Right-wing media figures are claiming that President Obama failed to answer a press conference question about whether he had issued an order to protect those under attack at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11. But Obama did respond to the question, saying that he ordered his national security team to do whatever was necessary to keep Americans at the compound safe.
Obama Says He Ordered National Security Team To Protect Americans In Benghazi
Obama: "My Orders" Were "Do Whatever We Need To Do To Make Sure They're Safe." During a November 14 press conference, Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry asked Obama to address "the families of these four Americans who were killed" in the Benghazi attack. Henry asked, "On 9/11, as Commander-in-Chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?" Obama replied, in part:
THE PRESIDENT: [A]s I've said repeatedly, if people don't think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who I sent there and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the United States, then you don't know how our Defense Department thinks or our State Department thinks or our CIA thinks. Their number-one priority is obviously to protect American lives. That's what our job is. Now --
THE PRESIDENT: Ed, I will put forward every bit of information that we have. I can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my national security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they're safe. And that's the same order that I would give any time that I see Americans are in danger, whether they're civilian or military, because that's our number-one priority. [WhiteHouse.gov, 11/14/12, emphasis added]
Yet Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Obama Didn't Answer Benghazi Question
Limbaugh: Obama "Won't Answer" Henry's Question. On the November 14 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh played audio of Henry questioning Obama at the press conference. Limbaugh aired a truncated version of Obama's response, which did not include his words about his "orders to my national security team." Limbaugh then said, "That's a pretty simple question. ... And [Obama] won't answer it. How easy would it be to say yes?" [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/14/12]
Fox's Doocy Claimed "Some On The Right Would Say" Obama Didn't Answer Henry's Question -- And Then Aired Obama's Response. On the November 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said of Obama's press conference: "Ed Henry, I think, pound for pound asked the best question of the day regarding Benghazi. And the president, of course -- some on the right would say, did not answer. He deflected."
The following on-screen text was aired later in the segment:
Immediately after Doocy's comments, video showing Henry's question and Obama's response aired. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/15/12]
Fox's Jarrett Claimed Obama "Refused To Say If He Issued An Immediate Order To Help Those Under Attack," But Later Read Obama's Answer Aloud. During an interview with Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) on the November 15 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, guest host Gregg Jarrett claimed that Obama "offered almost no information yesterday in the news conference on Benghazi" and that he "refused to say if he issued an immediate order to help those under attack." Yet Jarrett later read Obama's response to Henry's question: "I'll quote the president. This is about the only thing he did say of substance. 'My orders were to do whatever we need to do to make sure they're safe.' " [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 11/15/12]