CNN is using 21-year-old footage of Newt Gingrich attacking Hillary Clinton to promote the return of Crossfire, which Gingrich will co-host, and promising that the show will fixate on Clinton for the next several years.
CNN plans to relaunch the franchise in September and is running promotions for the show leading up to its September 16 premiere. The New York Times reported earlier this month that Gingrich will be "the marquee attraction" on the show.
And if a promo running at CNN.com is any indication, Gingrich will use his perch to renew his decades-long campaign demonizing Hillary Clinton. The promo, billed as a return to "Classic Crossfire," opens with the former Speaker of the House claiming: "The new Crossfire is going to bring a lot of new things to television, but it's also going to bring some that have been on a long time."
Former New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Marshall chastised Rush Limbaugh for "irresponsible" rhetoric and downplaying efforts to reduce concussions in football. Marshall's comments came on SiriusXM's The Agenda, hosted by Media Matters senior fellow Ari Rabin-Havt.
Limbaugh recently complained about the use of sensors in NFL helmets to monitor head injuries, saying it was evidence of "politics that has permeated football," and concluding:
LIMBAUGH: But I'm telling you it's being chickified. The whole thing, everything in our culture is being chickified. And some things fine, but not everything.
On Wednesday, Rabin-Havt asked Marshall, a two-time Super Bowl champion and 12-year NFL veteran, to respond. Marshall said Limbaugh's comments were "irresponsible" and cited several instances of teenagers being severely injured while playing football:
MARSHALL: It's very irresponsible. How about you become the father of a 17-year-old boy who plays in a football game on a Friday night, and is in need of medical attention. It takes 15 minutes for the medics to get there to attend to this kid who gets injured, and your kid dies on the football field. How about being that parent?
CNN reported on August 18 that a high school football player in suburban Atlanta died after suffering an on-field injury after coaches tried to revive him on the field while awaiting an ambulance Friday night.
Marshall also cited the example of Josh Haddock, a former high-school football star in Georgia who in 2010 suffered an injury during practice that required brain surgery. Haddock reportedly is helping to develop a helmet that could alert people to head injuries.
Marshall challenged Limbaugh to become part of the solution:
MARSHALL: Watch and hope that there is change coming down the pike. Be part of that change. Be part of trying to empower young people with knowledge and information about the risk associated with playing tackle football.
The Daily Caller's Mickey Kaus will appear at an August 21 Tea Party meeting to whip up fears that comprehensive immigration reform "would change America irrevocably, and for the worse."
The Hancock Park Patriots, a Tea Party group based in Los Angeles, announced Kaus' participation in the event, promising that he would answer the questions "Can they be stopped?" and "What's the alternative?"
Kaus self-identifies as "neoliberal" and "common sense Democrat" but espouses a far-right ideology, including a fixation on union-busting, and his participation in the Hancock Park Patriots meeting makes clear that Kaus is anti-immigrant. The former Slate blogger has become obsessed with the issue, dedicating all but one of his posts in July on his Daily Caller blog to the subject.
Fox News dishonestly accused White House spokesman Jay Carney of calling the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, a "phony attack" -- a complete fabrication that in no way reflects the comments Carney actually made.
During the July 31 White House press briefing, Carney responded to a question challenging President Obama's criticism that Congressional Republicans have been fixated on "phony scandals." Carney said:
I think we all remember a few weeks ago when Washington was consumed with a variety of issues that, while in some cases significant, there was an effort underway to turn them into partisan scandals. I don't think anybody here would doubt that. And what we've seen as time has passed and more facts have become known -- whether it's about the attacks in Benghazi and the talking points, or revelations about conduct at the IRS -- that attempts to turn this into a scandal have failed.
While the hosts of The Five discussed the press briefing, Fox aired on-screen text that directly quoted Carney calling Benghazi a "phony attack."
Carney had identified as "phony" the fabricated controversy over talking points related to the Benghazi attack. At no point during the press briefing did Carney say that Benghazi itself was a "phony attack."
Fox News is misrepresenting President Obama's position on surveillance and the threat of international terrorism to falsely accuse him of hypocrisy and fecklessness.
According to reports, the National Security Administration continues to collect metadata, including phone numbers and the duration of phone calls, from telephone providers, and works with Internet companies to mine data on user activity. The continuation of these programs, which were in place before President Obama took office, raises significant questions about the scope of surveillance powers established under the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
But rather than focus on legitimate questions, Fox's guests are misstating Obama's past positions in order to accuse him both of hypocrisy and of downplaying the continued threat of international terrorism. During an appearance on the June 7 edition of America's Newsroom, Rudy Giuliani offered this take:
The other problem you have here, Bill, this is, Obama is -- this is totally hypocritical for Obama. If Bush was doing this, if Mitt Romney following George Bush was doing this, it would be one thing.
Obama ran against all of this. He also ended war on terror couple weeks ago last time I checked. War on terror is over. So the war on terror is over. Right? If we don't have much of a threat anymore and we are going to up our surveillance of American citizens the incompetence of this administration is really impossible to catalog and describe.
Jamie Weinstein of the Daily Caller echoed Giuliani on Fox later that day, saying that the existence of surveillance programs "contradicts what [Obama] said on the campaign trail," adding, "and recently he said Al Qaeda is receding."
The reality is that Obama's position on surveillance is in line with the position he took during the 2008 general election. At the time, Obama cast a controversial vote in favor of a bill expanding the 1978 FISA law. Then-Sen. Obama explained his decision to do so by explicitly citing the need to continue surveillance programs:
In a dangerous world, government must have the authority to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people. But in a free society, that authority cannot be unlimited. As I've said many times, an independent monitor must watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people. This compromise law assures that the FISA court has that responsibility.
The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I'm persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe -- particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I've chosen to support the current compromise.
Obama faced criticism from civil liberties groups and progressive organizations for backing the bill, which The New York Times reported was "a major expansion of the government's surveillance powers." That vote was a shift from the position he took during the primary that year, as Obama had said he opposed controversial policies that the bill enshrined into law. In 2012, when Congress reauthorized the FISA Amendments, Obama announced that he "strongly supports" the bill that reauthorized the government's surveillance powers, which at the time were expiring. Obama also signed a 2011 extension of the Patriot Act, calling the law "an important tool for us to continue dealing with an ongoing terrorist threat."
Republicans leaders are reportedly concerned that the scandal machine that has been kicked into high gear in recent days will lead to similar backlash the party faced over its endless and costly investigations into President Clinton in the 1990s:
To veteran lawmakers, the sudden proliferation of investigations cannot help but raise the ghost of 1998. After seizing control of Congress in 1995, Republicans opened investigations into the White House Travel Office, allegations of malfeasance around the Whitewater Development Corporation, and claims of campaign finance improprieties in the 1996 presidential campaign. Representative Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana, famously shot a melon in trying to prove that the White House lawyer Vincent W. Foster Jr. did not commit suicide.
But it was the impeachment of Mr. Clinton that cost Republicans seats in the House, cost Newt Gingrich his job as House speaker, and ultimately lifted a moribund Democratic president from the political depths.
Right-wing media have been quick to invoke Whitewater, the real estate scandal that developed during Clinton's first term, as part of their endless quest to scandalize the Obama administration over the tragedy in Benghazi.
And reliance on shady Whitewater tactics - which involved leaking selectively edited transcripts to the media to push forth the scandal -- was on full display this past week, leading to a critical question: how will the media respond to the campaign of press manipulation?
CBS News reported on May 16 that Republican staffers have been selectively and deceptively leaking information to reporters in order to keep the Benghazi "scandal" alive. As Kevin Drum of Mother Jones explained:
So here's what happened. Republicans in Congress saw copies of these emails two months ago and did nothing with them. It was obvious that they showed little more than routine interagency haggling. Then, riding high after last week's Benghazi hearings, someone got the bright idea of leaking two isolated tidbits and mischaracterizing them in an effort to make the State Department look bad. Apparently they figured it was a twofer: they could stick a shiv into the belly of the White House and they could then badger them to release the entire email chain, knowing they never would.
ABC News, which initially reported that it had "obtained" the actual emails showing greater White House involvement editing the talking points than administration officials had acknowledged, was forced into a slippery acknowledgement that its "exclusive" report was based only on summaries of emails, a method of reporting that journalism experts called "highly problematic ethically" and "sloppy."
ABC's flawed reporting on the emails, based on selective leaks, has led to questions about reporter Jonathan Karl's future, vividly demonstrating the consequences of this type of press manipulation. But whether fellow journalists - and viewers - will demand accountability from Karl remains to be seen.
It's the Whitewater experience, which GOP leaders are reportedly skittish of repeating, that provides a blueprint for accountability over this type of press manipulation.
In the 1990s it was David Bossie, at the time an investigator for the House Government Reform and Oversight, who leaked selectively edited transcripts to the press in order to advance the scandal mongering of President Clinton. Bossie was reportedly fired for his role manipulating the press.
Will the media, which once again saw one of their own get burned by relying on selective leaks in furtherance of a hunting of a president, demand accountability this time?
Fox News is desperate.
The Roger Ailes scandal machine, watching its Benghazi witch hunt crumble all around it, is now trying to stoke outrage that President Obama downplayed the tragedy in Benghazi and insulted the survivors by calling it an "incident" during his May 16 comments to the press.
Here's Fox anchor Gregg Jarrett on the May 16 Happening Now reacting to comments Obama made on the Benghazi tragedy:
He referred to Benghazi as an incident, which I'm sure is an insult to the survivors and the family members of the four murdered Americans.
Got that? Obama, whom Fox figures have accused of letting Americans die for political gain, now stands accused of insulting the survivors by downgrading the tragedy to an "incident."
Except Obama also called Benghazi a tragedy in the very speech that triggered Jarrett's outrage:
We lost four brave Americans, patriots who accepted the risks that come with service because they know that their contributions are vital to our national interests and national security. I am intent on making sure that we do everything we can to prevent another tragedy like this from happening.
But that means we owe it to them and all who serve to do everything in our power to protect our personnel serving overseas. That's why at my direction we've been taking a series of steps that were recommended by the review board after the incident.
It is a fitting coda to Fox's months-long scandal mongering over the tragedy in Benghazi. Jarrett is deceptively attacking the president over comments he made in the Rose Garden, the very spot where Obama first labeled the attack an act of terror, comments that have been decontextualized and parsed endlessly to help promote the entire pseudo-scandal.
Fox's desperate attempt to breathe life back into the "scandal" comes days after the network's scandal machine began a campaign to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the president. This is how the voice of the opposition works. Turning Benghazi into Obama's Watergate is central to the Fox goal of bringing down the administration.
Which is why Fox is desperate to keep it going.
The right-wing's Benghazi witch hunt is turning its attention to Thomas Pickering, a career diplomat, and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, in a campaign to discredit their non-partisan report on the Benghazi attacks and push for a permanent, partisan investigation -- an investigation Republicans are actively using to raise money and campaign against Democrats.
Pickering and Mullen led the State Department Accountability Review Board, which in December issued its findings as to what went wrong in Benghazi, Libya, surrounding the September 11, 2012, attacks on a diplomatic facility that led to the deaths of four Americans. The Wall Street Journal reported in a May 12 article that Pickering and Mullen would be the next targets of the right-wing campaign to politicize those attacks:
House Republicans on Monday plan to take another step in a widening Benghazi investigation, by asking leaders of an independent review board to agree to be questioned about their investigation of last year's attacks in Libya.
The formal request, to be submitted in letters on Monday, comes as GOP lawmakers move to discredit the investigation by the Accountability Review Board, a panel appointed under federal law last year by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to size up the adequacy of U.S. security measures and preparations at the diplomatic mission that was overrun in the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist assault.
This move to discredit the Accountability Review Board and push for a permanent investigation comes after Victoria Toensing, a Republican lawyer who represented a "whistleblower" who on May 8 testified for the third time about the attacks, penned a Weekly Standard blog post challenging Pickering and Mullen's report:
The White House has touted the Accountability Review Board (ARB) investigation of the Benghazi massacre as a review "led by two men of unimpeachable expertise and credibility that oversaw a process that was rigorous and unsparing." In fact, the report was purposefully incomplete and willfully misleading.
The two men in charge of the ARB, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen, a diplomat and military man respectively, have no meaningful investigative experience. Instead of letting the facts lead the direction of the investigation, the report appears designed to protect the interests of Hillary Clinton, the State Department higher ups, and the president.
But Toensing's criticism, the foundation of the attacks on the ARB, itself is incomplete and misleading.
According to Toensing, a fatal flaw in Pickering and Mullen's investigation was their failure to interview then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pickering addressed that decision during a May 12 appearance on Meet the Press, saying that he did speak with Clinton and that the conversation was "more than sufficient for the preponderance of evidence that we had collected to make our decisions."
Toensing also built her call for further investigation on the discredited claim that the State Department's counterterrorism bureau was cut out of the decision-making process while the attacks were underway:
Mark Thompson, my husband's client, testified that he asked twice to be interviewed by the ARB and was not. Mr. Thompson was the deputy assistant secretary in charge of coordinating the deployment of a multi-agency team for hostage taking and terrorism attacks. Yet, he was excluded from all decisions, communications, and meetings on September 11 and 12, 2012. Why?
But during his May 8 Congressional testimony, Thompson, an assistant secretary of state for counterterrorism, acknowledged that the counterterrorism bureau was involved. That acknowledgement supports an earlier statement from the head of the State Department's Counterterrorism Bureau, who said: "at no time was the Bureau sidelined or otherwise kept from carrying out its tasks."
At this point, the indictment of Pickering and Mullen amounts to little more than criticizing the length of their conversations with Clinton and manufactured outrage over how far down the chain-of-command a meeting invite went.
These and other already answered questions are the basis of the right's continued push for yet another hearing. As the Wall Street Journal reported:
Interest in the Benghazi attacks was rekindled by a hearing last week in which the former No. 2 U.S. diplomat in Tripoli, Libya, testified about his experiences the night of the attacks. The diplomat, Gregory Hicks, testified as a whistleblower, criticizing administration statements in the first days after the attack that it had grown out of a demonstration.
As a result of Mr. Hicks's testimony, Republican lawmakers said Sunday that additional whistleblowers are likely to emerge. They also are pushing for the appointment of a special select committee to probe the attacks, bringing together investigations now under way at five different GOP-controlled panels.
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) has called the administration's response to Benghazi--including inaccurate "talking points" used as the basis for early public statements--a "coverup" and endorsed the idea of a select committee, as did Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.). Mr. Inhofe predicted last week that the Benghazi investigation would lead to an impeachment debate.
A hint as to why the right continues to ask questions that have already been answered came May 10 with the revelation that Republicans were using the endless Benghazi investigations to raise money. Benghazi is more than just a fundraising opportunity for the right. It's also, and perhaps more importantly, an early attack on Hillary Clinton in advance of the 2016 election cycle, a fact driven home by conservative ads pivoting off Benghazi and by Fox News' graphics team:
In coverage of a May 8 House Oversight Committee hearing, conservatives are pushing new myths about the Obama administration's response to the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Here is the truth about what really happened.
ABC News is buying into right-wing scandal mongering over the tragic September 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, with an "exclusive" report that doesn't stand up to minimal scrutiny, with flaws that are being used by the right to call for a major investigation.
The so-called "exclusive" report, posted at ABCNews.com, purports to uncover dramatic new developments in the right wing's Benghazi witch hunt, but in reality it is little more than a rehash of previously covered debates over whose input was given to the early draft of intelligence talking points put together in the early days of the investigation into the attacks. None of this largely rehashed debate disproves what Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified in November: that the intelligence community signed off on the final draft of the talking points, and that references to terrorist groups in Libya were removed in order to avoid tipping off those groups.
The May 10 ABC News report focuses on the much discussed CIA talking points that were prepared in the days immediately after the September 11, 2012, attack, and which were used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in her appearance on several news programs to discuss those attacks. Nothing in the ABC News report focuses on the actual events of September 11, 2012, only on the editing process of a talking points memo and what information should be made available for public dissemination during an ongoing investigation into a terrorist attack:
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
Karl goes on to explore whether this disproves comments White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made in late November 2012, more than 2 months after the attack, about the role the White House and the State Department played in editing the final version of those talking points; whether the editing process proves that the White House was engaged in an effort to downplay the role of terrorism in its public statements immediately after the attack; and whether the editing process proves that the talking points were scrubbed of references to terror solely for political reasons.
Karl's report feeds into the right-wing conspiracy mongering over the Benghazi attacks and the desperate campaign to fabricate a cover-up. Friday morning, Fox News hosts cited the report as evidence that a major investigation was needed.
Yet Karl's speculation is easily disproved.
The entirety of the ABC News report focuses on emails that lay out the process of drafting the intelligence community's talking points and the debate over whether to include references to terrorist groups, and whether those references were "scrubbed" to cover up failures at the State Department. What Karl doesn't point out is that the former head of the CIA said that this is not the case. After Petraeus gave closed-door testimony before congressional leaders in November, The New York Times reported:
David H. Petraeus, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told lawmakers on Friday that classified intelligence reports revealed that the deadly assault on the American diplomatic mission in Libya was a terrorist attack, but that the administration refrained from saying it suspected that the perpetrators of the attack were Al Qaeda affiliates and sympathizers to avoid tipping off the groups.
Mr. Petraeus, who resigned last week after admitting to an extramarital affair, said the names of groups suspected in the attack -- including Al Qaeda's franchise in North Africa and a local Libyan group, Ansar al-Shariah -- were removed from the public explanation of the attack immediately after the assault to avoiding alerting the militants that American intelligence and law enforcement agencies were tracking them, lawmakers said.
Karl also forwards the notion that the White House was aggressively trying to downplay the role that terrorism played for political reasons while the President was calling the attacks an act of terror at the same time. In his first public comments after the attack, President Obama very clearly referred to the attack as an act of terror. One day later, Obama again referred to the Benghazi attacks as an act of terror. Those comments came September 12 and September 13. Yet Karl implies that edits to a document that were made on September 14, after Obama had already labeled the attack an act of terror, demonstrate that the administration was trying to downplay the role that terror played.
This leaves Karl with the "exclusive" that emails weighing in on early drafts of the talking points amounts to a contradiction with comments Carney made in November:
"Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC's best assessments of what they thought had happened," Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. "The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word 'consulate' to 'diplomatic facility' because 'consulate' was inaccurate."
But as Carney notes in comments printed at the end of the ABC News report, there has never been a question that multiple agencies had input into the formation of the talking points, which in the end were drafted by the intelligence community:
"The CIA drafted these talking points and redrafted these talking points," Carney said. "The fact that there are inputs is always the case in a process like this, but the only edits made by anyone here at the White House were stylistic and nonsubstantive. They corrected the description of the building or the facility in Benghazi from consulate to diplomatic facility and the like. And ultimately, this all has been discussed and reviewed and provided in enormous levels of detail by the administration to Congressional investigators, and the attempt to politicize the talking points, again, is part of an effort to, you know, chase after what isn't the substance here."
ABC is left with a major exclusive dissecting the distinction between input and editing.