The Washington Post's Erik Wemple highlighted how Fox News' coverage of Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi “is promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton” during her presidential run, and how the network, in doing so, is “acting as an advocacy organization.”
Fox News has hyped 13 Hours repeatedly, claiming that the film would “raise a lot of questions” about the 2012 attacks on a diplomatic post and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi. In addition to using the movie to push the debunked “stand down order” myth, Fox has argued that Bay's film could “pose a threat” to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Fox's Andrea Tantaros argued, “if anyone sees this movie ... and then goes on to vote for Hillary Clinton, they're a criminal.” Prime-time host Megyn Kelly, during a segment that pushed multiple Benghazi myths, said the movie “reintroduces Benghazi as a potential campaign issue that cannot be helpful to Mrs. Clinton.” Kelly also attacked Wemple for a blog post that called out Kelly and her network's “obsession” with the Benghazi attacks and their potential political implications for Clinton.
In a January 19 piece for The Washington Post's Erik Wemple blog, Wemple explained again how 13 Hours “is giving the network a do-over opportunity” to “attempt to elevate the flick as a political watershed” and “revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton.” Wemple noted that by “rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate,” Fox has failed at “acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise.” Wemple concluded that any movie that negatively highlighted the Obama administration “could surely bank on similar excitement from the country's No. 1 cable news outfit”:
On her program, [Megyn] Kelly criticized the Erik Wemple Blog for a Jan. 5 post we'd written about the love affair of Fox News with the new Michael Bay movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.” That movie is based on a book of similar title written by Boston University professor Mitchell Zuckoff and a team of security operators who were on the ground on the night of the tragic Benghazi, Libya, attacks of Sept. 11, 2012. The book carried a number of revelations -- including the claim of the security contractors that they were told to “stand down” before rushing to assist personnel at the besieged U.S. diplomatic outpost -- that made news upon its publication in 2014. Fox News was particularly aggressive in promoting the book.
“13 Hours” the movie is giving the network a do-over opportunity. The network is frequently running clips of the movie, interviewing the security operators -- particularly Mark “Oz” Geist, Kris “Tanto” Paronto and John “Tig” Tiegen -- and otherwise attempting to elevate the flick as a political watershed. On her Jan. 4 program, Kelly herself led into an interview with this trio by saying, “Breaking tonight a 'Kelly File' exclusive on the gripping new film that may pose a threat to Hillary Clinton's hopes for the White House.” There was really nothing “breaking” that night -- just a rehash of the same news threads that had been aired at the time of the book's release.
On her program last night, Kelly disagreed with that point of view. “Wemple of the Washington Post seems to have an issue,” said the host in a segment with Fox Newsers Chris Stirewalt and Howard Kurtz. “We did that interview with those three heroes and the feedback we received from the viewers was extraordinary. They wanted to know more. They wanted to know how they could help these guys. They couldn't wait to see this movie. Wemple has a different reaction, which was, '[dismissive sound effect] What did we learn that was new?' I've got news for you, Erik Wemple. You go and you sit through '13 Hours.' You sit there, white-knuckled. When you can't move at the end of it, and a tear comes to your eye, unless you're not human. And you tell me whether this is going to have no impact on the story of Benghazi, which is relevant in this 2016 presidential campaign.”
Now to the heart of Kelly's criticism. She demands, “And you tell me whether this is going to have no impact on the story of Benghazi, which is relevant in this 2016 presidential campaign.” We have no opinion or projection on whether or not the “13 Hours” movie will have an impact on the ongoing presidential race, nor whether it should have such an impact. Our point is narrower: That Fox News, even after hyping the bona fide revelations in the book version of “13 Hours,” is promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton. In so doing, Fox News isn't acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise; it's acting as an advocacy organization, verily rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate. If Bay could only produce a Hollywood reenactment of Obamacare's lowest moments or of the failures of the president's Islamic State policy, he could surely bank on similar excitement from the country's No. 1 cable news outfit.