National security journalist Tom Ricks appeared on Fox News to blast the network's incessant coverage of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. After saying that “Benghazi was hyped, by this network especially,” Ricks went on to say that “the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party.”
For example, Fox claimed that the Obama administration's statements that an anti-Islam video played a role in the attack were indicative of an administration “cover-up” ; in fact, reports confirm that some of the attackers say they were motivated by the video. Fox has also attacked Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., for linking the video to the attacks in a series of Sunday show appearances, even though Rice was accurately conveying the consensus of the intelligence community at the time. Fox even suggested that the Obama administration abandoned Americans to die in Benghazi, despite the fact that reinforcements were sent to Benghazi from Tripoli on the night of the attack.
Others have criticized overblown reactions to the Benghazi attack: Time's Joe Klein called efforts to “create a scandal” out of Benghazi “tawdry,” while the Washington Post editorial board said the conservative response to Benghazi has been focused on “half-baked conspiracy theories.”
From the November 26 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
JON SCOTT (co-host): Pressure mounting on the Obama administration over its response to the deadly attack on our consulate in Benghazi, as [Fox News correspondent] Catherine Herridge reported just minutes ago. Several top GOP lawmakers are backing off their criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, instead focusing on the White House. Two senators even expressing concerns about a possible White House cover-up. Let's talk about it with Tom Ricks. He is author of The Generals. He has spent decades covering our military. He joins us now.
Senator John McCain said in the past he would block any attempt to nominate Susan Rice to become U.N. -- I'm sorry, secretary of state. She's currently the U.N. ambassador. He seems to be backing away from that. What do you make of it?
RICKS: I think that Benghazi generally was hyped, by this network especially, and that now that the campaign is over, I think he's backing off a little bit. They're not going to stop Susan Rice from being secretary of state.
SCOTT: When you have four people dead, including the first dead U.N. ambassador -- U.S. ambassador in more than 30 years, how do you call that hype?
RICKS: How many security contractors died in Iraq, do you know?
SCOTT: I don't.
RICKS: No. Nobody does, because nobody cared. We know that several hundred died, but there was never an official count done of security contractors dead in Iraq. So when I see this focus on what was essentially a small firefight, I think, number one, I've covered a lot of firefights. It's impossible to figure out what happens in them sometimes. And second, I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of Republican Party.
SCOTT: All right. Tom Ricks, thanks very much for joining us today.
RICKS: You're welcome.