As Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina gave her opening statement during the December 15 debate, prominent Iowa radio host Steve Deace described her as "go[ing] full vagina" on Twitter.
Here's Deace's tweet:
Wow...Fiorina goes full vagina right away-- Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 16, 2015
He went on to defend and double down on his comments in a series of tweets:
Completely agree. I think a GOP presidential candidate's opening statement being all about her gender is disgusting. https://t.co/oN5TQvDreN-- Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 16, 2015
Tell me about it https://t.co/g5IpSv1jsp-- Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 16, 2015
UPDATE: Deace subsequently walked back his statement, saying that his wife told him that he had been vulgar and needed to apologize:
. @amydeace tells me while on point about Carly and gender card I was too vulgar and need to apologize. And my wife is ALWAYS right. So I do-- Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) December 16, 2015
Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi have implicitly admitted that conservative media were wrong to suggest that a newly-released email contradicted then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's statement that an immediate military response to the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities was not possible.
On Monday, conservative journalists uncritically promoted the conspiracy that a Department of Defense email from the night of the attacks proved that the Obama administration could have helped the Americans under fire during the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, but deliberately decided not to, and that Leon Panetta had lied about the effort during 2013 congressional testimony. Fox News has since declared the email is a "smoking gun" proving that "the only thing standing between the terrorists who overran the compound and the four Americans who lost their lives was a green light from the State Department." Predictably, they have also used the supposed controversy to attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
This claim was never remotely plausible, and was completely debunked after the Democratic ranking member of the Benghazi Committee produced an unredacted version of the email that conclusively proved that the forces discussed in the email as "spinning up" to respond to the attack were the very units that Panetta had said during his 2013 testimony had been deployed but had not been able to arrive in time to help.
In fact, even the committee's Republicans apparently won't defend the theory. They responded to the release of the unredacted email by attacking Democrats for supposedly "playing politics" by releasing it. But notably, they did not say that the Democrats were wrong to argue that the conservative media attacks were "baseless" and "debunked." From The Hill:
Late in the day, Republicans fired back.
The decision to release the email "is further proof that Democrats are focused solely on playing politics and protecting Hillary Clinton," committee spokesman Matt Wolking said, "not on conducting a serious investigation and getting the truth for the families of the four Americans who lost their lives."
The Republican response would make more sense if the committee had taken the opportunity to bat down this conspiracy theory when right-wing reporters began asking about the email. Instead, they said only that they had obtained the email, allowing the lies to fester. From FoxNews.com:
Lawmakers investigating the events surrounding Benghazi already had acquired the e-mail, along with tens of thousands of others related to the probe, according to Matt Wolking, spokesman for the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
"The Select Committee has obtained and reviewed tens of thousands of documents in the course of its thorough, fact-centered investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attacks, and this information will be detailed in the final report the Committee hopes to release within the next few months," Wolking told FoxNews.com. "While the Committee does not rush to release or comment on every document it uncovers, I can confirm that we obtained the unredacted version of this email last year, in addition to Jake Sullivan's response."
Fox News hosts have begun complaining that more credible media outlets are refusing to cover the latest embarrassingly false conservative Benghazi conspiracy and demanding that Hillary Clinton be called to account for it.
On Monday, conservative journalists credulously trumpeted the false claim that a newly-released Department of Defense email from the night of the attacks proved that the Obama administration could have helped the Americans under fire during the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, but deliberately decided not to, and that then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had lied about the effort during 2013 congressional testimony.
This was never remotely plausible: The email was consistent with Panetta's statement that they had deployed forces to aid the Americans under fire but that those forces could not reach the scene in time. And last night, the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi produced an unredacted version of the email that conclusively proved that the forces discussed in the email as "spinning up" to respond to the attack were the very units that Panetta has testified were deployed but did not arrive in time.
None of this has stopped Fox News from continuing to obsess over the "smoking gun" email this morning. According to hosts and guests on Fox & Friends, the "huge" email proves that "Leon Panetta and everybody else flat-out lied to us" and that "the only thing standing between the terrorists who overran the compound and the four Americans who lost their lives was a green light from the State Department." And of course, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "has a lot of explaining to do."
They have also been criticizing the rest of the media for not devoting sufficient time to the "Benghazi scandal," calling that purported failure "near-criminal" and airing this graphic:
Fox's feverish attempts to call out the rest of the media for failing to report on this bogus right-wing story represent the third step in the familiar pattern we at Media Matters call the Fox Cycle:
1. Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting and distorting the story.
2. Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.
3. Fox News and conservative media attack the "liberal media" for ignoring the distorted story.
4. Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.
5. Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.
6. The story is later proven to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.
We will see whether or not the mainstream media will fall into the Benghazi reporting dumpster fire even after the story has already been debunked.
We need to talk about how bad the Benghazi lies have gotten.
Media Matters researchers have spent literally hundreds of hours over the last three years painstakingly debunking the various falsehoods and conspiracy theories regarding the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. We have written hundreds of blog posts and research documents, produced massive statistical studies on Benghazi coverage, tarnished the reputation of 60 Minutes, and written an e-book on The Benghazi Hoax that conservatives have perpetrated. We have scrutinized materials on the subject including but not limited to transcripts of the numerous public congressional hearings on the subject, the many reports released by Democratic, Republican, and nonpartisan committees, several books, and uncountable articles about the attacks and their aftermath.
We try to take the conservative media outlets we write about seriously. This has become even more difficult than usual in recent days. Conservative journalists seem increasingly willing to grasp for any potential speck of information about the Benghazi attacks that could be seen as damaging to progressives. We've reached a point where it literally takes us 30 seconds to debunk their bullshit by simply taking the claims that they say are damning and checking them against the sources they are citing.
Their need to cater to the conservative obsession with Benghazi is destroying their claim that they can engage in legitimate reporting. The quality of the lies has dropped precipitously -- it's almost like they aren't trying anymore. The predictable effort to use the deaths of four Americans for political ends has become a farce.
Yesterday afternoon, the right-wing legal organization Judicial Watch produced a Defense Department email from the night of the attacks that they claimed was new information indicating that the Obama administration could have helped the Americans under fire in Benghazi, but deliberately decided not to, and then lied about it. Let's pause and consider just how cartoonishly despicable that behavior would have been, if it had happened -- and thus how skeptical any reporter should treat that claim.
Of course, that didn't happen.
Instead, several conservative journalists, from Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo to Daily Caller's Mark Tapscott to TheBlaze's Oliver Darcy to TownHall.com's Katie Pavlich, all effectively rewrote the Judicial Watch press release without any apparent skepticism or indication of independent thought. (In a revealing case of crowdsourced editing, Pavlich subsequently had it pointed out to her on Twitter that the email was not, in fact, news, and has crossed out her initial claims that this proved a contradiction. This would be to her credit if it hadn't been so incredibly easy to get the story right.)
This is a pathetic failure of basic reporting, and everyone involved should be embarrassed. As noted above, Benghazi has an incredibly long paper trail. But the conservative journalists covering the story either couldn't be bothered to consult that record or they are deliberately lying to their audiences to get clicks.
The email in question was sent to State Department leaders at 7:19 pm on the night of the attack by then-Department of Defense chief of staff Jeremy Bash, and stated that Defense had "identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak." According to Judicial Watch, this "seems to directly contradict" then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's 2013 congressional testimony that "time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response."
I cannot emphasize enough how easy it was to determine that this was not, in fact, a contradiction. I literally spent about thirty seconds thinking "huh, that sounds unlikely," then ran the Panetta quote through Nexis and read the transcript of Panetta's testimony. Later in the same opening statement, he details the various forces that were deployed but either didn't arrive in time or did arrive but couldn't stop the attacks -- the forces that had been "spinning up" at the time of the email. If conservative outlets don't have Nexis, a Google search for "Leon Panetta 2013 Benghazi hearing" produces both transcript and video of the event.
Again, I didn't use some sort of fancy-pants research tricks, I just looked up the quote that Judicial Watch was saying was contradicted by the email and checked myself to see if it actually was.
Others who have been paying the bare minimum of attention to the Benghazi story quickly pointed out the email was consistent with the findings the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee released in May of 2013 and confirmed the Defense Department's timeline of events. Again, these are public documents that can be Googled. It is not that hard to find them.
The conservatives who reported on this could have done so. They didn't bother. Either they don't know anything about a topic that has been a major focus of political and media attention for the last several years and aren't interested enough in verifying facts to try, or they were lying in order to feed the ravenous Benghazi conspiracy beast.
The reporters mentioned above all work for outlets that have sought to distinguish themselves as legitimate ones that do real reporting. Even the liberal Mother Jones magazine has described the Washington Free Beacon as a "genuine muckraking success" and noted that its publisher has stressed the importance of reporting "facts." After declaring to a conservative audience that the movement needed to build its own New York Times (and getting booed), Tucker Carlson started the Daily Caller. TheBlaze's Glenn Beck launched a movement around the idea that conservatives needed to be able to "do your own research" rather than listening to the established media. TownHall.com (originally a creation of the Heritage Foundation but now owned by right-wing radio giant Salem Communications) seems to have the fewest pretensions to journalistic convention; yet as of posting time they were the only outlet to attempt to correct their original bogus reporting.
Fox News is going to do what Fox News does: lie to its audience to bolster conservatives and make money.
If conservative reporters want to be more than Rush Limbaugh shouting at his fans, its adherents must actually do the work of journalism. Benghazi Derangement Syndrome remains a blight on those efforts, and there's no sign that they're willing to adjust their standards to match reality.
That's a shame for them if they want to be taken seriously. Then again, it keeps us from having to work too hard.
Fox News is claiming that a Defense Department email highlighting "forces that could move to Benghazi" that were "spinning up" on the night of the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities contradicts then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's testimony that "time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response." But during the same testimony, Panetta explained that forces had been deployed that night.
A U.S.-based Muslim advocacy organization is criticizing the New York Post for displaying the phrase "Muslim Killers" on its cover after the release of the identities of the alleged shooters who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California.
On December 2, two people opened fire at a holiday party in the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, killing 14 and wounding 21 more. After they left the scene, the suspects were confronted by police and killed in a gun battle. After the names of the suspects were released late that night, the New York Post changed the headline of its front page from "Murder Mission" to "Muslim Killers." As Matt Ford of The Atlantic explained:
The front page on the left is from the subscriber edition, which prints late at night so it can be mailed out in the early morning. The front page on the right is from the newsstand edition, which prints later and is also used online. Police confirmed the names of the two suspects, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, at a press conference late last night; the Post's editors rewrote the headline accordingly for the later edition.
Ford went on to describe the cover as indicative of "uniquely paranoid bigotry" toward Muslims that could "have dire consequences for American Muslims." Vox.com's Jennifer Williams similarly wrote of the cover, "The only reason to highlight the religion of the attackers at this point is to link Islam to murder, which spreads fear and hatred of Muslims -- in other words, Islamophobia."
In a statement accompanying a petition, the grassroots Muslim group MPower Change wrote that the cover is indicative of "inflammatory, irresponsible and inciting media reporting that fuels an environment of hate and violence against innocent people" and that the Post and other outlets must "report based on facts":
The New York Post has labeled the San Bernardino shooters "Muslim Killers" in their web version, without any information on motive. What did they call the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter or Charleston Shooter or Aurora Movie Theater shooter?
It is this type of inflammatory, irresponsible and inciting media reporting that fuels an environment of hate and violence against innocent people.
We are not surprised--the NY Post is, after all, a part of the same family of companies as the right-wing infotainment channel Fox TV--but we are tired of being victimized.
We say enough is enough. The Post, and all media outlets, have to report based on facts and act more responsibly--and we have to hold them accountable.
The Washington Examiner is presenting emails released six months ago as new to falsely claim that Hillary Clinton "is only now facing questions about how she characterized" the 2012 terror attacks on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi.
On November 30, the State Department published 7,800 pages of Clinton's private emails. Reporting on those emails under the headline "New Clinton emails contradict Benghazi testimony," the Examiner reported:
A new batch of Hillary Clinton's emails made public Monday by the State Department indicate the former secretary of state was worried about whether she had overplayed the administration's Benghazi narrative, blaming the attack on a demonstration over a YouTube clip, less than two weeks after four Americans at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi were killed.
More than three years after the attack, Clinton is only now facing questions about how she characterized the raid.
The Examiner cites a September 24, 2012, email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan to Clinton two weeks after the Benghazi attack in which he provides her with a compilation of her statements on the attacks and notes that she "never said spontaneous or characterized the motives" of the attackers but was instead "careful in your first statement to say we were assessing motive and method."
Unfortunately for the Examiner, that email isn't news. In fact, it was released by the Select Committee six months ago and was reported at the time by Reuters, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, New York Post, MSNBC, and CNN, among others.
And despite the Examiner's attempt to scandalize the email, it's not surprising that Clinton had sought to determine if her public statements on the attacks had been accurate given evolving assessments made by the intelligence community in the weeks following the attack.
Initial intelligence suggested that the Benghazi attacks had grown out of protests against an anti-Islam YouTube video, resulting in a set of CIA talking points released to congressional and administration officials on September 15 that stated that "the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post."
Then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice was heavily criticized for using those talking points during a series of September 16 media interviews. But the intelligence continued to evolve and on September 24 -- the day of the Sullivan email -- the CIA changed its assessment, finding based on video footage and FBI interviews that no protest had occurred outside of the Benghazi facility.
The November 30 Examiner article also offered a second false attack on Clinton, claiming that an email that is actually newly released contradicts Clinton's October 22 testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
The Examiner cited a single email forwarded to Clinton on the night of the Benghazi attack as contradicting her testimony to the Benghazi Committee that she "conducted the majority of her work outside of email":
Email sent the night of the attack indicate Clinton did indeed receive updates about the unfolding violence in Benghazi via her private, unsecured email network, contrary to her testimony in an Oct. 22 hearing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Clinton argued last month that she had conducted the majority of her work outside of email and that she had been receiving live updates about the attack in person, not on her private server. When describing her modes of communication she used on the night of the attack, Clinton cited secure phones and the SCIF, or sensitive compartmented information facility used for viewing classified material, in her home.
But Clinton defended the lack of Benghazi updates among her private emails by arguing that most of her communications did not take place over email.
This argument makes no sense. By definition, Clinton conducting "the majority of her work outside of email" and "arguing that most of her communications did not take place over email" suggests that some communication did take place over email. At no point in her testimony did Clinton state that she received no email communications on the night of the attack. (In fact, she did testify that beyond secure phones she used "other equipment that kept [her] in touch with the State Department at all times.")
And while the Examiner wrote that Clinton said she conducted most of her work outside of email in order to "defend the lack of Benghazi updates among her private emails," her testimony actually indicates that she made that remark while explaining why she did not have emails concerning an April 2012 attack on an U.N. convoy in Benghazi.
That hasn't stopped Hugh Hewitt, the Salem Radio host who serves as a panelist on CNN's Republican primary debates, from trying to badger CNN anchor Chris Cuomo with the Examiner report as "evidence crucial to" the election:
She testified though that she did not use her server on night of attack. Turns out she did. https://t.co/6uDqd1K8Jq-- Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) December 1, 2015
During a subsequent appearance on Cuomo's New Day program on December 1, Hewitt suggested that the GOP candidates should use the next debate to "point out that yesterday, for example, new e-mails showed up that make it abundantly clear that Mrs. Clinton lied during her testimony before the Benghazi committee about not receiving e-mails on her private server the night of Benghazi."
Conservatives have made so many fraudulent Benghazi attacks that they are starting to lose track of them.
Fox News reported on a supposedly "bombshell" document signed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that acknowledged the possibility of facing criminal penalties for mishandling classified information, while ignoring the revelation earlier the same day that two emails she had received, which the intelligence community had previously deemed top secret, did not contain such information.
The office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has reportedly concluded that two emails received by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not contain top secret information, a reversal from the Intelligence Community inspector general's prior claim that they did, according to a Politico report. Media had previously used the notion that the two emails were highly classified to suggest that Clinton or her aides had engaged in criminal behavior.
In July, the New York Times published an article -- which it subsequently had to correct twice -- about a security referral the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IG IC) made to the executive branch about whether there was any classified material on Clinton's email account during her time as secretary of state. The IG IC highlighted four allegedly classified emails and subsequently stated that two of those four emails contained "top secret" information. The State Department disagreed about whether the material in the emails was actually highly classified. As Politico is now reporting, "that disagreement has been resolved in State's favor" and the previous claim that the emails contained top secret information is wrong.
Despite the original disagreement between the two federal agencies, Fox News initially responded by running with speculation from an anonymous State Department official that aides to Hillary Clinton had "stripped" the classification markings from emails that she received in her private email server, and claiming that even if the emails hadn't been marked classified, Clinton should have known they contained highly classified information.
But Politico reported on November 6 that the office of the Director of National Intelligence has now overruled the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community's prior conclusion that two emails received by Clinton contained highly classified information. As Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists explained to Politico, this "mistake" is nothing short than "astonishing" because "[i]t was a transformative event in the presidential campaign to this point. It had a potential to derail Clinton's presidential candidacy." From the article:
The U.S. intelligence community has retreated from claims that two emails in Hillary Clinton's private account contained top secret information, a source familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
The determination came from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's office and concluded that the two emails did not include highly classified intelligence secrets. Concerns about the emails' classification helped trigger an on-going FBI inquiry into Clinton's private email set-up.
Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III made the claim that two of the emails contained top secret information, the State Department publicly stated its disagreement and asked Clapper's office to referee the dispute. Now, that disagreement has been resolved in State's favor, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Intelligence officials claimed one email in Clinton's account was classified because it contained information from a top secret intelligence community "product" or report, but a further review determined that the report was not issued until several days after the email in question was written, the source said.
"The initial determination was based on a flawed process," the source said. "There was an intelligence product people thought [one of the emails] was based on, but that actually postdated the email in question."
A top expert in classification procedures called the development "an astonishing turn of events."
"It's not just a mistake," said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. "It was a transformative event in the presidential campaign to this point. It had a potential to derail Clinton's presidential candidacy."
Aftergood said Clapper's office should be credited for seriously reconsidering the earlier conclusions by intelligence agencies.
CNN bizarrely framed an article around former President Bill Clinton not giving a speech to a company that, three years after the engagement, would be accused of crimes -- even though former President George W. Bush actually gave the speech to that company. The article was based on an email obtained by a right-wing organization whose leader has targeted the Clintons for decades.
Under the headline "Bill Clinton mulled speaking request for company later charged by SEC," CNN.com began its September 18 article by reporting that Clinton had considered taking a fee to speak at a corporate event that Bush actually ended up attending instead (emphasis added):
President Bill Clinton's aides once explored the possibility of him addressing a lavish energy conference, whose sponsor the Securities and Exchange Commission later accused of using a Ponzi-like scheme to obtain the money to cover the $200,000 speaker fee. The possibility of Clinton's participation in the event was discussed in an email from Clinton staff to a State Department official obtained by CNN.
Instead, Clinton's successor, President George W. Bush, spoke at the September 2012 event, billed as a "U.S. China Energy Summit."
The company, Luca International, and its top executives are now the subject of a lawsuit alleging securities fraud brought by the SEC in July. The complaint alleges that Luca misspent millions in foreign investor funds for improper purposes, including the summit, an all-expenses-paid golf junket to Pebble Beach, California, designed to recruit more Asian investors to the company.
The article goes on to note that "Both Clinton's staff and Don Walker, president of the Harry Walker Agency, the speaking agency booking engagements for Bill Clinton, expressed concerns about the request," specifically because the Clinton camp had misgivings about the event's host.
It's unclear why the outlet would deem it newsworthy that Clinton, who has regularly given paid speeches since leaving the Oval Office, would consider but decline to give this one. According to Buzzfeed, which originally broke this story months ago just days after the SEC fraud complaints were filed, Bush did accept the $200,000 speaking fee from Luca International. News outlets and conservative activists have frequently sought to scandalize the Clintons' speaking engagements.
The article also acknowledges that it is based on an email between a Clinton staffer and State Department officials who reviewed such potential speaking engagements "provided to the conservative group Citizens United" and "obtained by CNN." Citizens United is headed by David Bossie, who in 1998 was fired from his job as chief investigator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform -- which was investigating alleged Clinton White House finance abuses -- because he released selectively edited transcripts that gave the false impression that then-first lady Hillary Clinton had been implicated in wrongdoing. His group regularly releases shoddy "documentaries" smearing progressives.