Tonight we’ll take apart Ms. Abcarian’s claims that the Obama administration didn’t do anything wrong with respect to Benghazi:
As for Benghazi, no any amount of reporting can change the fact that Hillary Rodham Clinton did not cause the tragedy that befell four Americans at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, nor that the Obama White House did not lie about what happened.
Poor Lara Logan and CBS’ iconic news program, “60 Minutes” are paying the price for falling into the partisan trap.
Will the events of Benghazi affect the presumed White House aspirations of former Secretary of State Clinton? Probably not. The people hammering away on the Benghazi tragedy were never going to support her anyway. And we see that exhaustive reporting, most recently by David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times, has done nothing to quell her critics, who, like Issa, operate purely out of partisan instincts, not a quest for the truth.
Let’s unpack that. Abcarian says “no any amount of reporting” (whatever that means) can change the fact that Hillary Clinton did not “cause” the Benghazi killings. Depending on how you interpret that, it’s either a fantasic strawman or an unproved assertion. Nobody is saying that Hillary Clinton “caused” the deaths; obviously, the terrorist caused the deaths, and saying anything else is a strawman. But did Hillary Clinton contribute to the dangerous situation, through action or inaction? If that is the issue, I submit that it is far from a “fact” that she cannot be blamed in any way.
We have discussed this before, but let’s review. In this post I discussed a December 2011 memo from a State Department bureaucrat who had pledged “to rapidly implement a series of corrective security measures” at Benghazi. It never happened, and former State Department officials say the responsibility lay with Hillary Clinton, who (given applicable protocol) was likely consulted on such a decision. And if she was not, she should have been.
And just today, we see a bipartisan Senate report blaming the Obama administration for not preventing the attack. Again: bipartisan.
So, Ms. Abcarian, is it a “fact” that Hillary Clinton did not cause the deaths? Only in the silly and meaningless sense that she was not personally one of the killers. Otherwise, the evidence is there to suggest she had a role to play in the weakening of security.
As for the “fact” that “the Obama White House did not lie about what happened” . . .
Was Susan Rice part of the Obama White House? Or is Ms. Abcarian doing some Clintonian parsing to claim otherwise. Because here’s what Susan Rice said to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday:
The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video.
This was not a case of misspeaking: Rice said some variant of this on five different shows. On ABC’s This Week, she described it by saying “it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo.” On “Face the Nation” she described it as a “spontaneous protest” and added: “we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.” On “Meet the Press” Rice said that “what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of– of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.” And on CNN’s “State of the Union” Rice described the attack as “that horrific incident where some mob was hijacked ultimately by a handful of extremists.”
As James Rosen reported yesterday, however, newly declassified documents corroborate what widespread reporting had already told us: Obama was told as the attack was happening that it was a terrorist attack — not a “spontaneous protest” as Rice repeatedly described it days later. Rosen says:
Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials — headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama — were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.
Yet Ms. Abcarian describes it as a “fact” that the Obama White House did not lie about Benghazi. What arrant nonsense. “No any” amount of partisan column-writing can change the facts that show they did.
Abcarian makes a big point in her column that the IRS and Benghazi scandals did indeed generate headlines. OK, but what kind of coverage came under those headlines? Unlike the endless pumping of the Christie lane-closure thing, organizations like Abcarian’s L.A. Times were turning out utterly hackish articles. For example, when Greg Hicks testified about how his career was suddenly ruined the second he questioned Rice’s dishonest talking points, the L.A. Times had a headline, all right — but the headline was “Envoy describes night of Benghazi attack.” The article claimed that the heading “shed little new light on the key questions at issue in the hearing: whether there was anything more the U.S. military could have done to thwart the attack and whether the Obama administration intentionally misled the American people” — while never mentioning the fact that Hicks had been attacked and effectively demoted for questioning the White House’s effort to whitewash the affair through misleading talking points. I detailed all this in this outraged post.
As for Abcarian’s statement: “Will the events of Benghazi affect the presumed White House aspirations of former Secretary of State Clinton? Probably not. The people hammering away on the Benghazi tragedy were never going to support her anyway.” Yeah? Will Christie’s scandal affect his presumed White House aspirations? The people hammering away at it were never going to support him anyway. That’s what an airy and dismissive wave of the hand looks like when it’s coming at you, Ms. Abcarian.
As for that Kirkpatrick article, its reporting has been contradicted by witnesses on the ground. Don’t expect to hear that from Ms. Abcarian.
I’ll leave you with this Twitter exchange from today:
— Patterico (@Patterico) January 15, 2014
@Patterico Your implication that my implication is false and misleading is false and misleading.
— Robin Abcarian (@robinabcarian) January 15, 2014
@robinabcarian It wasn't an implication on my part. I guess you figured it would be a better line if you pretended it was? In any event…
— Patterico (@Patterico) January 16, 2014
@robinabcarian …what did I say that was false? Are you claiming you did not imply the IG didn't examine progressives? Or that he didn't?
— Patterico (@Patterico) January 16, 2014
She has not given me an answer and frankly, I doubt I will get one. Surprise me, Ms. Abcarian. Surprise me.
This is what Big Media Arrogance looks like, ladies and gentlemen. That’s it, right there. When they ask for an example in the future, I trust you’ll have this post bookmarked.