Will The Media Help Romney Surrogate Catapult Bogus Libya Hearings Into Big News?

Media outlets are giving credence to upcoming “hearings” into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, led in part by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a key Romney surrogate, even as Congress is not in session.

Chaffetz, a Republican congressman from Utah on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has scheduled an October 10 hearing into the security situation in Benghazi prior to the attack, hearings that coincide with investigations into the attacks that are already underway. At least one prominent Democrat has said that the hearings are about politics.

Fox News took the lead in hyping Chaffetz's investigation with a Tuesday interview on Fox & Friends -- which is at least his 54th appearance on the network. Although Fox has previously identified Chaffetz as a Romney surrogate, it did not do so today.

During the interview, Chaffetz indicated that he would use the hearing to push the Fox News line that the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attack has constituted a “cover-up.” But this allegation falls apart in the face of the facts. The FBI began investigating in the first days after the attack, and the State Department is setting up an independent panel to review the incident. Obama administration officials have made multiple media appearances to discuss the attack and testified before Congress on the subject as well.

Much of the right-wing media narrative about the Benghazi attack is rooted in falsehoods, including the claim that there was “no security” at the Benghazi consulate; in fact, there were multiple teams of armed guards at the consulate.

Similarly, conservative media figures have falsely claimed that the consulate attack was somehow an unprecedented event, that it was the “first successful terror attack since 9/11” and that there had been “no storming” of U.S. embassies under other presidents. In reality, there have been multiple terrorist attacks since 9-11 -- including several on U.S. soil. -- and there have been at least 15 attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates since 1979

A major component of the right-wing media narrative is the allegation that the Obama administration denied that the attack could be terrorism and blamed the violence on an anti-Muslim film.

The facts tell a much different story. As the Obama administration launched an investigation into the attacks, it said it was avoiding speculation and never dismissed the possibility of terrorism. The Obama administration ultimately called the attacks terrorism, and the office of the Director of National Intelligence has stated that the intelligence community did revise its appraisal of the attack to reflect new information. Meanwhile, there is clear reporting that indicates that the protests across the Middle East were indeed set off by the anti-Muslim film.

Nevertheless, major media have signaled that they will follow Fox's lead and cover this dog and pony show as serious news, rather than the work of a campaign surrogate.