Wall Street Journal Columnist Uses 13 Hours To Hype Benghazi Myths And Threaten Hillary Clinton's Presidential Run
Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN
A Wall Street Journal column used the recently released film depicting the Benghazi attacks to revive old myths about the attacks while claiming that the movie "ought to" threaten Hillary Clinton's presidential run.
Earlier this month, Michael Bay released his latest movie, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Before it hit theaters, conservative media used the film to recycle debunked myths about the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks, including that officials issued a "stand down order" and that no military assistance was sent to Benghazi during the attacks. Right-wing media also hyped the possibility that the movie could "pose a threat to" Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and could raise questions about the attacks that eight congressional probes previously failed to answer. Fox's Megyn Kelly claimed the film "reintroduces Benghazi as a potential campaign issue that cannot be helpful to Mrs. Clinton." Another Fox host argued that "if anyone sees this movie ... and then goes on to vote for Hillary Clinton, they're a criminal."
In his January 20 column for the Journal, Daniel Henninger asserted, "'13 Hours' is a graphic, reasonably accurate depiction" of the attacks and "makes the memory of the government's tall tale, which it insisted on repeating for more than a week, hard to stomach." That "tale," the claim goes, involves "the Obama administration's YouTube coverup, the story--or 'talking points'--about how an obscure anti-Islamic video made in California caused Benghazi to happen." Henninger also twisted facts to place blame on Hillary Clinton, writing, "There ought to be a political reckoning over this" for Clinton, who "was complicit in a White House concoction she knew the night of the attack was untrue."
The myths pushed by the conservative media chorus about the film have been repeatedly debunked. According to former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the "stand down order" right-wing media claim occurred on the night of the attacks never happened. Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense during the Bush and Obama administrations, explained military aid was deployed, but was unable to reach Benghazi before the attacks concluded, and called out conservative media's "cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces." Henninger's assertion that the Obama administration attempted to "coverup" the story behind the attacks by blaming a YouTube video has been debunked by Senate Select Committee reviews and the by attackers themselves. The "talking points" Henninger mentioned were edited to avoid revealing what the administration knew to the terrorists groups responsible for the attacks.
As The Washington Post's Erik Wemple explained, conservative media are "promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton" and in doing so, "acting as an advocacy organization." And Media Matters' David Brock wrote "there's no scandal" in the film or the events it depicts, "only a partisan witch hunt."