“Deliberate Misinformation”: Fox Host Juan Williams Debunks His Own Network On Libya Attack

In a blow to his own network, Fox News host Juan Williams debunked false narratives that Fox News has frequently pushed since the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

In an opinion piece for The Hill, Williams offered three “corrections” for what he describes as “deliberate misinformation” from Republicans (and their conservative media mouthpieces) about the Benghazi attack.

Misinformation #1: “U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice lied to the American people in the days after the attack” when she suggested that a viral anti-Islam video sparked violence and wide-spread protests. Fox News has repeatedly pushed this narrative to make it seem like the administration was deliberately misleading the American people.

Correction: Williams debunked this false narrative, pointing to the “simple fact” that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, “confirmed that Rice told the truth in describing the assessment of the intelligence community at the time of her remarks.” Williams went on to explain that CIA Director David Petraeus briefed the House Intelligence Committee with the same intel Rice used, as did Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy in testimony before Congress earlier in October. Furthermore, as Media Matters has previously exposed, Williams noted that Rice “stressed that there was an ongoing investigation where conclusions were subject to change.” Indeed, Rice appeared on all major networks and repeatedly stressed that there was an ongoing investigation into the attacks. 

Misinformation #2: "[R]equests for extra security in Benghazi were denied by the administration," coupled with the suggestion that the “attack would have been stopped, and the ambassador still alive, if the requests had been granted.” Fox News pushed this myth on multiple occasions.

Correction: Williams pointed out that requests for extra security were focused on the embassy in Tripoli, not Benghazi, and State Department officials believe that even if the requests had been granted, they would likely not have changed what happened in Benghazi because the consulate would have been ill-equipped to respond to such a large-scale assault (again echoing a previous report by Media Matters):

It is being charged that requests for extra security in Benghazi were denied by the administration.

The suggestion is that the attack would have been stopped, and the ambassador still alive, if the requests had been granted.

But at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this month, Charlene Lamb, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, testified that the request was for added security in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, and not Benghazi.

The added manpower would have been based 400 miles away from the violence.

In addition, U.S. security officials report more guards could not have repelled heavy weapons used by the attackers.

Misinformation #3: "[T]he attack on Benghazi is evidence that al Qaeda is resurgent." Fox News has pushed this myth multiple times, suggesting on October 11 that one of the reasons for violence toward U.S. officials overseas is a “resurgence of Al Qaeda attacks” in the Middle East and North Africa. In another segment on October 12, notorious warmonger John Bolton suggested that the Libya consulate attack shows a “resurgence of Al Qaeda” and “evidence that the War on Terrorism is still very much with us.”   

Correction: Williams explained that the Obama administration has successfully diminished Al Qaeda, including the removal of leader Osama bin Laden, with targeted drone strikes and anti-terror policies:

The reality is that missions authorized by the Obama administration have killed the top commanders of the terrorist group, including bin Laden.

In addition, President Obama's drone strikes targeting al Qaeda members have decimated the remaining members of the group.

Tommy Vietor, a National Secretary Council spokesman, explains the impact.

“Our assessment that we have decimated al Qaeda leadership is unchanged. Dozens of their senior leadership have been taken off the battlefield as a result of the president's anti-terror policies,” Vietor said.

“We know affiliates like al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula will seek to target us and that's why we go after them relentlessly.”