Fox News figures are using newly released internal emails to falsely suggest that the intelligence community never connected the attack in Benghazi, Libya to protests against an anti-Islam video. In fact, every version of the talking points, including the CIA's original draft, linked the attack to protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which were part of a series of global riots and protests that were partly in response to increased awareness of the video.
On May 15, the White House released more than 100 pages of emails about the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The Los Angeles Times noted of the emails: “Even the very first version of the talking points suggests that the attack was inspired by the protests in Cairo over the anti-Muslim video, a perfectly plausible supposition at the time. That undermines the Republican claim that administration officials concocted the notion of a Benghazi protest to protect the president from a perception that Al Qaeda was ascendant again.” Indeed, the original version of the talking points produced by the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis stated:
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
But Fox News figures have ignored this to predictably use the emails to criticize the Obama administration for misleading Americans when officials publicly linked the Benghazi attacks to the anti-Islam video.
Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes, who previously published the original version of the talking points in The Weekly Standard, accused the administration of being untruthful. On the May 15 edition of Hannity, Hayes claimed that “most striking about these documents is that nowhere in the 12 different drafts of the talking points themselves was there reference to a YouTube video, and only on page 93 and 94 is there any reference at all to a movie.” Host Sean Hannity replied, in part, by attacking the White House for purportedly concocting “this elaborate story that had nothing to do with it, and nobody there said it did, about a YouTube video, et cetera.”
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed on his May 16 program that “when you look at the 94 pages, no mention of the YouTube video, which is a central part of the administration's claim that that's what stirred everything up until a brief mention later in a subject line after I believe the deputies' meeting, and suddenly that became the focus. How could that happen?”
Fox News anchor Uma Pemmaraju said during the May 16 edition of Happening Now that “there was no reference at all to, or mention, of the YouTube video that would become key in the talking points that were put out by this White House.” New York Post Washington bureau chief Geoff Earle replied, “That's right.”
Fox Nation ran a post headlined “Number Of Times YouTube Video Is Mentioned In White House” along with an excerpt from The Washington Free Beacon highlighting Hayes' Hannity appearance and commenting, “Chief among the revelations from today's release of 100 Obama administration emails related to Benghazi is there was no mention of a YouTube video at any point, yet it became a central part of Ambassador Rice's case during her appearances on Sunday morning television, Hayes said.”
By contrast, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly repeatedly highlighted that the video had been implicitly mentioned. On the May 16 edition of America Live, Kelly noted the mention of the demonstrations in Cairo and said “to me, that in part answers the question of how the video got injected into all of this because the protests over in Cairo were based, at least in part, on the video. And so that could be where, where they started to go with this video narrative.” Kelly then asked correspondent James Rosen if that answers “the question of who first injected the video into the matter?” Rosen replied that “it doesn't,” while acknowledging that the language was submitted by “the intelligence community.” He later suggested it showed “analytic laziness” to include mentions of demonstrations and protests.
In a segment following Kelly and Rosen's discussion, guest Marc Thiessen criticized UN Ambassador Susan Rice for mentioning the video during her television interviews about the Benghazi attacks and said the CIA assessment “did not include a mention of an Internet video. She inserted that herself.” Kelly responded by wondering why Rice didn't say “what the memo said, that 'we believe that these attacks were spontaneously inspired by the protests at U.S. embassy in Cairo,' which were in part linked, based on a video, but I want to contextualize that for you because the CIA has told us, they had warned us that there had been five other attacks. That the Benghazi compound had been surveillan-- under surveillance. That Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda linked group, was on the rise and had been making threats, and that the CIA station chief reported real time that this is a terrorist attack,' we wouldn't have had any of these problems.”