A new report by the House Intelligence Committee reportedly concluded that there was no intentional wrongdoing in how the Obama administration responded to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi. After two years and countless independent investigations, when will Fox News finally end its nonstop scandal-mongering?
From the August 5 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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Fox News has gone silent on Benghazi amid reports that the House Intelligence Committee concluded that there was no intentional wrongdoing in the Obama administration's response to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on August 1 that the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted to declassify findings from its investigation into the 2012 attacks on U.S diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, and "concluded that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the 2012 attack," according to committee member Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA).
The intelligence community "did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened," the process used to create administration talking points was "flawed" but "reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis, and "there was no 'stand-down order' given to American personnel," Ranking Member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-CA) said in a statement laying out the committee's findings.
It's a clinical, point-by-point refutation of the Benghazi hoax Fox has pushed for nearly 2 years.
Yet Fox News made no mention of the report on Monday.* In sharp contrast to its current silence, when House Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of a select committee to investigate Benghazi in June, Fox devoted at least 225 segments to the topic over just two weeks, an estimated publicity value of more than $124 million.
As the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report further dismantles the right-wing's Benghazi hoax, will media keep legitimizing House Republicans' repetitious select committee on the attacks?
Less than two months before Rep. Trey Gowdy's (R-SC) House Select Committee is set to begin its Benghazi hearings, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on July 31 to declassify its report on the deadly 2012 attacks on American facilities. The committee found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Obama administration, confirming "that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given," as committee member Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) explained. Ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) stressed that the "bipartisan, factual," and "definitive" report found no evidence of a scandal involving the intelligence community's talking points on the attacks:
This report shows that there was no intelligence failure surrounding the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans. Our investigation found the Intelligence Community warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened, Americans which is consistent with testimony that the attacks appeared to be opportunistic. It also found that a mixed group of individuals including those associated with Al-Qaeda, Qadafi loyalists and other Libyan militias participated in the attack. Additionally, the report shows there was no "stand down order" given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, and no American was left behind.
The report also shows that the process used to develop the talking points was flawed, but that the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis. Finally, the report demonstrates that there was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the Intelligence Community's assessments were politically motivated in any way.
The House Intelligence Committee report joins previous Benghazi investigations by the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board (ARB), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee which have repeatedly debunked right-wing Benghazi myths that have persisted since the attacks, including the falsehood that a "stand down" order was given to troops stationed in Tripoli and the myth that the administration lied about the attacks having been caused by an anti-Islam YouTube video.
The findings present a new challenge for media outlets in the runup to Gowdy's Benghazi select committee, explicitly formed to investigate "unanswered questions" that previous Benghazi investigations have long-since asked and answered. When House Republicans announced plans to form the committee in May, many in the media presented Gowdy's premise of "unanswered questions" as legitimate.
CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger told CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello in a May 9 discussion on Gowdy's select committee that "there are a lot of unanswered questions" on Benghazi, and on the May 21 edition of the program, Wolf Blitzer conceded to Republican myths on the attacks (emphasis added, via Nexis):
BLITZER: I think the major question that the Republicans want answered is, people at the White House, what was their direct involvement from the president, the vice president, the national security adviser and others on down. They've gotten a lot of information from what was going on at the State Department. They've gotten a lot of documents and information, what was going on at the U.S. military, the Pentagon, the Africa command and other U.S. military operations in the intelligence community, they've gotten significant information. But the Republicans believe there's still a lot of information out there that the administration has not made available, specifically information as to what the White House was doing, what the president of the United States specifically was doing. That's what they say they want, and that's presumably what they're hoping to get in the course of the select committee hearings.
Blitzer further legitimized the select committee on May 22, pressing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on why Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi the day of the attack and suggesting the committee could find an answer to this already-answered question.
Now, the House Intelligence Committee's finding that there was no intentional wrongdoing on the part of the administration in the Benghazi attacks adds to a pile of overwhelming evidence against the right-wing's Benghazi hoax. Will it finally be enough to convince the media to stop taking Gowdy and his misguided Benghazi witch-hunt seriously?
From the July 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News' Adam Housley suddenly flipped his own network's script, calling the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala not "that big of a deal," and accused the White House of embellishing his role in the deadly Benghazi attacks -- a report that's inconsistent with other Fox News reports naming Khatalla as a key suspect.
American forces apprehended Khattala in Libya on June 15. When the news broke on June 17, Fox News quickly reported the top militia leader's arrest. Then on June 27, Khattala went from a top terrorism leader to small potatoes.
Fox News diminished Khattala's capture, suggesting the militia leader was small time and the Obama administration is ignoring "actionable intelligence" on larger suspects. On the June 27 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox correspondent Adam Housley reported that Khattala's capture "wasn't that big of a deal at all," because Khattala was considered by officials to be "low-hanging fruit." Housley capitalized on diminishing Khattala's profile in order to criticize President Obama for failing to follow through on his "promise to stay focused on hunting down those responsible for the 2012 attack.":
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.
NBC's David Gregory pointed a series of questions about Hillary Clinton's role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), allowing Paul to attack Clinton with the long-debunked smear that she was aware of the need for additional security forces at the Benghazi compound yet denied the requests.
On the June 22 edition of NBC's Meet The Press, host David Gregory posed a series of questions on Hillary Clinton's role in the 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, but failed to correct Sen. Paul's false smears that Clinton refused requested security. While discussing the possibility of Clinton running for president in 2016, Gregory asked Sen. Paul about whether "the prosecution of foreign policy," is "the main argument" against Clinton's candidacy. In his response, Paul invoked the debunked myth that Hillary Clinton refused "multiple requests for more security" in the months leading up the attacks.
Later in the interview, Gregory asked whether Benghazi is "disqualifying" for Clinton's potential 2016 candidacy, again allowing Sen. Paul to claim that Clinton "was not responsive to multiple requests for more security." Paul concluded that the American people "want a commander in chief that will send reinforcements, that will defend the country, and that will provide the adequate security," implying for a third time that Clinton refused security she knew was necessary to the Benghazi compound:
Fox contributor Lauren Ashburn complained that "it's just not fair" for critics to hold Fox News accountable for any misinformation and biased commentary made on-air by the network's paid hosts and contributors, suggesting the network shouldn't be held responsible for a recent conspiracy theory about the timing of Benghazi suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala's capture, which originated on Fox.
Khattala was taken into U.S. custody on June 17 for his role in helping lead the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Fox News hosts and correspondents began immediately questioning the curious timing of Khattala's capture, speculating that it was intended to help Hillary Clinton's book tour and Fox News interview, ignoring the months of planning and preparation spent prior to Khattala's capture. The network even attempted to legitimize its hosts' conspiracy theories by pretending the speculation originated outside of the network.
On the June 22 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz, Ashburn defended her network, complaining "it's just not fair" for critics to hold Fox News accountable for the conspiracy theories pushed by its hosts and contributors on-air if their commentary isn't an official statement from the network. Discussing criticisms the network received for questioning the timing of the Benghazi suspect's capture, Ashburn said, "the more outlandish the comments, the more the websites are going to say 'oh my gosh, Fox News said this, and they made this point,' and it's funny because Fox News didn't say that, those individual contributors said that." Ashburn concluded "it's just not fair to do that":
From the June 18 edition of MSNBC's PoliticsNation:
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Fox News reverted to long debunked Benghazi myths to attack Hillary Clinton for her Tuesday interview on Fox, during which she stood by the fact that intelligence at the time linked the Benghazi terror attacks to an inflammatory anti-Islam video.
On the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade discussed the interview, criticizing Clinton for standing by "the administration mantra" that the 2012 Benghazi attacks were linked to the inflammatory anti-Islam video. Kilmeade argued that Clinton defended the link despite the fact that former CIA acting deputy director Mike Morell said that there was "no way" the attacks had "anything to do with the video," while Doocy accused the administration of pushing the video link to protect the administration "in advance of an election." Baier followed suit on America's Newsroom, criticizing Clinton for asserting "the fact that a video was a part of the situation on the ground in Benghazi":
Fox News attempted to legitimize its hosts' conspiracy theory that the timing of Ahmed Abu Khattala's capture was "curious" by pretending the speculation originated outside the network.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was taken into U.S. custody on June 17 for his role in helping lead the 2012 attacks on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Immediately, Fox anchors questioned the "curious timing" of Khattala's capture, speculating that it was intended to help President Obama in the polls or to give Hillary Clinton a good headline for an upcoming Fox News interview. After the breaking report on Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott pointed out that Khattala had given media interviews before his capture, and said the "obvious question" is "why now?" Minutes later on Outnumbered, the hosts called the arrest "too neat" and "too cute," speculating that it was timed to be "a great thing to announce" during Clinton's Fox interview.
On June 18, Fox hosts concealed that the speculation of "curious timing" began on their own network, noting that "some" people had made serious claims that the timing looked suspicious without identifying the origin. On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy spouted:
It was yesterday that it was announced that we finally went in and got him. And to some, they said, 'Now isn't that curious timing? The same day that Hillary Clinton is showing up on Fox News, they are able to announce we got the bad guy.'
"Good news there, I guess." Fox News anchor Jon Scott, June 17.
Word that U.S. Special Operations forces had captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspected leader of the terror attack on the United States diplomatic facilities in Benghazi two years ago, provided good news for those seeking justice for the four Americans killed in the 2012 raid. The reports however, provided very bad news for people who have been playing politics with the terror attack for the last 21 months.
Indeed, the Benghazi revelation and the instantly negative and mocking reaction it received on Fox News and across the right-wing media landscape, provided a telling glimpse into the propaganda campaign conducted by professional conservative talkers who long ago stopped pursuing the facts of the investigation. Instead, they've tried to turn "Benghazi" into a brand; a self-sustaining scandal machine reminiscent of the one they built to distract Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The goal of these types of blind pursuits doesn't revolve around the truth or facts, but around the ability to attack, attack, attack, regardless of good-news revelations.
So instead of toasting Khattala's capture in Libya as a key breakthrough, the news quickly became reason to add more layers to the impenetrable Benghazi conspiracy. (Either that or to feign indifference.) The claim this time? The timing of the arrest looked fake and phony. Specifically, the Benghazi capture was timed to help Hillary Clinton's book tour 5,000 miles away in America.
"What a great thing to announce on an interview tonight at Fox News, that the perpetrators have been bought to justice," said Fox contributor Pete Hegseth. "It's all too neat and it's too cute." Added Fox host Kennedy: "You have a former secretary of state, who is in the middle of a really high profile book tour, I think this is convenient for her to shift the talking points from some of the things she has been discussing."
Rush Limbaugh mocked the timing as "a beautiful thing."
This kind of contemptuous, dismissive tone is exactly the opposite of what Obama's fevered critics had been demanding since September, 2012.
"May 2014, and you still haven't brought anyone to justice!" Judge Jeanine Pirro complained on her Fox News program just last month. Fox's Eric Bolling, denouncing the lack of detained Benghazi suspects on The Five, July 31, 2013: "Nice job, President O, no suspects, no interviews, no leads, and no answers." And Fox contributor Allen West signed on to a letter bemoaning the fact that "not a single terrorist in this well-planned and executed military attack by radical Islamists has been apprehended."
So it was Fox News, then: Bring suspects to justice!
And Fox News, today: Why now?
During Fox News' interview with Hillary Clinton, Bret Baier rehashed an already-answered question about whether or not the former secretary of state had been in contact with then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta the night of the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, despite a House committee determining months ago there was no evidence that Clinton had done so.
Baier and fellow Fox host Greta Van Susteren interviewed Clinton on June 17 as part of her tour for her new book, Hard Choices. Baier focused much of his questioning on the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, asking Clinton whether or not she had spoken with Panetta the night of the attack:
BAIER: Did you talk to Secretary Panetta that night?
CLINTON: I talked with [then-CIA] Director [David] Petraeus. I talked on a video -- secure video conference with a full array of officials. I knew because I had talked with the National Security Adviser, Tom Donilon, that Secretary Panetta and [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General [Martin] Dempsey were doing everything they could. We had open lines.
BAIER: You didn't speak to him that night?
CLINTON: I didn't. You know, I can't recall. I know that the Defense Department was in the room in the video conference that I held.
This isn't the first time Fox has pushed the false claim that Clinton spoke to Panetta the night of the Benghazi attack. The network hasrepeatedly speculated that a "stand down order" had been issued the night of the attacks on Benghazi, often linking that false claim to Clinton or Panetta.
However, a February 2014 report on the Benghazi Investigation from the House Armed Services Committee definitively found that Clinton did not communicate with Panetta on September 11, 2012, during the attacks on Benghazi:
"[A]s to specifics" of the U.S. reaction, Secretary Panetta testified to the Senate that the President "left that up to us." Secretary Panetta said the President was "well informed" about events and worried about American lives. He and General Dempsey also testified they had no further contact with the President, nor did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ever communicate with them that evening.
Nearly 40 percent of Fox News' interview of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was devoted to the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, worth over $2 million in publicity value.
On June 17, Fox anchors Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren interviewed Clinton during her book tour for her new memoir, Hard Choices. Baier started the interview by asking Clinton about the capture earlier that day of a suspect in the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities and focused on Benghazi for most of his questions.
According to a Media Matters analysis, Baier devoted 12 minutes and 16 seconds to questioning Clinton about Benghazi during the interview -- 38 percent of the total interview, which was 32 minutes and 10 seconds long. According to TVEyes' "national publicity value," the time Fox News devoted to Benghazi during the interview carried a value of approximately $2,169,986.34.
Previously, Media Matters found that just two weeks of Fox's obsessive Benghazi coverage in early May was worth over $124 million. TVEyes Media Monitoring Suite, a subscription-only database of television broadcasts, estimates the value of 30-second slots on any given program. Fox's June 17 interview with Clinton was estimated at $88,450.53 per 30 seconds.