New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is mischaracterizing the aftermath of the September attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in an effort to promote her claim that Hillary Clinton's aides engaged in "obfuscation."
In her May 12 column, Dowd writes that Gregory Hicks, who was deputy chief of mission in Libya during the attacks and testified before Congress May 8, "believes he was demoted because he spoke up" about the Obama administration's characterization of the attacks in a meeting with Beth Jones, an undersecretary of state.
In fact, Hicks' change of position came after he voluntarily decided not to return to Libya; he subsequently testified that the "overriding factor" in that decision was that his family didn't want him to go back. According to the State Department, that decision took him out of the regular cycle in which Foreign Service officers are assigned, resulting in him being placed in a temporary position as a foreign affairs officer in the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs. According to State, Hicks retains the same rank and pay, and has submitted a preference list and is under consideration for his next assignment.
Dowd further claimed:
Hillary's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, also called Hicks to angrily ask why a State Department lawyer had not been allowed to monitor every meeting in Libya with Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who visited in October. (The lawyer did not have the proper security clearance for one meeting.) Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, has been a rabid Hillary critic on Fox News since the attack. Hicks said he had never before been scolded for talking to a lawmaker.
But Hicks himself never described Mills as angry. In his testimony, Hicks acknowledged that Mills had offered no "direct criticism" of his actions, but cited the "tone and nuance" of Mills' voice during their conversation as indicating she was "unhappy" (Hicks later repeated a congressional Republican's description of Hicks as "upset.")
In painting this as part of a pattern of obfuscation, Dowd also ignored the administration's explanation for why Mills would have wanted a State Department lawyer present for Hicks' meeting with Chaffetz - a State Department official told Dowd's paperthat department policy requires one to be present during interviews for Congressional investigations.
Dowd's commentary follows that of Fox News hosts who have baselessly described Hicks as being "excoriated," "reprimanded," or "punished" by Mills - a characterization promoted by the false frame that Congressional Republicans pushed in their questioning of Hicks.
A member of the independent panel that reviewed the September attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya is calling attempts by Fox News and congressional Republicans to blame Hillary Clinton for the deaths of U.S. personnel "total bullshit."
Fox News has been promoting Republican attacks blaming Hillary Clinton for security cutbacks prior to the September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. But Richard Shinnick, a member of the five-person State Department Accountability Review Board that reviewed the Benghazi attacks last fall, says such claims are unfounded.
"Hillary Clinton was never in the loop for that," said Shinnick, a former 27-year foreign services officer. "It just doesn't make any sense to anybody who understands the State Department. They all know that the Secretary of State was never in that chain of responding to Benghazi, it just wasn't so."
On April 25, the Republican chairmen of five House committees released a report that stated Clinton's congressional testimony that she was unaware of requests for additional security at the Benghazi compound was false, citing a cable signed by Clinton that responded to one such request by calling for security cuts. Fox News, which has frequently harped on the Benghazi attack to criticize the Obama administration, quickly promoted the GOP attacks, calling them a "Benghazi Bombshell."
The Republican report specifically criticized the Accountability Review Board for failing to criticize Clinton:
The Board's finding regarding the security decisions in Benghazi, however, was limited to Diplomatic Security professionals and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. The Committees' review shows that the leadership failure in relation to security and policy in Benghazi extended to the highest levels of the State Department, including Secretary Clinton.
But Shinnick says the claim that Clinton's signature on the cable indicates her involvement misrepresents how the State Department operates. He said many directives and orders come through that office without the secretary personally reviewing each.
"Every single cable going out is signed 'Clinton,' it is the normal procedure," Shinnick said. "Millions of cables come into the operation center every year, not thousands, millions. And they are all addressed Hillary Clinton."
"So you can make a story that Hillary saw a cable and didn't act on it or sent a cable out; it's all bullshit, it's all total bullshit," Shinnick stressed. "I can't be any clearer than that. I read those stories and fortunately or unfortunately the people on the ARB understood that. If you don't want to believe that, then go chase a story."
Fox & Friends used a 60 Minutes interview to reanimate the Fox smear campaign to relentlessly mock Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and accuse her of fabricating a concussion to get out of testifying before the U.S. Senate about the tragic September terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade pointed to Clinton's joint interview on 60 Minutes with President Barack Obama and criticized CBS' Steve Kroft for not digging deeper into Clinton's December health issues. During the interview, Kroft asked Clinton about her health and recovery.
Clinton reportedly suffered a concussion after fainting in December, a result of dehydration. Fox News came under fire after the organization led a campaign to cast doubt on whether Clinton was faking her concussion.
At least most of them aren't snickering about the blood clot.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was recently hospitalized after doctors found a blood clot in her head, a condition that ABC News reported was "potentially 'life-threatening.'" The hospitalization came in the wake of the news in December that Clinton had suffered a concussion after catching a virus, becoming dehydrated, and fainting.
The news of Clinton's blood clot condition simply highlighted the cavalier and uncaring way her critics reacted to the concussion news, insisting it was fabricated to keep her from testifying before Congress about the terrorist attack in Benghazi. But the blood clot disclosure has done little to spark introspection or remorse among her detractors.
Maybe they're still busy laughing about Clinton's head trauma?
It's true. That story was marked by an unusual amount of laughter and merriment among conservatives. It's not often (ever?) that news of a United States cabinet member suffering a concussion elicits widespread delight in partisan media offices. But that's what happened when the State Department revealed the facts about Clinton's condition: right-wing guffaws.
The unhinged concussion response seemed to mark the unofficial return of the Clinton Crazies, that marauding mindset among conservatives who spent the 90's launching endless attacks against the Clintons; vicious and wildly personal attacks that went far beyond partisan debate. (i.e. Accusations of killings and mass murder.)
With Bill Clinton out of office and Hillary Clinton retreating from domestic politics in her role as Secretary of State, the Clinton Crazies temporarily shelved their hate of the former First Couple and focused their misguided attention on President Obama and his family.
But with Hillary Clinton's overseas term coming to an end and growing speculation about her future political plans in America, we're witnessing the unsightly resurrection of the Clinton Crazies, or Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Now there seems to be a conservative competition to see who can be the most offensive while operating under the guise of "political debate."
What else explains the conservative media's decision to treat Clinton's head trauma as being side-splittingly funny? There's something very disturbing about how it coalesced around its strategy to make fun of her health. I'd suggest there's also something very distasteful about gleefully mocking the health of a woman in her mid-sixties.
But boy, Fox News' Laura Ingraham thought the story was a hoot:
Fox News has continued to accuse President Obama of covering up the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi, now claiming emails that allegedly linked the attack to a terrorist group challenge the administration's story. But the information being used by Fox appears to be unreliable, proving the point that information released in the middle of an attack needs to be corroborated.
CBS News and other outlets released State Department emails sent during the Benghazi attack, which reported that militia group Ansar al-Sharia had allegedly claimed responsibility. Fox seized on the emails to claim that the administration knew about the group's participation in the raid and therefore was hiding the truth by discussing the influencethat an anti-Islam video had on the raid. To back up the attack, Fox News contributor Liz Cheney appeared on the October 24 edition of America's Newsroom and claimed that "it is unusual for Al Qaeda-related groups to claim responsibility for attacks that they are not involved in":
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton responded to the story in an October 24 press conference, explaining that "[p]osting something on Facebook in and of itself is not evidence." Fox responded by accusing Clinton of "dismissing the significance" of the emails in an on-screen graphic.
But Clinton is right: Terrorist organizations often claim responsibility for attacks they did not commit. In fact, the information linking the attack to the Libyan group Ansar al-Sharia is reportedly wrong.
Today on Your World with Neil Cavuto, guest host Stuart Varney had highlighted pictures of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enjoying a beer and dancing at a Cartagena bar during a trip to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas. One of Varney's guests, Heritage Foundation's Nile Gardiner launched an attack, claiming that the pictures made Clinton look "as though she's auditioning for the sixth series of Jersey Shore rather than representing America on the world stage as Secretary of State."
This attack was so over the top, it was called out by Republican strategist Dee Dee Beinke, who called out Gardiner's attack as unfair and sexist.
From the August 2 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Terry Krepel, a senior web editor at Media Matters and founder and editor of ConWebWatch, has a great piece up at Huffington Post about the reemergence of the Western Journalism Center. Be sure to check out the entire piece.
Here's just a taste:
How is Barack Obama's birth certificate like Vince Foster?
To answer that, we must go back to the very beginning. After leaving the Sacramento Union in 1991, Joseph Farah and former Union publisher James Smith founded the Western Journalism Center -- under whose aegis Farah later founded WorldNetDaily. (After WND was spun off as a for-profit subsidiary in 1998, the WJC's share of of it was gradually transferred over the years to Farah.)
Farah likes to peddle the story that the WJC was founded "to fill a growing void in my industry's commitment to investigative reporting" and that its "mission was not ideological." In fact, the WJC didn't do all that much actual investigating; its main function was to attack the Clinton administration by promoting conspiracy theories surrounding the death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster -- it accepted $330,000 in donations from then-Clinton-hater Richard Mellon Scaife toward that end, and other conservative foundations contributed as well -- and it went dormant as soon as Clinton left office.
Now that there's a Democrat in the Oval Office again, guess who's back?
The first hint of the WJC's resurrection came last August with a WorldNetDaily commentary by Andrea Shea King touting Jerome Corsi's factually dubious anti-Obama book, asserting that the book contains "legitimate questions about Obama that the author meticulously documents in the book's nearly 700 footnotes." The article contained the tagline, "This column was commissioned by the Western Journalism Center."
After undergoing a slight name modification -- it now prefers to call itself the slightly more highfalutin'-sounding Western Center for Journalism -- the WJC website is functional again, if only as a blog linking to other articles trashing President Obama and the so-called "liberal media" in general while offering no original commentary. According to its archives, blog posts began sporadically last September, but the blogging efforts have ramped up over the past few months. All posts thus far are anonymous.
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MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell: "I daresay that if there had been three or four IRS audits of the Clintons' tax returns or all of the Bill Clinton money raising, maybe she still wouldn't be secretary of state."
It's tempting to see this is nothing more than an obnoxious and baseless suggestion that the Clintons are crooked. But it's more than that: it's a stunningly clueless statement, because we would surely know already if the Clintons had failed to pay their taxes.
See, the Clintons have released their tax returns to the public. It was kind of a big deal, with the media -- Andrea Mitchell included -- endlessly clamoring for the returns (and showing no comparable interest in John McCain's.) A big enough deal that it's incomprehensible that a national political reporter like Andrea Mitchell wouldn't know that the Clintons released the returns.
(Thanks to S.P. for the tip.)
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On his radio show, Lou Dobbs baselessly suggested that Hillary Clinton and James Carville "ratcheted up" the federal investigation into business and government dealings in New Mexico: "What, an investigation into the New Mexico governor [Bill Richardson]? Maybe he messed with Senator Hillary Clinton one time too many. When James Carville calls you 'Judas,' look out -- things tend to happen. They ratcheted up an investigation."