddle the conversation and introduce false ambiguity in Obama's initial comments.
Wallace claimed he was going to show "what actually happened" when Obama first addressed the attack. He then aired a video that clearly fast forwarded through portions of the speech.
Here is Obama's September 12 speech as aired by Fox:
Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi .... We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others .... Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks .... No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.
Wallace claimed that Fox excised portions of the speech "to show that there was quite a gap between various things that he was discussing."
But what Fox edited out of the tape is critical to understanding that Obama was very clearly discussing the Consulate attack when he said that "no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation." In fact, the very next sentence in Obama's speech discussed the victims of the Consulate attack, which he called "this terrible act."
This is what Obama actually said, with the portion aired by Wallace in bold:
Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We mourned with the families who were lost on that day. I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed. And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
It is only possible to pretend that there is any ambiguity over whether Obama was calling the Benghazi attack an act of terror if you edit the tape.
Major print media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, erased Mitt Romney's discredited lie that his economic agenda will be responsible for 12 million new jobs in 4 years from the debate record. In fact, independent analysts have said that Romney cannot support his own math, and some economists say the economy is already on track to create that many jobs.
The Wall Street Journal privileged Mitt Romney's efforts to create a distinction between health care reform legislation he championed in Massachusetts and the Affordable Care Act he has campaigned against, even though a key architect of both reform bills has said that distinction is based on lies.
Previewing the October 16 presidential debate, The Wall Street Journal reported that Romney might tout his work passing health care reform as governor of Massachusetts:
On health care, Mr. Romney may talk about passing a health-care measure in Massachusetts and say his approach was different from the president's, said Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign. "A lot of voters are looking at this election through the lens of the economy, but also they're looking for someone who is competent and someone who will give them confidence," he said.
It has become an article of faith throughout the right-wing media that there are meaningful distinctions between the Massachusetts health care reform law and the Affordable Care Act, which Romney at various times has vowed to repeal outright or to salvage in parts.
But Jonathan Gruber, an economist who is considered the architect of the Massachusetts law, and who served as a key adviser to Democrats as they drafted the Affordable Care Act, says that the bills are essentially the same.
Gruber spoke with Capital New York in November 2011 and said that Romney was "just lying" in his efforts to create distance between his own health care reform and the legislation he now demonizes:
He credited Mitt Romney for not totally disavowing the Massachusetts bill during his presidential campaign, but said Romney's attempt to distinguish between Obama's bill and his own is disingenuous.
"The problem is there is no way to say that," Gruber said. "Because they're the same fucking bill. He just can't have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it's the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he's just lying. The only big difference is he didn't have to pay for his. Because the federal government paid for it. Where at the federal level, we have to pay for it, so we have to raise taxes."
Less than two days after Mitt Romney was pressured to stop using the death of a Navy SEAL killed in Libya as political fodder in campaign rallies, the media are whipping themselves into a frenzy over comments an Obama campaign official made criticizing Romney for politicizing the deadly September attack on a U.S. consulate.
Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for President Obama's reelection effort, appeared on CNN Thursday to preview that night's vice presidential debate. During her appearance, Cutter criticized the Romney campaign for politicizing the attack in Benghazi, Libya, saying that "the entire reason that this has become the, you know, political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It's a big part of their stump speech and it's reckless and irresponsible."
When she was later challenged on those comments, Cutter said in an email to Buzzfeed:
From the time of the attack in Libya, Mitt Romney has stopped at nothing to politicize these events.
On Friday, Fox's Megyn Kelly turned to Cutter's comments and asked whether it was fair to blame Romney for politicizing the attack.
One name missing from Kelly's discussion was Glen Doherty.