Media Sends Dangerous Message Giving Obama Pass On Libya Cover Up
While much of the media has done a pretty good job of covering the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, including the fact that the White House lacks credibility with respect to a week-long narrative that blamed the attack on a YouTube video, nothing we've seen thus far from the media indicates that Obama will be made to pay a political price for a week of lies told by this administration. And this is a purely political and partisan choice the media's making … and a dangerous one.
As we've seen with Mitt Romney, when properly motivated, the media can exact a heavy price from a politician over a sin found unpardonable. We saw this with Romney's taxes, Clint Eastwood's chair, Romney's statement the day after the Libya attack, the "47 percent video" and even swing state polls that show Romney behind. What the media's done with each of these stories is come together as one to use them as bludgeons to beat Romney senseless.
This, however, is not happening over a story the media should be outraged over -- the Libya cover up. Yes, the media's dutifully reporting on the story, and as you'll see below with CNN's Erin Burnett, even using the term "cover up." But as of now, there's been no bruising narrative, no call for the White House to come clean, and no demand for Obama to call a press conference and answer questions.
What the White House hit us with wasn't just spin either. In that clip, CNN's own foreign affairs correspondent reports that her sources told her within 24 hours that Benghazi was a terror attack. So she knows what the White House knew and therefore knew that the narrative spun out of the White House for eight days was a bald-faced lie.
Moreover, CNN isn't the only outlet with knowledge that the White House knew within 24 hours that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Numerous outlets -- not just Fox News -- reported within 24 hours that terrorists were behind the attack.
And yet, this very same media apparently had no problem being lied to for a week and still has no problem with it. Worse, even as the media reports on the Libya cover up, they obviously have no intention to hold anyone accountable for it.
And these were lies coming from the White House; not spin -- lies. Five days after the attack, when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told numerous news outlets that the White House had no evidence that the attack was anything more than a protest gone bad -- she was lying:
FACE THE NATION - 9/16/2012:
SUSAN RICE: We do not-- we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY - 9/16/2012:
SUSAN RICE: We don't see at this point -- signs that this was a coordinated, pre-meditated attack.
If that's not bad enough, White House spokesman Jay Carney lied directly to the White House Press Corps:
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING - 9/14/2012:
JAY CARNEY: You know, we have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack. …
JAY CARNEY: We do not, at this moment, have information to suggest or to tell you that would indicate that any of this unrest was preplanned.
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING - 9/19/2012:
CARNEY: All I can tell you is that based on the information that we had then and have now we do not yet have indication that it was pre-planned or pre-meditated.
These are not examples of spin or half-truths or even little white lies; these are outright lies -- concrete examples of the two high-placed administration officials speaking on behalf of a White House that knew what we were being told was not true.
Three, five, and eight days later, the White House was declaratively stating there was no intelligence stating that what happened in Benghazi was anything other than a spontaneous protest gone bad. Now we know the White House most certainly had intelligence stating Benghazi was terrorism. In fact, it now looks as though that was the only intelligence the White House had.
For just a moment, let's forget politics; let's forget about the election and let's forget Republican vs. Democrat. Instead, let's talk about what's healthy for our democracy.
During the Bush administration, the media was most certainly biased and most certainly over-hyped any little thing they felt might hurt Bush -- no question about it. But during the Bush-era, I was at least able to relax, safe in the knowledge that the White House was being closely watched and scrutinized. There was a very real and healthy benefit found in the media's zeal to bring Bush down.
But the message the media is sending now is just the opposite: The media's telling powerful Democrats, including a sitting president, that when politics are on the line, you can pretty much do whatever you please. Lie to us, betray us, and then cover it all up -- no problem, because we want to get you over the finish line.
This isn't media bias; it's something much more sinister. It's being accessories after-the-fact – willing co-conspirators in a cover up. And the message it sends is what's most troubling, because if the powerful in either party can ever count on the fact -- that for whatever reason -- the watchdogs are willing to look away, there's no telling where it might lead.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC