Media Fell For Bogus “New Information” Spin In GOP Benghazi Report

Media Fell For Bogus “New Information” Spin In GOP Benghazi Report

››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

Several media outlets falsely reported that the final report released by Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi contained “new information,” when in fact all of the “key findings” in the report had been previously reported. Committee Republicans reportedly released “embargoed ‘exclusives’” strategically to manipulate reporters into presenting details in the releases as new information.

House Republicans Claim “New” Information Was Uncovered In Final Benghazi Report

NBC News: House Republicans Released “A Long-Awaited Report On The 2012 Terrorist Attack In Benghazi.” Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi released “a long-awaited report on the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi,” which details “an array of bureaucratic miscues and inter-agency blunders” during and after the attacks. [NBC News, 6/28/16]

Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy: “I’m Actually Proud Of What We Found And I Think It’s New.” House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) defended accusations that the committee hadn’t found any new information and wasted “taxpayer dollars and … time,” saying, “Who says that stuff [wasn’t] new? Nobody's ever reported that nothing was headed to Benghazi, nobody's ever reported that not a single wheel was turning towards Libya.” Gowdy ultimately said, “I'm actually proud of what we found and I think it's new.” From the House Republicans’ June 28 press conference on the findings of the Benghazi committee:

QUESTION: For you Mr. Chairman -- the Democrats on your committee say that you put out a lot of new details, but that they don't really change the fundamental understanding of what happened and a lot of the broad themes that you've just discussed have been known for years. So at the end of the day, was this the best use of taxpayer dollars and of your time?

GOWDY: It is difficult for me to begin with where I disagree with the foundation of your question, so let me just start at the end of it. Who says that stuff was new? Nobody's ever reported that nothing was headed to Benghazi, nobody's ever reported that not a single wheel was turning towards Libya, God knows nobody's ever reported who actually evacuated our folks. You may have reported that Secretary Clinton was headed back to Libya in October, but you didn't have the corroboration of the e-mails and you didn't know why she was going back.

You didn't know about the $20 million memo, you didn't -- first of all, you didn't know about any of the e-mails from Ambassador Stevens, you didn't know about any of the e-mails from Sidney Blumenthal to whomever he was e-mailing, you didn't know that a single U.S. military asset did not meet a single designated timeline. Think about that for a second. The world's most powerful military did not meet a single, solitary self-imposed timeline. So all of that is new.

[...]

Our report doesn't mention the presumptive Republican nominee for president, because he's got nothing to do with Benghazi. So you can direct those questions to [Rep.] Elijah [Cummings (D-MD)] and the rest of them. I'm actually proud of what we found and I think it's new. [Press Conference from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, CNN, CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, 6/28/16]

Media Report That Benghazi Committee Revealed “New Details” Not Previously Released

Politico: “Republicans Spotlighted New, Embarrassing Details About The Obama Administration’s Botched Response To The Attack.” A series of June 28 Politico articles hyped “new, embarrassing details” revealed in the House Benghazi Committee’s report, with one article claiming that the report uncovered the fact “that no troops ever deployed to Benghazi” as well as “new details about a White House teleconference that was convened as the attack was still unfolding.” Another wrote that among “the 7 must-read passages in the Benghazi report” were sections featuring new details about “a 7:30 p.m. video conference convened at the White House,” noting that the Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team “changed in and out of their uniforms four times,” and reporting, “None of the relevant military forces met their deadlines to deploy to Benghazi.” [Politico, 6/28/16, 6/28/16, 6/28/16]

NBC News: “House Republicans’ Report Sheds New Light On Benghazi Attack.” A June 28 NBC News report claimed that the “long-awaited report” released by the House GOP “sheds new light on [the] Benghazi attack,” including new details about “the military's failure to carry out Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's order to deploy forces to Benghazi” and “breakdowns that delayed the military's attempts to save Americans from the diplomatic compound — including the inability to decide whether Marines should wear their uniforms” The NBC News article said the “report also offers new details about why U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, one of the casualties, was at the compound in the Libyan city with only two State Department bodyguards, months after the British and others had evacuated the area,” and contains information about “a newly revealed two-hour secure video conference on the night of the attacks.” [NBC News, 6/28/16]

CNN’s Dana Bash: There’s “Some Other Information That We See That’s New In Here.” CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash said on the June 28 edition of New Day that there was “some other information that we see that's new in here,” including that “Ambassador Stevens wanted to make the Benghazi outpost a permanent U.S. consulate” and that “as the Marines prepared to deploy, they changed in and out of their uniforms four times.” Bash also reported on the “newly revealed” information from NBC News, including the “two-hour video conference” and the “diplomatic sensitivities around what uniforms they should wear.” [CNN, New Day, 6/28/16]

Fox News: Report Has “Revealing Details We’ve Never Heard Before.” Fox News host Megyn Kelly said on the June 28 edition of The Kelly File that “an eye-opening new report on Benghazi is revealing details we've never heard before,” and that the “new Benghazi committee report suggests that as this attack was unfolding, the White House was convening a meeting with Secretary Hillary Clinton and other officials, though the president was notably absent.” Fox chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge said the “report found the video explanation from the 2012 terrorist attack was crafted in Washington by political appointees and did not reflect the real-time intelligence,” and also reported that the committee’s findings included that Clinton “wanted the Benghazi outpost to be permanent.” [Fox News, The Kelly File, 6/28/16]

The Weekly Standard: Report “Revelations” Include Detail That “Obama Did Not Ask For An Intel Brief The Day After The Benghazi Attack.” The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes reported that “among the many revelations that will emerge from the voluminous majority report” is that “Barack Obama skipped his daily intelligence briefing one day after the Benghazi attacks.” [The Weekly Standard, 6/28/16]

The Hill: House GOP Benghazi Report “Contains New Information About The Events” Surrounding The Attacks. A June 28 article in The Hill said the report from the House Select Committee on Benghazi “contains new information about the events in Washington and on the ground in Libya,” including that “Stevens wanted to make the Benghazi facility permanent,” “[t]he military never got moving,” “[t]roops changed clothes four times,” and a “YouTube video dominated [the] White House meeting.” [The Hill, 6/28/16]

But The “New Evidence” In The Report Is “Not New After All”

Benghazi Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings: Supposedly “‘New Findings’ … Are Not In Fact New.” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the Democratic ranking member on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a June 28 press release that “Democrats have already identified four supposedly ‘new’ findings that are not in fact new,” and said, “The problem is that many of the very claims Republicans are now saying are new were reported years ago, and they do not change our fundamental understanding of what happened in Benghazi.” The release notes that the following the claims were previously reported:

  • The claim that Secretary Clinton was considering a trip to Libya in 2012 and that the Department wanted to establish a permanent facility in Benghazi was reported three years ago.
  • The claim that no military assets were deployed to Benghazi on the night of the attacks was reported three years ago.
  • The claim that a secure video teleconference (SVTC) on the night of the attacks focused overwhelmingly on a YouTube video was reported two years ago and has been debunked.
  • The claim that a military embassy security team headed to Tripoli was ordered to change out of their uniforms and into civilian clothes several times the morning after the attacks was reported three years ago. [Press Release from the Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, 6/28/16]

An Associated Press “Comparison Of Congressional Reports” About The Attacks Shows No New Findings. The Associated Press summarized and compared key findings from four different congressional investigations into the Benghazi attacks, including January 2014 and November 2014 reports, and the analysis revealed that the Republicans’ Benghazi committee report offered nothing new that hadn’t been reported in the two 2014 reports. The AP compared the four reports’ findings regarding “preventing the attacks,” “military response,” “whether the military was ordered to stand down and not respond to the attacks,” and “Hillary Clinton”:

PREVENTING THE ATTACKS:

House Benghazi Committee Republicans, June 28, 2016: Faults the Obama administration for loose security at the post. There were rarely more than a handful of security personnel there, and the facility's design did not meet security requirements.

House Benghazi Committee Democrats, June 27, 2016: State Department security measures in Benghazi were inadequate as a result of decisions made by mid-level officials. U.S. intelligence received no advance warning of attacks.

Senate Intelligence Committee, bipartisan, January 2014: Attacks could have been prevented. U.S. intelligence didn't send enough warnings about the potential threat. The State Department could have closed the Benghazi facility until security was improved.

House Intelligence Committee, bipartisan, November 2014: U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi was insufficiently protected. State Department security agents knew they could not defend it from a well-armed attack. [Associated Press, 6/28/16]

Wash. Post Contributor Marc Thiessen Wrote Two Days After The Attacks That Obama Did Not Receive An In-Person Intelligence Briefing. Washington Post contributor Marc Thiessen reported on September 13, 2012 -- two days after the Benghazi attacks -- that Obama’s September 12 intelligence briefing “was canceled so that he could comfort grieving employees at the State Department — as well he should.” Thiessen reported that Obama did not receive an in-person intelligence briefing that day. Thiessen’s report runs contrary to Stephen Hayes’ June 28, 2016, claim in The Weekly Standard that the GOP report included the “revelation” that Obama did not receive an intelligence briefing. [The Washington Post, 9/13/12]

LA Times: “None Of These Conclusions … Is New.” The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote on January 28,“The problem is that none of these conclusions in the report by Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi is new, despite devoting two years of staff time and $7 million in tax dollars to the effort.” [The Los Angeles Times, 6/28/16]

Wash. Post Editorial Board: The Report “Adds Exactly Nothing Substantial To The Story.” The Washington Post’s editorial board wrote that the report, after “two years and $7 million,” “adds exactly nothing substantial to the story” and that the “committee came up empty.” [The Washington Post, 6/28/16]

Roll Call’s Jonathan Allen: “So, Reading All Eporting (sic) On Benghazi This Morning, There’s A Lot That Committee Is Claiming Is New That Was Out Before It Began Probe.”

[Twitter, 6/28/16]

House GOP Reportedly Strategically Released “Embargoed ‘Exclusives’” To Different Outlets, Which Were “Tricked Into Misreporting” Old Information As New

Wash Post’s Erik Wemple: Media Reported Old Information As New Because Of GOP’s “Partial Spoon-Feeding” Of “Embargoed ‘Exclusives.’” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple noted that several different news outlets, including Politico, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and The Weekly Standard, were given different sections of the Benghazi report by the House Republicans as “embargoed ‘exclusives,’” leading to “a number of early-morning stories that reported various aspects of the Benghazi report.” Wemple quoted a spokesperson for the Benghazi committee Democrats: “Republicans forbade reporters from checking the accuracy of their report with Democrats.” Wemple also cited Hillary Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon, who said that this “ploy” by House Republicans “was clearly designed to manipulate coverage by minimizing the time for scrutiny of the allegations contained in the report,” and as a result, “The ploy worked initially, in that many of these outlets that struck this deal got tricked into misreporting several old bits of information as ‘new’ revelations.” [The Washington Post, 6/28/16]

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