Fox News Goes All In On The Benghazi Journalism Catastrophe

“Huge” “Smoking Gun” Story Was Never Credible, Has Been Debunked

Fox News hosts have begun complaining that more credible media outlets are refusing to cover the latest embarrassingly false conservative Benghazi conspiracy and demanding that Hillary Clinton be called to account for it.

On Monday, conservative journalists credulously trumpeted the false claim that a newly-released Department of Defense email from the night of the attacks proved that the Obama administration could have helped the Americans under fire during the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, but deliberately decided not to, and that then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had lied about the effort during 2013 congressional testimony.

This was never remotely plausible: The email was consistent with Panetta's statement that they had deployed forces to aid the Americans under fire but that those forces could not reach the scene in time. And last night, the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi produced an unredacted version of the email that conclusively proved that the forces discussed in the email as “spinning up” to respond to the attack were the very units that Panetta has testified were deployed but did not arrive in time.

None of this has stopped Fox News from continuing to obsess over the “smoking gun” email this morning. According to hosts and guests on Fox & Friends, the “huge” email proves that “Leon Panetta and everybody else flat-out lied to us” and that “the only thing standing between the terrorists who overran the compound and the four Americans who lost their lives was a green light from the State Department.” And of course, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “has a lot of explaining to do.”

They have also been criticizing the rest of the media for not devoting sufficient time to the “Benghazi scandal,” calling that purported failure “near-criminal” and airing this graphic:

Fox graphic

Fox's feverish attempts to call out the rest of the media for failing to report on this bogus right-wing story represent the third step in the familiar pattern we at Media Matters call the Fox Cycle:

1. Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting and distorting the story.

2. Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.

3. Fox News and conservative media attack the “liberal media” for ignoring the distorted story.

4. Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.

5. Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.

6. The story is later proven to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.

We will see whether or not the mainstream media will fall into the Benghazi reporting dumpster fire even after the story has already been debunked.