Last week, the media went apoplectic after a 60 Minutes report on the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, turned out to be mistaken. Much of the report was based on the testimony of one Dylan Davies, a security contractor who said that he had climbed over the wall of the consulate in Benghazi and seen the body of Ambassador Chris Stevens. It turned out that Davies was lying, and 60 Minutes was fooled.
Media Matters, which uncovered the lie, promptly declared victory in its war on behalf of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with founder David Brock appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources to proclaim that he was right all along: Benghazi as a whole narrative was a “hoax.” Brock stated:
Everybody who’s followed this story for the past thirteen months knows that the entire scandal is a hoax. The only reason the story exists is partisan politics. Republicans trying to sabotage health care and prevent Hillary Clinton from running for president.
Of course, this is nonsense. But it is also convenient cover for a media looking to ignore Benghazi for as long as possible. The media coverage of Benghazi was abysmal during the initial events of September 2012 and the following weeks leading up to the election. The media focused less on the security failings of the administration and more on the botched public relations campaign of Obama opponent Mitt Romney. Questions about the nature of the administration’s response, including the whereabouts of President Obama during that time, went and remain unanswered. The media refused to acknowledge for weeks at a time that the Obama administration had lied about the motivations behind the Benghazi attacks.
CBS News actively covered up the fact that President Obama refused to call Benghazi terrorism the day after the events in an interview with Steve Kroft, and only released that footage nearly two months later. Candy Crowley of CNN wrongly interjected on behalf of President Obama during the third presidential debate that Obama had in fact called Benghazi an act of terror. Sheryl Attkisson, the CBS News reporter doing investigative work, came under assault from within her own company. Even The New York Times‘ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, admitted that the media downplayed the Benghazi attacks in order to rip Romney:
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 [embassy] apology rather than the misconduct itself….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.
Now, finally, a year later, 60 Minutes covered Benghazi, and got it wrong with one of their sources. Media Matters’ uncovering of that fact shouldn’t be a negative. But it has become a rallying cry for those, including Media Matters, who say that the entirety of the Benghazi story was nonsensical – a pitch Media Matters has been making consistently since its weak ebook, The Benghazi Hoax, by Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt, came out on October 16.
Media Matters has been spinning full time for Hillary Clinton, attempting to put Benghazi to bed and quash any media coverage or investigations of the events of September 11, 2012. As Bradley Beychok, new Media Matters president, told Slate, debunking the 60 Minutes report was “priority one, priority two, and priority three.” That’s because it could have served as the tip of the spear for actual media coverage. Beychok admitted as much: “This is a good example of when we’re able to deploy any and all resources needed on a subject of importance…This is a topic we saw coming–as it’s been in the conservative media for months and months. So we were ready for this.”
This is how Media Matters operates: they find one detail of a story, and then blow it wildly out of proportion in order to discredit the entire narrative. It’s an effective tactic. Slate’s Dave Weigel rightly noted, “Media Matters’ win has to be seen as an early sign of Democratic plotting for 2016…. That’s what Media Matters was built for.” Clinton, Weigel notes, was one of the founding forces behind Media Matters.
CBS News blew it. And CBS News’ big error gave Media Matters and their allies in the leftist media just the excuse they were looking for to tar anyone who wants to know what truly happened in the lead-up, events, and follow-up to Benghazi.
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). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.