Remember benghazi

On the day before the 2012 presidential election, MSNBC’s Morning Joe discussed Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout in Florida. Joe Scarborough, a former Florida congressman and current host of a show on the liberal MSNBC who is widely regarded as one of the sanest conservative commentators, had this to say in response to the question:

I have only three words for you: Benghazi, Benghazi, and Benghazi. Benghazi! The events in Benghazi must not be forgotten. Benghazi must not be forgotten! What is it about Benghazi that you wish to hide? Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! … Incessant questions of “What the hell happened in Benghazi?”

Scarborough may have guessed that the Republicans didn’t care that much about the voter-suppression efforts in Florida, so he gave almost no coverage to the story that morning. Public Policy Polling found the following spring that 74% of Republicans surveyed thought the Benghazi crisis and alleged cover-up was “worse than Watergate.” Evidently, nearly half of them did not know where or what Benghazi was.

As tragic as the events in Benghazi were, the media’s coverage has always been farcical. Most people think this whole thing is a black eye for Barack Obama’s presidency. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, the ur-insiders of the election, make fun of the Romney campaign in their book Double Down for failing to capitalise on what they call “a horrendous failure on the part of the administration” without providing any evidence for their claim. When Lara Logan’s stupid report on 60 Minutes promoted the version of events put forth by the apparently pathological British security contractor Dylan Davies, whose lies had already been trumpeted in a book published by Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS, the network was brought shame.

Who exactly is in charge of the security at our overseas embassies and consulates? The head of state? Who is the state secretary? Is this the tier at which decisions are made, for instance, regarding the optimal number and placement of security personnel? Surely someone else should have the final say on this. Why is it so complicated?

We no longer have to speculate about the essential facts of the attack because New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick spent months investigating what happened that day and returned with a 7,000-plus-word story titled “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi.” Despite the media’s insistence on Republican accusations, Kirkpatrick has disproved nearly all of them with hard data. Notably, the narrative that the attack was not a largely spontaneous popular reaction to an offensive anti-Islamic YouTube video that had only recently appeared on the Internet, but rather had been meticulously planned and executed in conjunction with Al Qaeda, was widely disseminated.

Republican responses to the Times story once again proved that the party’s presentation of the issues is completely unaffected by “reality” as it is commonly understood. After being shown the Times’ evidence on Meet the Press, California Representative Darrell Issa, the (scary) head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, gave the following muddled explanation: “There was a group there that was involved that is linked to Al Qaeda.” What we didn’t say is that we had intelligence on the specifics of Al Qaeda’s correspondence, and unlike other members of Congress I didn’t have security check behind the door. Never have I claimed responsibility for finding this data. Even more frightening is the fact that Michigan Representative Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, lied on Fox News, saying that Kirkpatrick “didn’t talk to the people on the ground who were doing the fighting and shooting and the intelligence gathering.” We are aware of the plot to attack Libya by Al Qaeda and its Libyan affiliates.

In keeping with the general consensus among conservative commentators, Rogers maintained that the Times investigation was nothing more than an effort to “clear the deck” for a possible Hillary Clinton presidential run. Howard Kurtz, a former media critic for the Washington Post who is now a hack for Fox News, echoed the scepticism of these conservative commentators and Republican politicians by saying that the paper’s report reflects the critic’s political leanings.

You can put aside the fact that the Times is well-known for torturing Hillary Clinton over the unimportant Whitewater real estate deals and the impeachment of her husband. The fact that the Times’ editorial board operates independently from the newsroom is irrelevant. That the Times article provided evidence supporting one interpretation of a historical event, while the counterargument provided nothing but hyperbole and baseless accusations, is of course irrelevant. The liars are well aware that in 2014 political campaigns in the United States, either strategy is equally effective.

Meanwhile, Steve Benen of notes that ten of the thirteen most recognisable faces on the Sunday shows in the past year belonged to Republicans. If Meet the Press, television’s most prestigious pundit programme, as has been rumoured, gives Joe Scarborough a regular hosting role sometime later this year, the scales will tip even further in favour of the nutjob party.

The most famous woman in the world, KAMALA HARRIS, declared in “The Nation” that “this is the beginning of the next era of the labour movement.”


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E. Eric Alterman, M.D.

Among Eric Alterman’s many contributions to TWITTERnation is his newsletter “Altercation” for The American Prospect. He is a distinguished professor of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and the author of several books, the most recent of which is titled Lying in State: Why Presidents Lie and Why Trump is Worse.

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