Frequent Fox guest and conservative radio talk host Lars Larson accused the Obama White House of sitting by and watching a live feed of the September 11 attack at the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Larson went on to claim that the White House was aware through email alerts during the attack that terrorists were indeed responsible but made the political decision not to try to mobilize nearby U.S. forces for help.
In fact, Larson's wild claims are all based on assertions that have not only been widely discredited but are contradicted by evidence.
In an October 24 article, CBS News reported that an audio feed of the attack -- not a video feed as Larson charged -- was being monitored live by diplomatic security official Charlene Lamb, not the White House. CBS added that actual video footage of the attack from security cameras around the compound wasn't recovered until 20 days later.
In a separate article on October 23, CBS described a series of three email alerts the State Department sent to a number of government agencies as the attack was unfolding. One of the emails reported that militia group Ansar al-Sharia had posted messages on Facebook and Twitter claiming responsibility for the attack. The email stated that the U.S. embassy in Tripoli reported that the Islamic group “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibilty [sic] for Benghazi Attack ... on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”
However, the information in that email alert turned out to be inaccurate. Ansar al-Sharia, in fact, didn't post any messages on their social media accounts until the day after the attack and expressed only approval of the incident. It did not take credit for it.
But on Fox News' America Live, Larson condemned the White House for supposedly standing by as terrorists attacked the consulate.
He stated: “We've got the scandal of an American president, whose people -- I don't know if he personally sat there and watched that video -- but his people sat there and watched as this happened, and did nothing. Didn't even try to call in, you know, the assets that were available.”
Host Megyn Kelly replied that military officials have cautioned not to “second-guess the military,” but agreed that “we haven't really been told exactly what went through the minds now since we've learned they watched it unfold in real time, you know, in the Situation Room.” Kelly did cast doubt, however, on Larson's outrageous theory that the Obama White House let Americans die in a terrorist attack because of politics.
Kelly went on to question why U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the American people in national interviews on September 16 that the attack “was all about a video.” She stated:
KELLY: We know from these cables we saw this week, Lars, that she was told as it was happening, moments after, that this Islamic jihadist group, Ansar al-Sharia, was claiming responsibility for it and she knew that 20 guys with weapons, including RPGs and others, weapons were bombing the consulate and unleashing hell.
Larson replied: “Megyn, this is why I think it was a political decision” since “we know the film had nothing to do with this particular attack on this consulate.”
The anti-Islam video has served as the smoking gun behind Fox News' campaign of a supposed administration cover-up, though evidence has continually undermined the network's narrative. Indeed, the video was linked to protests in at least 20 Muslim countries, and the attackers at the Benghazi compound have reportedly said they were motivated by the video. The New York Times reported on September 17:
[T]he attackers, recognized as members of a local militant group called Ansar al-Shariah, did tell bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video. They did not mention the Sept. 11 anniversary. Intelligence officials believe that planning for the attack probably began only a few hours before it took place.
In an October 24 article, National Journal quoted an intelligence official as saying, “The bulk of available information still supports the early assessment that extremists -- many with ties to Ansar al-Sharia, AQIM [Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb], or other groups -- didn't preplan the attack days or weeks in advance, but launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”
Other Fox News personalities have also made the outrageous claim that President Obama made the political calculation to let Americans die in Libya during the attack: K.T. McFarland claimed that “it was probably a political decision not to rescue” the Americans in Benghazi, and Peter Johnson Jr., on Fox & Friends, accused the administration of “sacrific[ing] Americans” as a “political calculation.”
Larson has also suggested that Obama wouldn't care if the idea of a possible U.S. strike in retaliation for the Benghazi attack “gets more people killed.”