Fox News seized on testimony from Ret. Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell to push the false narrative that President Obama did not do enough to rescue the victims of the Benghazi attack, a claim that collapsed after Lovell clarified that he was not making that point.
During the May 1 Congressional hearing on Benghazi, Lovell, who was stationed in Germany at the time of the attack, testified that “we should have tried” to rescue the victims of the attack. Fox News immediately hyped Lovell's testimony as evidence the Obama administration did not engage in a rescue attempt. On America's Newsroom, Fox's digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt called Lovell's testimony “incredibly damning,” saying: “if there is a true national shame in this incident was that we did not try. We had been told repeatedly by the Obama administration that we could not try and that it was known that it would have been impossible to have helped those who were eventually killed”:
Fox's attack collapsed later in the day, however. During the question and answer portion of the testimony, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) asked Lovell specifically about claims that the military had resources that they did not utilize. Lovell explained that when he said “we should have tried,” he did not mean that the response was insufficient and that it is a “fact” that there was nothing more the military could have done:
CONNELLY: I want to read to you the conclusion of the chairman of the [Armed Services] Committee, the Republican chairman Buck McKeon, who conducted formal briefings and oversaw that report he said quote “I'm pretty well satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened, and how quickly it dissipated we probably couldn't have done much more than we did.” Do you take issue with the chairman of the Armed Services Committee? In that conclusion?
LOVELL: His conclusion that he couldn't have done much more than they did with the capability and the way they executed it?
CONNELLY: Given the timeframe.
LOVELL: That's a fact.
LOVELL: The way it is right now. The way he stated it.
CONNELLY: Alright, because I'm sure you can appreciate, general, there might be some who, for various and sundry reasons would like to distort your testimony and suggest that you're testifying that we could have, should have done a lot more than we did because we had capabilities we simply didn't utilize. That is not your testimony?
LOVELL: That is not my testimony.
CONNELLY: I thank you very much, general.