Several local media outlets published editorials and opinion pieces highlighting and praising CBS' faulty 60 Minutes Benghazi report. Now that CBS has apologized and withdrawn its report, will local media follow suit?
On October 27, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a report highlighting comments from security officer Dylan Davies, who went by the pseudonym "Morgan Jones" and said that he was an eyewitness to the September 12, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. After several inconsistencies surfaced in Davies' statements about the evening, CBS pulled its report, apologized to viewers, and said it would "correct the record" on the next edition of 60 Minutes.
Immediately following the 60 Minutes report, various local media outlets across the country published editorial and opinion pieces hyping the report and heralding it as evidence that President Obama and his administration were lying about the attacks. At least six local media outlets, including The Columbus Dispatch, The New Hampshire Union Leader, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Washington Times, The Charleston Post and Courier, and The Boston Herald, all hyped the CBS report with one outlet calling it a "damning report" while another said the administration's "coverup [is] being exposed." Pittsburgh Press writer Jack Kelly published a piece in the Post-Gazette claiming the report was "noteworthy for the new information provided -- in particular the interviews with 'Morgan Jones' and [Lt.] Col. [Andrew] Wood."
The 60 Minutes report reinvigorated the widely debunked myth that there are "lingering questions" about the Benghazi attack and continued to push a right-wing media narrative that the Obama administration has engaged in a cover-up in response to the attacks. The pervasiveness of the myth even hit Congress as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to hold up presidential nominations until questions surrounding Benghazi were answered.
Now that CBS has retracted its report, will local media outlets who also injected this misleading myth into their opinion pages do the same, or will they continue to rely on debunked information that misleads their readers?
Fox News accused MA Gov. Deval Patrick of "playing politics" by refusing to release details of welfare benefits reportedly used by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. But as Patrick has noted, state and federal law prevents the release of this information.
On April 24, an article in the right-leaning Boston Herald reported that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects had received some government assistance as children and that deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev's family received some welfare benefits until 2012. The paper later reported that Massachusetts state officials had "clamped down the lid" on the Herald's requests for more details on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's government benefits.
Fox hosts seized on this to criticize Gov. Patrick on the April 26 edition of Fox & Friends. Co-host Steve Doocy said that "the governor told all the state agencies to clam up" and on-air text asked if Patrick is "playing politics."
Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson said:
CARLSON: Well, apparently Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts won't exactly explain what taxpayer assistance the bombers actually received because he says it's a matter of protecting their personal privacy. Well, that's interesting because one of those suspects is dead, and so what kind of personal privacy would be at hand to not be able to at least release what should be public knowledge if the taxpayers actually were financing these two people and their families for the last 10 years.
Fox failed to note that state and federal laws prohibit the government officials from releasing such information, a fact that Patrick had pointed out after facing questions about why the government had not released more details. On April 25, the Boston Herald reported:
Gov. Deval Patrick defended his administration's refusal to release financial aid, welfare, unemployment and other information about the suspected Boston Marathon bombers today.
"It's not about a right to privacy, it's about abiding by the law," said Patrick in Jamaica Plain today. "We'll do what we can do within the law. I'm curious, too. I understand people's curiosity."
Patrick added that he would be "happy" to release whatever information the law allows.
The Associated Press reported that the Massachusetts welfare agency later acknowledged that it had been a "mistake" to release the information to the media, saying it "inappropriately confirmed" media inquiries on the issue. The agency further stated: "Disclosing such information is not allowed by law. Regardless of the circumstances, we are obligated to follow state and federal law."
Media coverage of the debt ceiling frequently claims that raising the limit without simultaneous spending cuts would give President Obama a "blank check," repeating a pattern of promoting this false narrative -- or failing to correct it -- that occurred during the unprecedented brinkmanship of 2011. The phrase implies that the debt ceiling governs additional spending desired by the White House, when in fact it is a restriction on the executive branch's ability to borrow money to pay for spending measures already enacted by Congress.
After four years of unprecedented personal attacks and hateful rhetoric, it was a given that the homestretch of President Obama's re-election campaign would be clouded by right-wing media ugliness, and that wild, odious allegations would be their calling card.
The Benghazi story, or specifically the one the GOP Noise Machine is committed to tell about the September 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, perfectly captures the fevered Obama hatred that conservatives have carried throughout his first term. And it's a story they seem desperate to broadcast during the final weeks of the campaign.
The upsetting national security news from Libya, the kind that has been spared this level of politicization in the past, is now being used as a vehicle for conservatives to spin their ugliest fantasies about the president and to depict him as heartless traitor who chose to let Americans die at the hands of Islamic terrorists.
This is the natural culmination of four years worth of Obama Derangement Syndrome.
Benghazi has entered the realm of churning, right-wing myth making. (Think Waco and Vince Foster). The story has become completely detached from reality, and the twisted narrative feeds off itself with constant misinformation that's repeatedly presented as 'fact.' This process is powered by Fox News and the burning desire within the GOP Noise Machine to portray Obama as a monster who is at war with the United States.
A recent column in the conservative Boston Herald almost perfectly captured the important role the Benghazi story plays within the Obama-hating community. Benghazi allegedly proves Obama is "cowardly" and "dishonest" and that he lacks "integrity" as well as "competence," and has a "reflexive impulse to blame, rather than defend, America."
Keep in mind that while there is a government investigation underway to determine what mistakes were made guarding the consulate, there's no evidence that Obama himself did anything wrong in connection to the Benghazi attack.
But the desire is so strong among his critics to paint the president in the most dastardly way possible (so close to the election), that Obama's role has been super-sized, fictionalized, and pushed to the forefront, so that he stars as the villain in a right-wing production about a treasonous president.
The right-wing media have declared that Fox News contributor Sarah Palin was indeed correct when she claimed that "part of Paul Revere's ride" involved "ringing...bells," "send[ing]...warning shots" and "warn[ing] the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms." In fact, Revere's "warning" to the British occurred after he was captured and was not the purpose of his ride.
A conservative newspaper, the Herald was once owned – SURPRISE – by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
I wonder if Fox News Channel will do the right thing and confess to its own "cheerleading" for Brown.
From the January 24 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Following Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that a federal prosecutor will be conducting "a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated" during interrogations of detainees suspected of terrorism, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) asserted that the investigation would be a "declaration of war against the CIA, and against common sense." Several conservative media figures have similarly advanced the claim that by looking into interrogation abuses, the Obama administration or the Justice Department has "declared war" on the CIA.
In a Boston Herald column, Michael Graham repeated the falsehood that union autoworkers have "$78-per-hour jobs." In fact, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to U.S. automakers -- a cost that GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.
On January 17, InsightMag.com posted a story stating that Sen. Barack Obama attended a madrassa as a boy and that this information had originated from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's camp. With the aid of the conservative media, InsightMag.com's anonymously sourced report turned into 11 days of baseless accusations against two leading contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Since the Democratic Party won control of both the House and the Senate, the media have focused on such issues as Pelosi's choice of attire and whether being female will affect her ability to lead. MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer wondered if Pelosi's "personal feelings [were] getting in the way of effective leadership" -- a problem she suggested would not surface in "men-run leadership posts" -- and whether men were "more capable of taking personality clashes."
Newspaper editorial boards have responded with a variety of opinions to the Mark Foley scandal, from calling for -- or opposing -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert's resignation to noting the "rank hypocrisy" of Republican leaders to referring to the Republicans' attempt to use a "gay scapegoat."