How Kidnapped Nigerian Girls Became Right-Wing Media's Latest Hillary Clinton Scandal

Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

Daily Beast

As The Washington Post's Dana Milbank pointed out on May 13, right-wing media have been quick to falsely tie Hillary Clinton to the kidnapping of over 234 young school girls by an extremist group known as Boko Haram, which The New York Times described as a "cultlike Nigerian group" known for "senseless cruelty and capricious violence against civilians." 

Milbank noted that the "nascent effort to pin blame for Boko Haram on Clinton ... shows how a scandal is born" -- highlighting the fact that while the abduction of hundreds of Nigerian school girls "has little to do with the United States," right-wing media have seized the opportunity to search "for ways to blame the kidnappings on the favorite for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination." And "inevitably the accusations landed on the House floor," parroted by Republican congressmen.

The smear kicked off with a Daily Beast article that relied on an anonymous official criticizing the former Secretary of State for previously turning down requests to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization, implying that such a designation could have prevented the kidnapping.

Jumping to Fox News, host Steve Doocy argued that if Clinton had designated Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization, it could have "saved these girls earlier," while anchor Megyn Kelly pushed the notion that Clinton had tried to appease Boko Haram.

The conservative online bubble hyped the connection, until Rush Limbaugh ultimately concluded that both Clinton and President Obama were to blame for the kidnappings.

Conservative congressmen picked up the baton, reportedly arguing on the House floor that Clinton "protected" Boko Haram.

But as Media Matters has explained, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the first to blacklist top Boko Haram leaders, as the State Department identified three Boko Haram leaders as "foreign terrorists" in June 2012. 

According to Reuters, the group's leaders were identified as terrorists rather than the group itself so as not to "elevate the group's profile," and academic experts on Africa agreed that such a group designation could embolden the terrorist group.

To use Milbanks' words, it's the "textbook example of the anatomy of a smear."

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