Fox News' embellishments of discredited journalist Sharyl Attkisson's latest Benghazi conspiracy theory have become increasingly detached from reality, most recently morphing into absurd allegations that Hillary Clinton supporters “scrubbed” documents to hide evidence of a supposed State Department effort to funnel weapons to the Islamic State militants in a “mini-Iran Contra” scenario, or, as Fox puts it, “the holy grail” of scandals.
After Attkisson highlighted disgruntled former State Department employee Raymond Maxwell's speculating (he "couldn't help but wonder") that State Department staff “scrubbed” damaging Benghazi documents before the initial investigation, it took just hours for Fox's coverage of the claims to morph from reiteration into full-blown allegations that Hillary Clinton's office had facilitated the destruction of key documents in violation of federal law.
Fox's own Bill O'Reilly raised doubts about whether Attkisson's story constituted a scandal, but Fox's morning show kept the conspiracy drumbeat alive on September 17 edition of Fox & Friends, escalating the speculative claims to even greater heights. Co-host Brian Kilmeade and Fox News contributor Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer speculated that the allegedly removed documents would prove that the State Department enabled an Iran-Contra-like scenario by facilitating the transfer of weapons to Islamic State militants. Insisting that “all roads lead to principal officers,” Shaffer imagined that the supposed documents may hide a “direct link” to what he called a “holy grail” of Benghazi allegations, and Kilmeade concluded that “this is almost like a mini Iran-Contra thing” :
SCHAFFER: Some of these documents we're talking about were probably the direct link to some of the bad incidents, to include the holy grail here that nobody wants to talk about -- is the obtaining of weapons from the Libyan rebels, moving them out of the country, to the Turks, through Turkey to the Syrian rebels, some of those rebels ended up being the ISIS threat we're now facing.
KILMEADE: So you mean this is almost like a mini Iran-Contra thing.
Such baseless allegations are typical of Fox News' Benghazi coverage; a Media Matters report found over 120 comparisons to the Iran-Contra, Watergate, and the actions of the Nixon administration in the nearly 1,100 Benghazi segments Fox aired during the first 20 months after the attack.