An unintended moment of clarity recently emerged on Fox News during The O'Reilly Factor, as guests unpacked their endless predictions about the supposed mounting legal woes facing Hillary Clinton. Blissfully ignoring security and legal experts who agree Clinton faces almost no legal jeopardy for using private emails while secretary of state, Fox has remained a hot bed for baseless allegations. And in the Fox tradition, the more baseless the better.
So night after night, day after day, a rotating carousel of partisans who attack Democrats for a living have been invited onto Fox to invent a laundry list of claims and excitedly predict all the awful things that await Clinton and her surely doomed campaign.
The unintended moment of clarity came on September 3 when Fox's James Rosen, who seems sure the email story is following the same track as Nixon's Watergate impeachment process, combined bogus claims about the Clinton email story with bogus claims about already-answered questions regarding the September 11, 2012 terror attack in Benghazi.
Meaning, Rosen was able to momentarily tie the discussion about the Clinton emails “scandal” back to Obama's Benghazi “scandal.” In doing so, Rosen helped remind viewers, briefly, that Obama's Benghazi and Clinton's emails are joined at the hip and both scandal productions represent the right-wing's ceaseless attempt to undermine Democratic leaders through the guise of investigation, all sponsored by Fox News and often cheered by the Beltway press. (The Republican-led Benghazi select committee has effortlessly morphed into the Clinton email committee.)
Today, as we observe the third anniversary of the Benghazi terror attack let's keep in mind the links between Fox's utterly failed, dishonest, and at times painfully stupid Benghazi cover-up production, and Fox's current scandal production, the Clinton emails. Fox's relentless, fact-free hysteria about the emails is quickly catching up to the caterwauling that has marked the three-year Benghazi crusade.
One has become a mirror reflection of the other:
-Endless, Captain Ahab-like pursuit? Check.
-Wildly fantastic claims of lawbreaking? Check.
-Comically sinister portrayal of a Democratic villain? Check.
-Remaining unmoved by the facts? Check.
In other words, the same Fox News talkers who got everything wrong about Benghazi are now the ones sponsoring the Clinton email 'scandal.' And when I say “everything” about Benghazi, that's not hyperbole.
Over the last three years, Fox News claimed Obama never called the Benghazi attack an act of terror and that former CIA director David Petraeus was forced to resign because of Benghazi. They've insisted Obama watched Americans die and refused to send help. That so-called whistleblowers have been blocked from testifying before Congress, along with Benghazi survivors. Also, that Clinton faked a concussion in order to avoid testifying about the terror attack.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Seven strikes and you're out, right?
Today, “Benghazi” has both become both a morbid punch line and shorthand for a partisan waste of time. Just this week, Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen reportedly mocked an unrelated Republican inquiry as “the Benghazi of healthcare hearings.”
For the most part, Benghazi has been retired as scandal bait at Fox News, which previously aired hundreds and hundreds of hours and a thousand-plus segments on the topic, promoting pointless pursuits of the Obama White House, and did so with wild and reckless allegations of wrongdoing.
Here are some wild and reckless claims talkers on Fox News have been making about the email story in recent weeks, via Nexis:
*“The e-mail evidence made public so far pretty much enough to indict her on a misdemeanor national security beef. If the FBI discovers she had her e-mail server professionally scrubbed, the former secretary of state could be looking at a felony charge.” (Bill O'Reilly)
*“The idea that we're even debating whether or not she violated the law -- you'll hear her supporters say, Well, where's the evidence? And I say we're not only overwhelmed with all the evidence, I say where is the grand jury? Why isn't there a grand jury?” (Mark Levin)
*“Was this a mass criminal conspiracy? You've got co-conspirators! You've got people taking top secret off of e-mails! You've got everything the grand jury should be investigating right now!” (Jeanine Pirro)
And this what-if exchange, via Nexis transcript, between Fox legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. and Sean Hannity nicely captures the breathless chatter being broadcast on Fox [emphasis added]:
JOHNSON: Oh, I think this is significant legal problems. I don't know whether a crime has been committed or not, but we have all of the circumstances, all of the conditions surrounding the potential that a crime has been committed...
HANNITY: A serious crime.
JOHNSON: ... apart from bad judgment, apart from this nonsense that you're going to recreate history and keep a State Department to yourself and say, I'm going to take the server with me.
I think that this is the digital analog to the Nixon Watergate tapes. It's the same kind of controlling mindset.
HANNITY: Peter, look at the possible smoking guns.
HANNITY: What if the Chinese have it? What if Putin has it? What if the FBI can recover some of the deleted e-mails that maybe refer to Benghazi or other issues...
JOHNSON: Where did they go either intentionally or unintentionally? What's the negligence? What's the...
HANNITY: ... obstruction of justice!
JOHNSON: And when the FBI comes a-calling -- we haven't even gotten to that. what about the personal interview with Secretary of State Clinton...
JOHNSON: ... and all of the people that used to work for her? We haven't even gotten to that point. That point will come. The FBI will say...
HANNITY: What are the odds -- last question. What are the odds you think she would get indicted?
In September 2012, The Five co-host Eric Bolling described the Benghazi “cover-up” as “the biggest news story since Watergate.” On the night of Obama's reelection, Fox News contributor Todd Starnes announced on Twitter, “the first order of business should be a full investigation of Benghazi -- followed by impeachment proceedings.” And just last year, Fox's Pirro called Benghazi the “biggest cover up since Watergate” and declared that Obama's “dereliction of duty as commander-in-chief demands [his] impeachment.”
Like I said, virtually every claim Fox News made about Obama and Benghazi turned out to be utter nonsense. So now, after crassly politicizing the deaths of four Americans in a failed attempt to dislodge Obama, Fox has taken its Benghazi hoax and christened it a Clinton email crusade.
To date, it's proving to be just as dishonest.