Network Sunday Shows Ignore Capture Of Benghazi Suspect
When Good News Is No News For Obama
Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT
We may have finally uncovered the answer to the lingering question of what it would take for Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace to not host a discussion about Benghazi. The solution: Have U.S. Special Operations forces capture the lead suspect in the 2012 terror attack.
The news of Ahmed Abu Khattala's capture broke on June 17, and was immediately tagged by the Washington Post as "a significant breakthrough" for the Obama administration, which has been subjected to constant carping and endless harangues from Fox News talkers demanding that Benghazi terrorists be brought to justice. But when the administration made advances in doing just that, Fox attacked them over the timing of the capture for much of the week, and then Wallace turned away on Sunday.
Ordinarily, you'd think any key development in the on-going investigation would be of interest to Fox News Sunday, which, according to an archives search at Nexis, has hosted nearly 100 discussions over the last 20 months where "Benghazi" was mentioned at least three times, and more than two dozen segments just this year. But news of a suspect's apprehension and the possibility he'll soon be facing justice in a U.S. courtroom and held accountable for the deaths of four Americans? That apparently wasn't worth covering on Sunday.
Because, as is so often the case for President Obama, good news is no news.
And it wasn't just Fox News this time. Across the dial on Sunday, every broadcast network political show -- which are credited with setting the public agenda debate inside the Beltway -- failed to address the news about the Benghazi suspect. It was news that reflected positively on the Obama administration. It was news that the Republican Party did not seem happy about. And it was news that the Sunday shows deemed to be un-newsworthy.
Last week I noted the capture of Abu Khattala pulled back the curtain on the right-wing media and exposed how its caterwauling about Benghazi has virtually nothing to do with seeking the facts or justice for slain Americans. Instead, it has morphed into a catch-all phrase to attack a Democratic president.
After the Sunday morning news blackout, I think Abu Khattala's capture pulled back the curtain on the mainstream press as well: The Beltway press only seems to be interested in the Benghazi controversy when Republicans are accusing the administration of wrongdoing or fantasizing about an impeachable cover-up.
As mentioned, Fox News Sunday has aired nearly 100 Benghazi discussions since September 2012. The remaining three Sunday programs, ABC's This Week, CBS's Face The Nation, and NBC's Meet The Press, are not far behind. Combined, they've addressed Benghazi in detail approximately 100 times. But nothing this week about the U.S. success.
The amazing part? Meet The Press actually hosted a lengthy discussion about Benghazi, just not about the good news surrounding the covert raid. Instead, host David Gregory announced that in his interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the Republican issued "a warning that Benghazi could harm a Hillary Clinton presidential run."
See, that's what passes for news: A turnstile of Republicans lobbing unsubstantiated, partisan attacks about Benghazi. Actual news from Benghazi? Not so much.
Worse, as Media Matters noted, Gregory then sat quietly while Paul regurgitated long-debunked Republican talking points about how Hillary Clinton as secretary of state had personally refused to increase security at the Benghazi diplomatic facility. It never dawned on Gregory to ask Paul about the key capture of a Benghazi suspect.
Another Meet The Press oddity came when Chuck Todd announced, "At times, it doesn't seem like anything has gone right in this region for the administration, from Benghazi to the civil war in Syria, the uprisings in Egypt, threat of nuclear Iran, trying to end the war in Afghanistan, and three failed Mideast peace process attempts."
Five days after news broke that American forces had successfully caught a possible Benghazi terrorist, Todd told NBC viewers that Benghazi remains an example of how nothing goes right for Obama?
One last important point: Not only did Abu Khattala's arrest and indictment undercut the right-wing claim that the administration isn't holding anyone accountable for the Benghazi attack, it severely damaged the time-honored Fox News claim that the White House lied when it initially suggested a Western, anti-Islam video posted on YouTube may have sparked the violence in Libya. Like all of the Benghazi attacks and smears, that allegation has been endlessly dissected and discussed in the mainstream press.
So what did Abu Khattala reportedly tell Libyans the night of the deadly attack? "He was moved to attack the diplomatic mission to take revenge for an insult to Islam in an American-made online video," according to The New York Times.
But again, good news is no news for Obama.