Fox News' Adam Housley suddenly flipped his own network's script, calling the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala not "that big of a deal," and accused the White House of embellishing his role in the deadly Benghazi attacks -- a report that's inconsistent with other Fox News reports naming Khatalla as a key suspect.
American forces apprehended Khattala in Libya on June 15. When the news broke on June 17, Fox News quickly reported the top militia leader's arrest. Then on June 27, Khattala went from a top terrorism leader to small potatoes.
Fox News diminished Khattala's capture, suggesting the militia leader was small time and the Obama administration is ignoring "actionable intelligence" on larger suspects. On the June 27 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox correspondent Adam Housley reported that Khattala's capture "wasn't that big of a deal at all," because Khattala was considered by officials to be "low-hanging fruit." Housley capitalized on diminishing Khattala's profile in order to criticize President Obama for failing to follow through on his "promise to stay focused on hunting down those responsible for the 2012 attack.":
The media and intelligence community have long considered Ahmed Abu Khattala an instrumental and deadly perpetrator in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans.
U.S. leaders have been crystal clear that Khattala is a criminal and an enduring threat. As Media Matters reported, on June 17 Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the arrest of "an alleged key leader of the attacks in Benghazi" and reinforced the Obama administration's ongoing commitment to, "bringing to justice the terrorist murderers responsible for the attacks in Benghazi."
In a June 18 article The Washington Post outlined Khattala's primary role in the attacks. The paper explained after spending years in prison for opposing former Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi, Khattala was eventually released and commanded his own militia. According to the New York Times, that same militia was seen by witnesses at the consulate on the night of September 11, 2012, with Khattala appearing to direct some in the raging crowd that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Fox News had historically taken a different stance on the importance of capturing the Benghazi suspect. The day news broke of Khattala's arrest, Fox News was quick to label him the widely accepted leader of the attacks, looking very much the same as other media.
A June 17 FoxNews.com article explained, "Khattala was long thought to be one of the ringleaders of the deadly attack." A second post derided Khattala's flagrant lifestyle after the Benghazi attacks, calling him a "senior leader of the terror group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya." The capture was considered such a big deal, Fox hosts immediately questioned the "curious timing" of the capture and speculated it was conveniently timed to benefit President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
What's more, Fox's inconsistency persisted on the very same day Housely minimized Khattala's capture when Fox News Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge reported, "This is a key milestone in the case. Khattala has been described to Fox News as the muscle on the ground during the Benghazi attack.