Really Fox News? Benghazi Is Your Example Of Stellar Fox Journalism?

Appearing on Fox & Friends, Roger Ailes' biographer Zev Chafets joined host Steve Doocy in toasting Fox News' coverage of the so-called Benghazi scandal. Doocy was positively giddy about how Fox had been out way ahead of the mainstream press on the story of last September's terror attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Lybya. The host credited his boss, Ailes, for leading Fox's obsessive Benghazi charge for the last eight months.

“Now everybody else is catching up,” Doocy crowed on May 16.

Chafets agreed (“this is Fox News at its best”) and claimed that the White House had tried to stifle the controversy because “it doesn't obviously want the story to be about its incompetence in a situation in which people could have been saved and evidently nobody tried.”

Did you note the dark irony there? In raising a glass to Fox's Benghazi coverage, Chafets peddled one of Fox's favorite Benghazi lies: “Nobody” had tried to save the Americans who came under deadly fire that night.

Ever since ABC News' bogus “exclusive” last week regarding administration emails about the editing and writing process of the talking points issued in the wake of the Benghazi terror strike, Fox News had been taking one long extended victory tour, claiming its eight-month campaign to demonize the president and to spread nearly nonstop misinformation about the terror attack had been fully vindicated.

“The  mainstream media finally catches up to the Benghazi scandal,” jabbed Chris Wallace on May 10. On America Live, host Martha MacCallum bragged, “When you look at Fox's coverage of Benghazi, we've been establishing the facts from the get-go.” And right-wing blogger Jim Hoft cheered Fox's ball-spiking in the end zone with the headline, “FOX News Gloats Over Benghazi Coverage... We Told You So!”

The Fox team has also been rallied by their Benghazi enablers in Congress, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) insisting Ailes “deserves credit” if there's a full Benghazi investigation. “Thank God for Fox,” cheered Benghazi critic Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

But even the most cursory review of Fox's obsessive Benghazi coverage reveals it to be a train wreck of epic proportions. In fact, it represents a textbook study in why people, and especially journalists, should use extraordinary caution whenever they're tempted to take seriously Fox's editorial content.

More importantly, the ABC exclusive that Fox held up as its Benghazi vindication has since been dismantled. Whereas the original report stressed that the White House had been deeply involved in the editing of the talking points, which bolstered Fox's long-held belief that the administration played politics with the terror attack, we now know ABC got the story wrong. Thanks to the release of the actual emails (with ABC exposed as working off of summaries of those emails, apparently provided by a Republican source), we know there's no evidence of the White House trying to politicize the talking points. (We also know that all the input from the intelligence community at the time reflected their belief that attack may have been part of a spontaneous street demonstration.)

Keep in mind, Fox is where viewers were told President Obama watched the Benghazi attack in real-time via video and refused to send anyone to help Americans. That he had been "absent" the night of the "eight-hour" terror attack. That Obama was guilty of sacrificing American lives for politics,  and he refused to call the event an act of terror. That Gen. David Petraeus was forced to resign as CIA director because of Benghazi. And that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faked her own concussion in order to avoid testifying before Congress about the terror attack.

All those claims were bogus.

And in terms of aborted Fox attempts at actual enterprise journalism, the Washington Post's Erik Wemple had a detailed dissection last October of what at the time was supposed to be a blockbuster Benghazi “exclusive” for the Ailes team.

Published on October 26, the report by Jennifer Griffin claimed that former Navy SEALs, Tyron Woods and Glen Doherty, had been stationed at the CIA's Benghazi annex and on the night of the attack were eager to defend their American colleagues. But the men were ordered to “stand down,” Griffin reported.

The problem with the Fox report? Doherty had actually been 600 miles away in Tripoli on the night of the terror assault, and was part of the team sent to Benghazi to defend the diplomatic facilities, where he was killed in the final attack. According to Wemple, Fox never publicly corrected, or acknowledged, the glaring error. Instead, the erroneous Doherty reference was simply scrubbed from the “exclusive.”

That's the kind of Benghazi journalism Fox has been producing for eight months, and it's nothing to be proud of.