On CNN’s “State of the Union” on September 30, Candy Crowley insisted David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s chief strategist, was wrong when Axelrod tried to claim President Barack Obama called the Benghazi attack “an act of terror” on the day after.
“First, they said it was not planned, it was part of this tape,” Crowley said when Axelrod tried to spin her.
This was Crowley the journalist, unlike the pro-Obama advocate who moderated Tuesday’s debate between Obama and Mitt Romney and interjected herself into an argument between Obama and Romney on the exact same issue — and took Obama’s side.
During the debate, Crowley affirmed Obama’s assertion that he referred to the Benghazi attacks as acts of terror on the day after.
After Romney correctly said it took Obama 14 days before Obama said the the Benghazi attacks were acts of terror, Crowley took Obama’s side — to an ovation from the town hall audience — and she proclaimed Obama had indeed claimed the Benghazi attacks were acts of terror the day after the attacks in the White House Rose Garden.
On September 12, the day after the attacks, Obama did say the words “acts of terror” but he was not referring to the attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
Crowley knew that on September 30 and she conceded it again hours after the debate when she went on CNN and said while Romney “was right in the main, but he just chose the wrong word.” But the damage had already been done.
With Obama’s reelection on the line, Crowley seemed to have conveniently forgotten the facts she knew two weeks before when she grilled Axelrod in a way she should have Obama.
Here is how Crowley questioned Axelrod then:
CROWLEY: … There’s a back and forth now about why didn’t this administration — why did it take them until Friday after a September 11th attack in Libya to come to the conclusion that it was premeditated and that there was terrorists involved. John McCain said it doesn’t pass the smell test, or it’s willful ignorance to think that they didn’t know before this what was going on. Your reaction?
AXELROD: Well, first of all, Candy, as you know, the president called it an act of terror the day after it happened. But when you’re the responsible party, when you’re the administration, then you have a responsibility to act on what you know and what the intelligence community believes. This was — this is being thoroughly investigated.
When Axelrod tried to tell Crowley that the “president called it an act of terror the day after it happened,” Crowley rejected the spin and corrected Axelrod, telling him that Obama said the the attacks were not “planned” and was “part of this tape,” in reference to the obscure anti-Muhammad Internet video the Obama administration blamed:
CROWLEY: First, they said it was not planned, it was part of this tape. All that stuff.
AXELROD: As the director of national intelligence said on Friday, that was the original information that that was given to us. What we don’t need is a president or an administration that shoots first and asks questions later.
Crowley then accused the Obama administration of shooting first (not telling Americans terrorists were behind the Benghazi attacks) and asking questions later, which is what Obama accused Romney of doing when Romney released a statement
CROWLEY: But isn’t that what happened?
AXELROD: And, you know, Governor Romney leaped out on this Libya issue on the first day, and was terribly mistaken about what he said. That is not what you want in a president of the United States. And as for Senator McCain, for whom I have great respect, he has disapproved of our approach to Libya from the beginning, including the strategy that brought Gadhafi to justice.
Crowley then called out Axelrod’s spin again, saying the administration initially insisted the terrorist attacks were not preplanned:
CROWLEY: But this has to do not with the approach to Libya but with the murder of four Americans in Libya. And didn’t the administration shoot first? Didn’t they come out and say, listen, as far as we can tell, this wasn’t preplanned, this was just a part of —
AXELROD: At this point, this is what we know, and we are thoroughly investigating. And that’s exactly what you should do. That’s what the responsible thing to do is. I was kind of shocked to see Representative King attack Ambassador Rice for what she said last Sunday here and elsewhere, because she was acting on the intelligence that was given to her by the intelligence community. To say she should resign — she is one of the most remarkable, splendid public servants we have. That’s thoroughly irresponsible.