The day after Congress finally signed off on legislation that would end a weeks-long government shutdown and prevent a debt ceiling crisis, Fox News sent a correspondent to the White House to shift the conversation to the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen devoted nearly ten minutes of the October 17 White House press briefing to questioning Press Secretary Jay Carney about the federal government's response to the Benghazi attacks.
As Mediaite's Tommy Christopher noted, at one point during the exchange Carney accused Rosen of "creating an exchange here for Fox." The network has been a central force in the right-wing media's effort to use phony conspiracy theories and blatant falsehoods about Benghazi to smear President Obama and members of his administration.
Rosen's line of questioning concerned questions raised by House Republicans at a week-old House Armed Services subcommittee hearing about a September 10, 2012, White House press office release detailing a meeting Obama had with key national security officials to ensure that steps were being taken to ensure the protection of U.S. personnel and assets on the September 11 anniversary. Rosen asked Carney "how closely vetted" the 13-month-old press release was and for more information about the meeting.
Later in the exchange, Rosen said that "the posturing of the military in a volatile time around the world" at the time of the Benghazi attacks "was so poor as to make rescue or remedy impossible." After Carney suggested that "the 'poor' statement is a reflection of an assessment made by Republicans who have, as you know, attempted, unfortunately, to make this a partisan issue," Rosen replied that "the fact that the posturing was such that it made remedy or rescue in that situation impossible is not a conclusion solely of the House Armed Services Committee or of Republicans, it is a self-evident fact."
Rosen's comments is consistent with the "cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces" that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has ascribed to conservatives who claim that the Obama administration should have been able to send additional support to the aid of Americans in Benghazi. "The one thing our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm's way," Gates said in May, "and there just wasn't time."
Similarly, during a September hearing, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, a co-chairman of the State Department Accountability Review Board that examined the attack, explained that he had reviewed the force posture of the U.S. military and the "military did everything they possibly could that night. They just couldn't get there in time." Mullen's co-chair Ambassador Thomas Pickering added that America has "over 270 consulates and embassies around the world in some very isolated and strange places" and "we are not able to count on the U.S. military, as Admiral Mullen said, always being positioned to come in short notice to deal with those issues."
Rosen ended the exchange by asking whether the administration would "be willing to make any of those documents associated with that press release available, as you did with the Susan Rice talking points?" Carney replied "James, I think we're done here," and exited the briefing room.