The MSM and Benghazi: Will Their Coverage Harm Obama Administration? (Updated)
We are in the midst of an unfolding and growing scandal, which even the New York Times has been forced to admit in an online report which raises serious doubts about the administration's spin after the embassy attack. Indeed, they emphasized in their headline the demotion of Gregory Hicks for daring to tell the truth -- that from the get-go, everyone in the Benghazi compound described the event as an attack, and never mentioned a protest or a video. Mr. Hicks testified that State Department officials disciplined him for not sticking to the phony narrative told by Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton.
The Times story, then, is a major breakthrough from the MSM's regular pattern of ignoring the contradictions and treating the event as a non-issue.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is certainly correct when he states that the scandal is "every bit as damaging as Watergate." And we know what happened as a result of that cover-up: the impeachment and resignation of the presidency by Richard M. Nixon.
What the future portends depends a great deal on how the regular media treats it.
We must remember that the entire nation does not watch Bret Baier's nightly panel on Fox, which has given Benghazi the most complete coverage and whose panelists regularly discuss developments as they occur. Fox, as expected, led with the hearings and their importance.
Wednesday, the three major MSM networks led their nightly news reports with the kidnapping of the three women who were freed after ten years, putting the Benghazi hearings as their second story.
CBS News offered a solid report from Sharyl Attkisson, who has not shied away from news stories which do not paint the Obama administration in a good light. As the Washington Post recently noted, she has been "a persistent voice of media skepticism about Benghazi." She again made true on that assessment: Attkisson reported on both the issue of the attribution of the attack to the video, and on the other main issue of why military reinforcements were not sent when requested. The network then shifted to another reporter whose story reflected more of the administration's position.
NBC's and ABC's reports were shorter and less informative. But even they could not help but let viewers, who previously may have not thought there was any story remaining, understand that even months after the attack explanations have not been forthcoming. And further, that a cover-up may have taken place at State, and perhaps higher in the administration.
We already have seen -- in the screeds offered by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings -- what will undoubtedly be the Democratic talking points: that the entire hearings amount to an attempt by Republicans to "politicize" a tragedy. Of course, the politicization came from the administration which sought to neutralize and threaten potential whistle-blowers, and who wanted unanimity behind "the video was to blame" narrative.
The Times report bluntly stated the shocking revelation this way:
All three witnesses -- Mr. Hicks, Mr. Nordstrom and Mark I. Thompson ... insisted that the inflammatory anti-Islamic YouTube video that the White House initially blamed for the attack was something they never considered a factor in the assault on the compound. ... It has become clear that American officials on the ground and in Washington immediately believed the attackers were terrorists, not demonstrators who turned violent, as Mrs. Rice alleged in a series of Sunday talk show interviews. ... "I was stunned," Mr. Hicks said when asked what he thought when he heard Ms. Rice's explanation. "My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed."