Fox News, Hillary Clinton, And The Difference That Benghazi Makes
During a key moment in her congressional testimony on the September 2012 attacks on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton effectively exposed the witch hunt that conservative media helped Republican lawmakers lead:
[T]he fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?
It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.
That was Clinton's now famous response to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who questioned the secretary over the State Department's role in editing the administration's public talking points - questioning that no doubt delighted a legion of scandal mongers in the right-wing media desperate to spin those talking points into a Watergate event that would bring down the Obama administration.
Since the moment news broke that a U.S. ambassador was among four Americans killed in terrorist attacks on a diplomatic outpost, the right has desperately tried to prove that the administration was engaged in a “cover-up.” Meanwhile, serious, independent investigators have worked to uncover how to prevent such attacks from happening in the future.
This week, as House Republicans prepare to renew their hyper-politicized Benghazi trials, that question - what difference does it make whether the immediate talking points were exactly right on the motive - has again been thrust to the forefront. Fox News analyst Brit Hume, appearing on the May 7 edition of America Live, offered something of a response to Clinton's testimony and in the process provided a hint as to why this matters at Fox:
The murdered ambassador there was her subordinate. The staff there at the embassy were her subordinates. So if she took a walk during this, that doesn't exactly recommend her for the person that who's going to receive the middle-of-the-night phone calls, does it? I mean, I don't think there's any way for her to escape this even if she succeeds in arguing that she didn't her fingerprints on it. If she didn't, she should have.
See, for Fox, the tragedy does not lend itself to asking how to do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again. Instead, the tragedy creates an opportunity for Fox News and the Republican Party to try to bring down the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton over questions like who edited the talking points after the fact.
Never mind that former CIA Director David Petraeus said the agency wanted the talking points edited so as to not tip off terrorists that they were being tracked by U.S. intelligence officials and law enforcement agencies. That's precisely the kind of truth seeking that would interfere with Fox's political agenda.
In his rush to hang a “cover up” on Clinton's legacy, Hume couldn't even bother to get the facts right. Discussing security at the Benghazi compound, Hume pondered “why nothing was done to try to rescue these people when everything hit the fan.” But it has been amply established that reinforcements from Tripoli arrived in Benghazi before a second attack was launched on the compound.
Hume's hit job on Clinton came one day after Fox News contributor John Bolton issued an on-air prayer for a political scandal to come out of Benghazi.
Wednesday's partisan hearings are yet another opportunity for Fox to get the scandal it has been praying for since Obama's election.