The Benghazi scandal has truly become Watergate for the media themselves.
Months too late, and only after stunning revelations from whistleblower after whistleblower, members of the Obama-serving media are beginning to ask the questions they should have asked in the immediate aftermath of the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans by terrorists on September 11, 2012. At the time, the media members (with a few exceptions) were too busy trying to drag President Obama to re-election. Only now that his second term is safe have they begun to do their jobs. Too little, too late.
That became crystal clear on Monday in a blockbuster exchange between a CNN reporter, State Department acting deputy spokesperson Patrick Ventrell, and a Fox News reporter. Ventrell was asked about the latest reports of Benghazi whistleblowers stating that military assets were told to stand down as Americans were killed in Benghazi; Benghazi survivors were silenced by the administration; and the Obama administration changed public talking points to reflect the notion that Benghazi was not a planned terrorist attack. Ventrell pled ignorance: “In terms of these potential transcripts out there, we haven’t seen the transcripts.”
At that point, a CNN reporter piped up, “Yeah, you have. Oh, yes, you have. Come on, Patrick.” Ventrell again denied that he had copies of the transcripts from the whistleblowers. The CNN reporter repeated, “Well, you’ve seen them – I mean, you’ve seen – you know the gist of what they’re saying and what their arguments are.”
“First of all,” the questioner continued, “Greg Hicks makes charges that he thought that there were assets in Libya that could have been able to be sent from Tripoli to Benghazi that night, and they were rejected. I mean, there are numerous charges that he makes.”
That’s when a Fox News reporter interjected. He was obviously frustrated by the fact that the White House has stonewalled the Benghazi situation for months based on the outright lie that this was a ginned-up exercise in partisanship from crazy right-wing Fox News. And he was just as obviously frustrated that only now, after eight months of complete apathy from the water-carrying leftist media, was the leftist media beginning to take notice. “Let the record reflect,” the Fox News reporter said, “that that was CNN asking that question and not Fox News. Please continue.”
And that is the problem. Now and only now are the media interested in what happened in Benghazi. When it was time for the media to expose the facts about Benghazi – when it would have made an electoral difference to inform the American people about the administration’s failure to protect Americans, its alleged failure to send military assets in response to attacks on Americans, and then its outright lies to cover its own ass to win an election – the media played defense for Barack Obama. They ripped then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney for “politicizing” the Benghazi story. They implied there was nothing to see at all. They mirrored the bitingly disgusting words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her hearing before the Senate in January: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
At that point, it would have made a world of difference. Now, with all the responsible parties gone except for the president himself, it will make virtually no difference. That was a calculation those in the media recognized even at the time. They waited until Barack Obama won re-election. They waited until their favorite 2016 candidate, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was out of office. They waited until then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was gone. They waited until Ambassador Susan Rice had been put aside for Senator John Kerry.
Now they’re covering Benghazi. The bodies are in the ground. The terrorists are in the wind. And the media are ensconced in their cozy retreats, finally ready to write about the death of an American ambassador and the failure of the White House’s Middle East policy.
Perhaps late is better than never. But timing matters when it comes to reporting. The media knew that back in September 2012. That’s why they kept their mouths shut and kept repeating over and over again, mantra-like, the words of the White House: Youtube video. Best available information. Politicization. Fox News. Mitt Romney’s fault. Nothing to see here. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.
The American people moved along. But the coffins didn’t. Neither did the survivors. And if no one pays for the lies of this administration in a scandal that dwarfs Watergate in both its consequences and its implications for American foreign policy, that media will have blown its collective last shred of credibility as an independent Fourth Estate.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).