Politico: Media Didn't Ignore Benghazi

Politico’s Dylan Byers, in a piece for his buddies in the MSM, declares that conservative criticism of the mainstream media is overblown. Byers writes:

So often conservative media, like conservative media criticism, can't be taken seriously because it overplays its hand. Like someone who shouts "thief!" the second his keys go missing, much of the conservative echo-chamber has a hyper-aggressive penchant to see conspiracy where they'd do better to see questions in need of answers. As a general rule -- albeit with plenty of exceptions -- there is a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach among those who fashion themselves as "anti-MSM," which can cloud the evidence-gathering process.

Byers quotes The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf, calling him a “member of the up-and-coming post-movement conservative crew.” Friedersdorf wrote:

Effective media criticism must be specific and accurate. As noted, I have no doubt that there are any number of problems with "MSM" coverage of Benghazi. But a refusal to take the story seriously isn't one of them. The notion that the story has been ignored is fantastical and discrediting. The notion that the entire "MSM" is engaged in a coverup is idiotic. And when your overall media narrative is wrong, your media criticism is going to suffer. Insofar as people like me tuned out the story, it is largely because so much of the conservative commentary was implausible, right from the first time that Mitt Romney accused his opponent of sympathizing with the terrorists.

Consider the referral to Friedersdrof, who was an intern for Andrew Sullivan, as a “conservative” source.  As Mediate wrote of Friedersdorf in 2010:

Friedersdorf, a former Sullivan intern, has made a name for himself over the last two years as one of the most promising conservative writers and thinkers.  He writes at the American Scene, Forbes, Daily Beast, and the late True/Slant and was involved in the well-thought of, but failed, Culture 11. His take-downs o Mark Levin and Andrew Breitbart, as well as concern over conservatism’s “narrative” problem have given him a major following and reputation.

But we digress. Let us enlighten Byers to the scope of the MSM’s betrayal of the public trust, with some added help from the Media Research Council. We’ll leave Politico’s own egregious bias for the end.

A chronology of the TV networks coverage of Benghazi after 9/11/12.

The networks immediately pilloried Mitt Romney the day after the attack for his comments lambasting the Obama Administration for allowing a statement that apologized for the infamous YouTube video.

NBC’s Brian Williams: “Romney is taking fire tonight for the way he went on the attack politically.... Somehow [Romney] wanted today to be about America apologizing for its values, even after it became clear today was about the death of an American ambassador and others.”

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley: “Democrats said the Governor had injected politics into a tragedy.”

Diane Sawyer of ABC’s World News: “Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney under fire for comments he made about the upheaval as it was unfolding.”

How much time did the networks spend condemning Romney as opposed to the failure of Obama’s policies in the Middle East? Almost ten minutes on Romney; twenty-five seconds on Obama. That’s a ratio of 20 to 1.

How long did it take the networks to report that the Administration had lied about whether the attack was a terrorist attack?

September 14: Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “We have no information to suggest that it was a pre-planned attack.” September 16: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, on Meet The Press, “This is a response to a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world....This is a spontaneous reaction to the video.” September 26: Newsweek/Daily Beast correspondent Eli Lake reported: “within 24 hours of the 9/11 anniversary attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, U.S. intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda-affiliated operatives were behind the attack, and had even pinpointed the location of one of those attackers.”

Thus the Obama administration had information that was contrary to Carney and Rice’s statements before they spoke, yet even after the Lake story, ABC didn’t report it for a day and a half, and NBC waited two and half days, until the word came down and the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper ran out to take the hit. CBS never even ran a full story about the issue. None of the networks ever ran follow-up stories or covered in depth the fact that someone had deceived the public.

By October 10, when the House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing occurred, the information had been disseminated that requests for more security in Libya had been denied by Obama’s State Department. ABC and CBS had reported this, but Obama-mouthpiece NBC never mentioned it until the morning of the hearings.

On October 23, the CBS Evening News reported that State Department e-mails during the September 11 attack spoke of the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia’s claim of responsibility, revealing that Obama administration knew very soon after the attack that it was launched by terrorists. But the next morning, NBC’s Today show ignored the information, and ABC’s Good Morning America spent 35 seconds on it. Even the next day, after CBS and NBC reported more on the report on their evening newscasts, ABC’s World News spent 20 seconds on it, and that was to report that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had dismissed the significance of the e-mails. (But ABC did have time that week for stories about the a monkey capture (1 minute, 42 seconds) and whether dogs yawn when people do (1 minute 47 seconds).

October 26: Fox News Channel’s Jennifer Griffin reported that officers at the nearby CIA annex in Benghazi were twice told to stand down when asked to help the consulate. Obama was asked by a Denver reporter about it the same day and said:

The minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to....I guarantee you that everyone in the State Department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe.

This flatly contradicted Fox’s report, yet the big three networks never explored the issue in the next week. The only time it was mentioned on the networks was when Carly Fiorina mentioned it on NBC’s Meet the Press. Moderator David Gregory interrupted, saying, “We’ll get to Libya a little bit later.” He never did. Fiorina’s brief mention was the last word on Libya during the hour-long program.

By May, 2013, and the congressional hearings on  the Benghazi attack, little had changed. On May 8, between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., CNN spent 4 hours, 9 minutes on the Jodi Arias trial and the Cleveland abduction stories, and eight minutes to Benghazi, That’s a 30 to 1 ration. Anderson Cooper 360 never mentioned Benghazi in two hours of coverage. Piers Morgan Live? Not a second.

As for the New York Times, whose bias is denied by Friedersdorf in his piece? They admitted their culpability themselves regarding their coverage of the IRS scandal. Their own public editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote:

I agree that The Times seemed to play down the story originally, placing it inside the paper and emphasizing the second-day angle of the apology rather than the misconduct itself. In Monday’s paper, the headline, as [journalist Jeff] Greenfield noted, emphasized the Republicans seizing on the issue rather than the widening problem. A Wall Street Journal front-page headline, by contrast, read, “Wider Problems Found at IRS.” Many on the right – as noted last week in my blog posts about Benghazi – do not think they can get a fair shake from The Times. This coverage won’t do anything to dispel that belief.

Oh, yes . . . Politico. On September 12, the day after the Benghazi attack and Romney’s statements, Politico managed to run no less than four separate stories in which they implied Republicans were sawing off the limb behind Romney for his statements:

  1. There has not been a swell of statements defending Romney so far today -- how many there will be at the end of the day could help determine how he fares after these next few days.”
  2. Most Republicans ‘reacted responsibly, waiting to find out the facts before they talk, making sure that our number one priority is the safety and security of American personnel,’ Obama said, according to Carney. ‘It appears that Gov. Romney didn’t have his facts right.’”
  3. Senior Republicans on Capitol Hill are leaving GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney out on a limb after he criticized President Barack Obama’s ‘disgraceful’ handling of the assault on the U.S. embassy in Libya, which led to the death of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens.”
  4. “’I was thinking as he spoke, I think I belong to the old school of thinking that in times of great drama and heightened crisis, and in times when something violent has happened to your people, I always think discretion is the better way to go,’ Noonan said. ‘When you step forward in the midst of a political environment and start giving statements on something dramatic and violent that has happened, you're always leaving yourself open to accusations that you are trying to exploit things politically.’”

But Byers’ whining over conservative criticism of the mainstream media is an old meme with him; on September 15, 2012, only four days after the Benghazi attack, he wrote a piece moaning about it. It started like this:

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the Republican playbook: In times of political crisis, blame the liberal mainstream media. 

Whether justified or not — and it varies — attacks against the press have served as a conservative defense mechanism for decades...  

Where there’s some, there’s fire, Mr. Byers. And the American public is fed up with what the MSM has been smoking.

Politico: Media Didn't Ignore Benghazi


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