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The 2014 Duranty Award Winner: David M. Kirkpatrick’s ‘A Deadly Mix in Benghazi’

The transcript of Roger Kimball's speech announcing this year's unanimous Duranty Award winner.

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Roger Kimball

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May 7, 2014 - 10:57 am
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“O what a tangled web we weave/ when first we practice to deceive.”

The best authorities tell me that Sir Walter Scott did not in fact have the administration of Barack Obama in mind when he wrote those lines. Nor, I suppose, did the later wit who completed Scott’s lines with the observation: “But when we practice quite a while/ how vastly we improve our style.” Still, I am struck by the uncanny pertinence of that ditty to what was, for a few nanoseconds, described by some as “the most transparent administration in history.”

We award the Duranty Prizes for conspicuous achievement in the field of journalistic mendacity. Were we to broaden the Prizes to include political mendacity, the Obama administration would afford an embarrassment, not of riches, exactly, but certainly a plethora of tempting candidates for one or more Duranty awards. Remember: if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period; remember, too, that there is not a “smidgeon of corruption” in the IRS — just ask Lois Lerner, if you can get her to ditch taking the Fifth Amendment for a moment; and remember that massacre in Benghazi and those riots in Cairo on September 11, 2012 — September 11, mind you — they of course were sparked by a sophomoric internet video about a notorious medieval anti-Semite and pedophile. Those riots and that massacre had absolutely nothing to do with any failure of Obama’s policies with respect to the Islamic world: how could they? Obama himself has “decimated” al-Qaeda — he told us himself, just as he had told us as far back as 2007 that “Muslim hostility” toward the U.S. “would cease” the day — the very day! — he was inaugurated. Al-Qaeda was “on the run.” I am only surprised that he didn’t add: “Period.” Of course, the families of the victims of the shooting at Fort Hood, the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and the massacre at Benghazi might have something to say about that contention — but dude, that was all ages ago.

Well, there is a lot more I could say about the most transparent administration in history. And as it happens, this year’s First Prize winner of the Walter Duranty Award for Journalistic Mendacity has earned his laurel crown for aiding and abetting one critical — and indeed, ongoing — episode of the Obama administration’s fraud and dissimulation practiced against the American people. I mean the many centrifuges of spin, lies, stonewalling, and cover-ups that have emanated from the administration about Benghazi since the White House was first informed that Someone Had Blundered on September 11, 2012, even as former Navy SEALs Ty Woods and Glen Doherty were still fighting for their lives in that CIA annex in Libya.

It was partly to shore up the Obama administration’s narrative about Benghazi, and partly to pave the way for the possible return of “What-Difference-Does-it-Make” Hillary Clinton, that the New York Times published David M. Kirkpatrick’s extraordinary saga “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi” on December 28, 2013.

You know from the citations my fellow judges have supplied for the runners-up that this was a year rich in journalistic mendacity. But we all felt that David Kirkpatrick was the clear winner, and indeed a worthy successor to the eponymous inspiration for this Prize, Walter Duranty, who telegraphed back to the Times’ readers in 1933 the grateful news that: “Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.” Modern estimates put the death toll of Stalin’s deliberately engineered terror famine somewhere north of 7,000,000. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize  in 1932 for his reporting from the Soviet Union, which I think provides a good sense of exactly what that honor is worth. For its part, the New York Times has resisted repeated calls to revoke Duranty’s award, perhaps feeling that once started down that slippery slope they would not know where to end.

One of the most impressive things about “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi” is its detail. The long piece is divided into six chapters, from “Warning Signs” through “Bedlam” and “Aftermath.” It is accompanied by dramatic photographs, maps, and schematic drawings. The internet version boasts various animated graphics. The essay practically screams: “Please consider me for a Pultizer!”

I doubt that will happen, partly because the ink was not yet dry on the fish-wrap before its central contentions were authoritatively disputed, and partly because the abundance of detail is little more than an insubstantial smokescreen.

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Top Rated Comments   
Here is what the Ace has selectively extracted (with apparent glee) his information from which makes it clear that the administration was caught so totally unprepared that the resultant dithering, detachment, confusion, and circus quality of the response had the impact of a "stand down".

"The committee summed up its investigation to date in six findings:

I. In assessing military posture in anticipation of the September 11 anniversary, White House officials failed to comprehend or ignored the dramatically deteriorating security situation in Libya and the growing threat to U.S. interests in the region. Official public statements seem to have exaggerated the extent and rigor of the security assessment conducted at the time.

II. U.S. personnel in Benghazi were woefully vulnerable in September 2012 because a.) the administration did not direct a change in military force posture, b.) there was no intelligence of a specific “imminent” threat in Libya, and c.) the Department of State, which has primary responsibility for diplomatic security, favored a reduction of Department of Defense security personnel in Libya before the attack.

III. Defense Department officials believed nearly from the outset of violence in Benghazi that it was a terrorist attack rather than a protest gone awry, and the President subsequently permitted the military to respond with minimal direction.

IV. The U.S. military’s response to the Benghazi attack was severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces, and because of lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding. However, given the uncertainty about the prospective length and scope of the attack, military commanders did not take all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.

V. There was no “stand down” order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi. However, because official reviews after the attack were not sufficiently comprehensive, there was confusion about the roles and responsibilities of these individuals.

VI. The Department of Defense is working to correct many weaknesses revealed by the Benghazi attack, but the global security situation is still deteriorating and military resources continue to decline."
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Im starting to feel for the families of the four killed in benghazi... they arent going to get any peace until every last ounce of political gain is extracted from their sons (brothers...husbands...) deaths.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
And just touching on one bit of humour in this blog post... Roger criticizes this rare act of journalism because its "central contentions were authoritatively disputed" by R pols shortly after its publication, in particular in a House Intelligence Service Committee report. He then asserts the zombie claim that "There was a “stand-down” order issued". Problem is, that bit of "mendacity" was "authoritatively disputed" by the same House Intelligence Committee report! As reported here at PJM, that report concluded that: "V. There was no “stand down” order issued".

http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2014/02/11/new-benghazi-report-finds-severely-degraded-readiness-and-a-pentagon-struggling-to-catch-up/

Lol!
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
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Progressives (i.e., social democrats) believe that the State has rights. It appears now that the most prestigious academics believe themselves to be arms of the State, reflected in public radio and television, not just the schools. For a frank statement of progressive hegemony in academe see http://clarespark.com/2014/04/12/the-organization-of-american-historians-taking-sides/. Roger Kimball has been writing about this for decades in his discussion of "tenured radicals." Then they go into journalism and onto the internet to spread the word.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why issue a stand-down order when there are no assets close enough to matter?

They made sure of that.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm betting that the reason no military help was sent is because only the Commander in Chief can issue the order. And I'm betting the CIC had left orders not to be disturbed as he slept to prepare himself for that big fundraiser in Vegas. And I'm betting some guard dog was making sure the CIC was not awoken. I bet her name is Jarett. The one that cannot be thrown under the bus.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
The worse, I think, is that even ol' McCain got it right immediately when he said people don't show up to a spontaneous film critique with mortars and heavy machine guns.

For all the leftist journos that like to paint McCain as a tottering idiot (something they do with all aging Republicans), he still has more neurons firing than the lot of MSM put together
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
@Ace711: PJMedia has made it and "Benghazi" has got SOMEBODY really shook. The Leftist trolls have been dispatched to muddy things up; that SOMEBODY is paying attention and trying-out different counter-arguments. We're seeing similar on other blogs.

Hey Ace, dude. Why don't you and Vietor form a comedy duo? You could bill yourselves as, "The Flying Obamenghazi Bros."
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Want to see what this Kirkpatrick monster looks like? Here you go:
http://legalinsurrection.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/David_Kirkpatrick_Benghazi.jpg

Shame him. Without mercy.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
The NYT piece is bunk because it didn't tell us where Obama was that night? Who cares?

Four people died. So we should obsess over the finer details of the talking points and the President's second-by-second physical whereabouts? Ridiculous, and I'm glad TMZ-style reactions to terrorist attacks werent yet fashionable in 1983 or we would have impeached Reagan for Beirut.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
A bit of a difference there. Reagan did not cover up the fact the the Beirut attack was a Hezbollah job. He retaliated too.

A Marine camp is not exatly devoid of security and defences either.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Im starting to feel for the families of the four killed in benghazi... they arent going to get any peace until every last ounce of political gain is extracted from their sons (brothers...husbands...) deaths.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spoken like a true Democrat. How about "the truth", "accountability" and "justice"? Would that give the family some peace?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've felt that way ever since Hilliary told them, they'd get the man responsible for making that video.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Typo: “Please consider me for a Pultizer!”
Should be: “Please consider me for a Pulitzer!”
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
PJM: too bad there isn't a "thumbs down" option for comments...
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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