If the annual Conservative Political Action Conference is any indication, conservative media won't be abandoning their scandal-mongering about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi any time soon. Though conservatives' conspiracies about the assault on U.S. diplomatic facilities have fallen apart under scrutiny, many CPAC attendees are upset with mainstream outlets for not being aggressive enough on the story.
“I would say the media isn't pursuing information about Benghazi enough, including FOIAs, trying to interview people who ... the government doesn't want interviewed and has discouraged from being interviewed and not in general doing due diligence,” said John Fund, a conservative columnist at National Review. “I would compare the lack of follow through unfavorably to scandals such as Abu Ghraib and even Guantanamo.”
Larry O'Connor, editor of Breitbart.com, offered a similar view when asked if Benghazi is being covered enough. “I see stories from Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News and Bret Baier's Special Report that I don't see other outlets covering.”
Mainstream outlets have devoted significant coverage to the Benghazi story, if not always in the manner that those pushing the scandal would prefer. In December, The New York Times published an exhaustive six-part series on Benghazi which debunked several myths propagated by the conservative media. The fact-finding out of Congress also hasn't backed the scandal narrative; in January, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a bipartisan report stating that there was no attempt by the Obama administration to cover up the attacks and pointing out that no “stand down” order was given to the military.
Those facts aren't stopping the conservative media.
“We have still not gotten a great answer as to why the military did not respond when one of our embassies is attacked,” said John Solomon, editor of The Washington Times. Regardless of what Solomon considers a “great answer,” the various aspects of the military response the night of the attacks have been widely detailed.
TownHall.com editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich largely blamed the administration for reporters' difficulties covering the story, saying, “It is difficult for reporters to cover an issue when the government is not giving answers.”
Support for more Benghazi investigations did not only come from media figures at CPAC. With former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton receiving massive attention over her potential run for the White House in 2016, conservatives clearly see Benghazi as a way to damage her possible candidacy.
During a speech, Sen. Mitch McConnell claimed media were “trying to fix Benghazi for Hillary” by not repeating the right-wing myths about the attacks.
There was also a Breitbart News-sponsored panel just a block away from the CPAC venue where participants claimed a cover-up exists, but offered few specifics.
“It should be covered more because at the conclusion of her time as secretary of state people said she is one of the best secretaries of state and I do not see that,” said Tim Constantine, a conservative radio talk show host who spoke from CPAC's radio row. “I wish you had a Bob Woodward/Carl Bernstein type looking into it.”
Duke Brooks, president of Conservative Nation Media and a talk show host from Delaware, accused many media outlets of trying to bury the story: “The three big networks, CNN and The New York Times and Washington Post are downplaying it.”
When asked if he thought Benghazi had been covered enough, outspoken conservative radio talker Lars Larson said, “No, no, not nearly enough. We need to find out a number of things: Where was President Obama? I'd like people to know what he was doing?”
Then there is Michael Medved, the conservative radio talk show host based in Seattle, who warned conservatives not to focus on Benghazi too soon. But he said it will be an issue closer to the 2016 election if Clinton runs.
“If and when Secretary Clinton is a candidate for president then there are still a lot of questions to be answered,” Medved said from radio row. “Such as what was the president doing that night?”
Image via Gage Skidmore using a Creative Commons License