Fox's Talking Points Appear In GOP Lawmakers' Rhetoric During Benghazi Hearings

Several of the questions and statements made by Republican lawmakers to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during congressional hearings on the attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, echoed false or misleading narratives promoted by Fox News.

Obama Describing Attacks As “Terror”

Sen. Risch: “There's Been A Lot Of Debate” Over Obama's “Act Of Terror” Reference. Referring to a statement Clinton made earlier in her testimony, Sen. James Risch (R-ID) said, “I think you probably know where I'm going with this. The next sentence is, 'and I stood with President Obama as he spoke of an act of terror.' And of course there's been a lot of debate as to the context that the word 'terror' was used in.” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, 1/23/13, via]

Fox Spent Four Hours Over Two Days Trying To Explain Away Obama's “Acts Of Terror” Comments. In the October 16, 2012, presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley corrected Mitt Romney after he falsely claimed that President Obama had waited 14 days to describe the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya as an act of terror, noting that in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, Obama called the incident “acts of terror.” In the two days after the debate, Fox News aired 55 segments, totaling more than four hours, that attempted to portray Obama's reference as a general statement or as referring to another incident. [Media Matters, 10/22/12]

Benghazi Talking Points Were Changed Or Altered

Sen. Flake: Talking Points “Were Changed, Or Altered.” Discussing the talking points used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice during appearances on Sunday talk shows, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said, “I think we know now that the talking points -- we don't exactly know where they were changed, or how they were changed, but they were changed, or altered. And I think that we can all concede that we were not given a clear picture of what went on.” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, 1/23/13, via]

Fox Ignored Its Own Reporting To Sow Confusion About Benghazi Talking Points. The hosts of Fox & Friends Saturday speculated that politics had motivated revisions to an early set of Obama administration talking points about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Yet homeland security correspondent Catherine Herridge had reported the day before that some lawmakers said the changes were made to protect classified information. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Saturday, 11/17/12; Fox News, The Five, 11/16/12, via Media Matters]

Fox Covered Up Acknowledgement That Petraeus Was OK With Benghazi Talking Points. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) acknowledged that the Central Intelligence Agency approved the talking points that were used by Rice for an early assessment of the Benghazi attack, which former CIA director David Petraeus testified to in a closed-door hearing. But when Fox News host Megyn Kelly interviewed King, she made no reference to King's earlier statement making clear that Petraeus was not upset that a reference to Al Qaeda was removed from the assessment before it was made public, or that the CIA OK'd the assessment Rice relied upon. [Media Matters, 11/16/12]

Clinton, Obama Apologized After The Attack

Rep. Rohrabacher: “When You Say That We Enraged The Islamic Terrorists, That Means We're At Fault.” Discussing statements made by government officials in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack regarding a video attacking Islam believed to have played a role, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said:

ROHRABACHER: Let's just say you noted, you noted that -- and they -- it can be -- you know people do this so that you can say that you said it, but the emphasis, we all remember what the emphasis was, over and over, and over again it was repeated that we had enraged the Islamic terrorists, which by the way, what's that do? When you say that we enraged the Islamic terrorists, that means we're at fault, they're not at fault. And then to look and see that the only people that I know are in jail right now is the filmmaker. Isn't this a little disconcerting? [House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, 1/23/13, via]

In Fact, Obama And Clinton Strongly Condemned Attack. Neither Clinton nor Obama said that Islamic terrorists were justified in their attack, as Rohrabacher suggested. A statement by Clinton read in part: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.” Obama said that “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack,” adding that “there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence -- none.” [U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, 9/11/12; White House, 9/12/12]

Fox Used Attack To Promote Bogus Obama “Apology” Narrative. Fox News used the Benghazi attack to revive its long-discredited narrative that Obama apologized for American foreign policies in a 2009 speech in Cairo, and that he and his administration has a habit of apologizing. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/12/12, via Media Matters; Media Matters, 4/26/12]

Role Of Anti-Islam Video In Attack

Rep. Salmon Invokes “Demonstration ... That Never Happened,” Fast And Furious As Evidence Of Administration's “Pattern Of Misleading.” Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) attacked Clinton and Obama for “misleading the American people” by referencing an anti-Islam video as a possible influence on the attack:

SALMON: But I've got to say that I -- I am troubled by what seems to be this administration's pattern of misleading the American people and failing to hold decision-makers accountable. From Operation Fast and Furious, where Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly misled the American people and Congress about an intentional international gun-walking scheme, to U.N. Secretary Susan Rice. who, on five separate occasions, went before the American people days after the attacks on Benghazi talking about a demonstration at a facility that never happened, that was not even suggested in any of the reports and information coming from Benghazi? [House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, 1/23/13, via]

Contrary To Claims By Fox And Right-Wing Media, Report Confirms Anti-Islam Video Was Catalyst For Libya Attack. Media outlets, including Fox News, continued to suggest that the Obama administration lied when it said that an anti-Islam video served as a catalyst for the Benghazi attack, even though The New York Times reported that the attackers said they were motivated by the video. [Media Matters, 10/16/12; The New York Times, 10/15/12]