Fox News today promoted a campaign ad from pro-Republican super PAC American Crossroads that deceptively edited footage from Obama administration officials to claim that they have purposely misled the public about the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The ad opens with the recent presidential debate exchange on Libya between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, in which Romney falsely claimed that Obama waited 14 days before labeling the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi an act of terror. After airing footage of several Obama officials talking about an anti-Islam video that fueled protests around the Middle East, the ad cuts to CNN's Candy Crowley, the moderator of the October 16 debate, purportedly agreeing with Romney's claim.
On Fox News' The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros introduced the ad by saying that it “clearly illustrates the contradiction that this administration has done so far with regard to the Libya story.” Tantaros later claimed that the Obama administration has “told us so many different stories,” the ad “really is the best way to lay it out.”
In fact, as Slate's David Weigel illustrated, the ad attempts to “change the record” by omitting remarks Ambassador Susan Rice made to NBC's David Gregory, giving the false impression that she blamed the attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on an anti-Muslim video:
When Gregory asked Rice whether terrorism occured in Banghazi [sic], Rice did not mumble about the video. She offered some disclaimers then said that “opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate.” The idea that Rice foolishly claimed that the attack was part of a video protest, and nothing more, is a myth that only comes true with sketchy edits.
Indeed, during her interview on NBC and in other interviews on September 16, Rice repeatedly stated that she wanted not to jump to conclusions because an FBI investigation into the attack was ongoing.
Moreover, as the Huffington Post noted, what the ad “does not show is that Crowley also fact-checked Romney, confirming that the president did use the words 'act of terror' in his Rose Garden speech on Sept. 12.”
Obama also labeled the Benghazi attack an act of terror twice on September 13, at campaign stops in Nevada and Colorado.
In contrast to Tantaros' contention that administration officials have told contradicting stories by highlighting the video, The New York Times reported on October 15 that “there is little doubt” the attack was “in retaliation for the video.”
Fox News has continued to attack the administration for mentioning the video in statements about the attack in Benghazi. In fact, the video was linked to protests in at least 20 Muslim countries starting on September 11.
UPDATE: Fox News promoted the ad again this evening, playing it in full on Hannity. Fox host Dana Perino called the ad “effective” and said “the best thing that the Romney campaign can do, or American Crossroads if you're against the current administration, is just let their own words speak for themselves, and let people decide what the truth was.” National Review editor Rich Lowry and Fox host Sean Hannity both praised the ad and repeated the lie that the Obama administration did not call Benghazi a terror attack for “14 days,” claiming the President “wasn't” referring to Benghazi as “a premeditated terror attack in the Rose Garden.”