The Media Matters campaign to portray anyone with questions about the September 11, 2012, attacks on Benghazi as madcap extremists entered fever-pitch territory in December.
It ended the year by condemning the Daily Beast‘s Eli Lake for having any questions about what it insists was a “hoax.”
The New York Times‘s exhaustive examination of facts on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, when Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed appeared to have brought a breath of fresh air to Media Matters’s frothing-at-the-mouth insistence that Benghazi doesn’t matter. The report, which heavily implies that Stevens’s naivety about Libya played a major part in the attack, gave way to a New Year’s Eve Media Matters attack in which anyone who questioned the presence of al-Qaeda members at the attack was participating in the “denial of reality” it claims is common in right-wing circles.
The website celebrated the report as gospel, refusing to engage in the nuanced questions that it presented without quite answering them, questions such as, “Who gets to call themselves al-Qaeda?” and “Why, if he was so naive, did the State Department trust Christopher Stevens so much?” Or, “Where is the Secretary of State in the Times report when one of her subordinates is murdered on her watch?”
Media Matters then accused those with questions about the violent uprising in that city as wanting to know the truth to “try to end any potential presidential run by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before it can begin,” rather than having a genuine question of national security.
This attack is especially pivotal in understanding Media Matters because it exposes, not what the nonpartisan coalition of public thinkers who want answers on Benghazi want, but what Media Matters sees in this story. There is no evidence it sees what most should – dead public officials in an attack only vaguely explained by a government supposedly accountable to the people. Instead it sees a story that might hurt Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run.
Also, it sees a way to hawk its new e-book, which will make your pocket a dollar lighter. Yes, Media Matters is trying to convince people to pay for a book that promises its interpretation of Benghazi – the interpretation that is abundantly clear in the nineteen stories the website wrote about Benghazi in December, a series which will tell you all you need to know about its version of the facts. To get an idea of what Media Matters thinks Benghazi is about, note that fifteen of those nineteen stories mention Fox News.
There is rightfully a large volume of speculation nationally as to what should have been done to prevent the Benghazi attacks, why they happened, and what happened that day at all. This is natural because the Obama administration has been especially closed-lipped about the situation. When an ambassador dies and the State Department seems to have no coherent response to questions on how it let its staffer die, theories based on research will replace that void into which an official explanation should have gone. Honest reporters and correspondents with a record of liberal ideas tend to agree that Benghazi is a legitimate scandal that deserves attention. Hacks pretend that there is nothing to see here and the Obama administration is in the clear, and claim only “crazies” want answers to how our President can leave our ambassadors so open to attack abroad.