Fox News host Martha MacCallum claimed that a “stand down” order was given the night of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi - an order that prevented U.S. troops from saving the lives of Americans stationed there. MacCallum's claim ignores the reality that no “stand down” order was ever given.
In the months following the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate, Fox hosts accused the Obama administration of ordering troops to “stand down” and not respond immediately to the attack. Media Matters analysis shows that on at least 85 different occasions Fox mentioned this accusation during segments in prime time.
On the July 26 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, MacCallum said, “My mind goes back to the order to stand down, and how none of this may have happened if that order to stand down had not been given. And we still don't know who gave that order, so that remains a really serious question here as well.”
During May 8 congressional hearings into the Benghazi attacks, then Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli Gregory Hicks testified that Lt. Col. Gibson, who commanded special forces troops in Tripoli, was ordered to “stand down.” Following that testimony, Gibson met with the House Armed Services Committee on June 26 and told the Republican-led committee that no “stand down” order was given:
In a closed-door session with the House Armed Services Committee, Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson said his commanders told him to remain in the capital of Tripoli to defend Americans in the event of additional attacks and to help survivors being evacuated from Benghazi.
“Contrary to news reports, Gibson was not ordered to 'stand down' by higher command authorities in response to his understandable desire to lead a group of three other special forces soldiers to Benghazi,” the Republican-led committee said in a summary of its classified briefing with military officials, including Gibson.
Additionally, in February Leon Panetta testified before Congress that President Obama “ordered that the Defense Department respond to the attack with 'all available DOD assets' and try to protect U.S. personnel.” Fox's own Benghazi special which aired in late June reported that an April House GOP interim report into the attacks confirmed that the “Department of Defense officials and military personnel reacted quickly to the attacks in Benghazi.”