“Good news there, I guess.” Fox News anchor Jon Scott, June 17.
Word that U.S. Special Operations forces had captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspected leader of the terror attack on the United States diplomatic facilities in Benghazi two years ago, provided good news for those seeking justice for the four Americans killed in the 2012 raid. The reports however, provided very bad news for people who have been playing politics with the terror attack for the last 21 months.
Indeed, the Benghazi revelation and the instantly negative and mocking reaction it received on Fox News and across the right-wing media landscape, provided a telling glimpse into the propaganda campaign conducted by professional conservative talkers who long ago stopped pursuing the facts of the investigation. Instead, they've tried to turn “Benghazi” into a brand; a self-sustaining scandal machine reminiscent of the one they built to distract Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The goal of these types of blind pursuits doesn't revolve around the truth or facts, but around the ability to attack, attack, attack, regardless of good-news revelations.
So instead of toasting Khattala's capture in Libya as a key breakthrough, the news quickly became reason to add more layers to the impenetrable Benghazi conspiracy. (Either that or to feign indifference.) The claim this time? The timing of the arrest looked fake and phony. Specifically, the Benghazi capture was timed to help Hillary Clinton's book tour 5,000 miles away in America.
“What a great thing to announce on an interview tonight at Fox News, that the perpetrators have been bought to justice,” said Fox contributor Pete Hegseth. "It's all too neat and it's too cute." Added Fox host Kennedy: “You have a former secretary of state, who is in the middle of a really high profile book tour, I think this is convenient for her to shift the talking points from some of the things she has been discussing.”
Rush Limbaugh mocked the timing as “a beautiful thing.”
This kind of contemptuous, dismissive tone is exactly the opposite of what Obama's fevered critics had been demanding since September, 2012.
“May 2014, and you still haven't brought anyone to justice!” Judge Jeanine Pirro complained on her Fox News program just last month. Fox's Eric Bolling, denouncing the lack of detained Benghazi suspects on The Five, July 31, 2013: “Nice job, President O, no suspects, no interviews, no leads, and no answers.” And Fox contributor Allen West signed on to a letter bemoaning the fact that “not a single terrorist in this well-planned and executed military attack by radical Islamists has been apprehended.”
So it was Fox News, then: Bring suspects to justice!
And Fox News, today: Why now?
If you care about justice and if you care about holding people accountable for terrorist actions, your interest in the Khattala arrest wouldn't revolve almost entirely around the “timing” of it. If you're crusading on behalf of victims' families, beseeching and cajoling investigators to do everything in their power to arrest a suspect, when that breakthrough happens you wouldn't complain endlessly about why it took place on a particular day.
This is demanding that a suspect capture take place, and then when it finally does, you denounce it?
That doesn't make sense. And that's why Benghazi hustlers in the press this week inadvertently gave away the game. (Again.) By essentially belittling the capture of Khattala, Benghazi hustlers telegraphed that their manufactured outrage isn't about righteousness. It isn't about bringing possible perpetrators to justice. It isn't about anything, really. Except getting Obama.
Here's a helpful way to the look at the Benghazi complex, a sprawling enterprise that runs through the right-wing media and into the halls of Capital Hill: It's the 2010s equivalent of Paula Jones. Meaning, it's a Republican Party and Republican media attempt to build a permanent scandal machine; a sort of catch-all attack apparatus to hound and harass a Democratic president.
Obviously, the conservative's Paula Jones complex was aimed at tripping up the president legally by investigating his personal life, which led to an impeachment vote. With Benghazi, the relentless, year-after-year pursuit revolves around building a case of Obama-as-traitor, as being derelict in duty, and also angling for an impeachment push. It's embracing Obama Derangement Syndrome and turning it into a fully staffed, full-time pursuit.
But the derangement part of that equation seems to have worsened in recent years. And by definition, that's probably how syndromes work: The resentment that fuels the phenomena just builds and builds year after year, until it becomes all-consuming.