The PJ Tatler

Was CNN's Reporting of Ambassador Steven's Journal Really 'Indefensible'?

The US State Department is blasting CNN for reporting about the journal of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, which the network’s reporter found in the sacked consulate compound a few days after his murder by terrorists.

The news channel, in a story posted online Saturday, said that it found a journal belonging to Stevens four days after he died in a Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Three other Americans also were killed.

CNN broke a pledge to the late ambassador’s family that it wouldn’t report on the diary, said State Department spokesman Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In a blistering statement, Reines called CNN’s actions “indefensible.”

It’s worth noting that Reines isn’t exactly a voice of reason or professionalism. When a BuzzFeed reporter queried him about related issues over the weekend via email, rather than answer questions Reines told that reporter to “f*&* off.”

The journal itself is not a personal diary of Stevens’ poetyy and inner life. It’s a professional journal of his observations about the state of play in the country to which he was the US ambassador. CNN found it in that compound because the US government had not secured that compound, even several days after the attack. The US government still has not secured that compound, and we reportedly lost a great deal of sensitive intelligence and information that our enemies will find useful. CNN actually did the nation and Stevens’ family a favor, finding the journal, keeping it out of enemy hands, and then returning to Stevens’ family. CNN also reported on what had transpired, which is what news organizations do.

During the time that CNN found and reported on the journal, the US State Department was selling the world a version of the attack that has turned out to be entirely untrue: That it was a spontaneous response to a movie, and not a pre-planned terrorist assassination. Stevens’ journal said otherwise. In it, Stevens wrote that he knew that he was on an al Qaeda hit list. The State Department’s fable about the attack, and its vigorous criticism of CNN, reads now like cover-up to keep foreign policy out of the presidential campaign and to protect Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s political future.

CNN’s actions were not just defensible, they were right. It’s the State Department that has behaved and continues to behave indefensibly.