On September 12, 2012, CBS News’ Steve Krofft conducted an interview with President Obama. In that interview, Obama suggested that he already knew that the Benghazi assault was a pre-planned terrorist attack. He also placed some blame for the attack on the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video. When CBS aired the interview on 60 Minutes, however, it chose not to air the part of the interview in which Obama suggested that Benghazi was a pre-planned attack. CBS did air Obama’s “shoot first and aim later” attack on Mitt Romney, a quip that has since backfired repeatedly on the president.
In the clip that CBS chose not to air for more than a month, President Obama said: “”You’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt, and my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.”
The attack on the US embassy in Cairo was also a pre-planned attack, as warnings that appeared in Egyptian media made clear on Sept 10.
Two days after the president gave the CBS interview, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would place blame squarely on the YouTube video during her remarks at the transfer of remains ceremony. White House spokesman Jay Carney and Ambassador Susan Rice would go on to sell blame on the movie, not terrorists, for the assault. That campaign would continue until Sept 19, when the Director of the National Terrorism Center, Matt Olsen, testified that the Benghazi sacking was an act of terrorism. Fox reported yesterday that Olsen was reprimanded for that testimony.
CBS kept the clip under wraps until it was embedded in a story on Oct 19.
The CBS clip reaffirms suspicions that the Benghazi cover-up goes to the president himself and his top cabinet officials. After giving those remarks to CBS, the president would refuse to describe the assault as a terrorist attack for weeks. When he addressed the United Nations on Sept. 25, Obama blamed the movie no less than six times.
Yesterday, reacting to news that the White House Situation Room had received emails describing the assault as a terrorist attack two hours into the fateful battle, Secretary of State Clinton accused journalists reporting on those emails of “cherry picking.” That comment indicates that the cover-up continues to this day, despite the fact that the facts and Obama’s Sept 12 comments now clearly show that the administration had evidence that Benghazi was a terrorist attack but chose to blame it on a movie.
CBS’ role raises a number of questions. There is no way that the news network did not know that it had the clip. When networks conduct interviews with newsmakers as important as the sitting president, a team of people will typically see and review those interviews. Producers or interns will log every word spoken, and include timecode positions so editors can quickly find portions of the interview to use in promotional videos and in the product that airs. Those logs are digital files, and will be added to the network’s databases on the person interviewed, topics discussed and other items that can be cross-referenced later. All any producer or editor at CBS had to do was run a quick database search on Obama and Benghazi, and they should have been able to find the clip in which Obama described Benghazi as a terrorist attack on Sept 12.
CBS producers chose to edit Obama’s remarks out of the interview that eventually aired, leaving his salient remarks on the proverbial cutting room floor. Neither the network nor the president referred to them until they were posted online on Oct 19. Why?