From the March 3 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Fox News host Chris Wallace admitted that Fox's "stand down order" narrative about the 2012 Benghazi attacks was false, but still allowed disreputable source Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to desperately try and redefine the debunked claim into a new attack on the Obama administration
Fox News has persistently pushed the myth that the administration had issued a "stand down" order to stop reinforcements from coming to the aid of American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya during the September 11, 2012 attack. Though the claim was rapidly discredited, by June 2013, the network had repeated the charge at least 85 times in prime time segments, and the allegations didn't stop there. In early February, a House Armed Services Committee report and a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report put the myth to rest.
On the March 2 edition of Fox Broadcasting Network's Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace admitted that the Senate report had thoroughly debunked claims of a "stand down" order and reported that The Washington Post Fact Checker had given Issa "four pinocchios" -- the rating it issues for "whoppers" -- for his suggestion that "Secretary Clinton told [then-Defense Secretary] Leon [Panetta] to stand down, and we all heard about the stand-down order for two military personnel. That order is undeniable."
But Fox's focus on the facts was short lived. Though Wallace's acknowledgement of the facts led Issa admit that the term "stand down" was not "used in some sort of an explicit way," Wallace made no move to question Issa's attempt to spin the administration's supposed "failure to react" to the attack as the kind of thing that could "represent a stand down":
WALLACE: But to be honest, you do not have any evidence that Secretary Clinton told Leon Panetta to stand down.
ISSA: Well, the use in answering questions in a political fundraiser -- that was in response to a question -- the term "stand down" is not used in some sort of an explicit way. But rather the failure to react, the fact that only State Department assets and only assets inside the country were ever used, that members arms forces, gun carrying, trained people were not allowed to get on the aircraft to go and attempt to rescue. Those kinds of things through State Department resources represent a stand down. Not maybe on the technical terms of "stand down, soldier," but on the American people believe is a failure to respond what they could have.
WALLACE: All right.
Even Issa's effort to repackage his attack falls flat. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has already debunked claims that further assistance could have been sent from U.S. military bases, criticizing the conservative media's "cartoonish impression of the military" which has ignored the need for "planning and preparation before we send people in harm's way." As Gates said:
Given the number of surface to air missiles that have disappeared from Qaddafi's arsenals I would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft, over Benghazi under those circumstances.
During a Fox News segment discussing the release of the Clinton presidency documents, conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch accused Hillary Clinton of strategically using her concussion to avoid testifying on Benghazi while instead vacationing in the Dominican Republic. But the State Department confirmed that neither of the Clintons traveled to the Dominican Republic in December 2012.
Thousands of documents from the Clinton White House were released on February 28, leading to a media frenzy that was mocked by Fox host Shepard Smith. Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace also stated that "there's really no there there," predicting that unless something really incriminating appears, the papers will soon be forgotten.
Discussing the Clinton papers on Fox News' The Kelly File, guest host Shannon Bream implied that Hillary Clinton herself strategically cultivated rumors about her own health for her benefit. Loesch seized the opportunity to push the Benghazi hoax, accusing Clinton of taking a vacation to the Dominican Republic while using her concussion to avoid testifying before Congress about the Benghazi attack:
LOESCH: I campaigned for the Clintons when I was in college and I used to be a registered Democrat and I saw some of how the machine worked. And there are few women in politics that are as slick as Hillary Clinton. I may disagree with her on everything, but on this, she is very strategic. And so I keep going back as when they were getting ready to have the hearings on Benghazi, she had a concussion, but then she wasn't able to testify. And then a couple of days later she flew to the Dominican Republic and attended an event for Oscar de La Renta. So, could be strategic minor changes to get some empathy, we'll see.
From the February 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Fox contributor Karl Rove deceitfully shuffled the words of former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice in an effort to accuse her of pushing a "contemptible falsehood" about the 2012 Benghazi attacks and claiming that she was part of an "endless Benghazi coverup."
In a February 26 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal "The Endless Benghazi Coverup," Rove took Rice's comments about the violent protests that were then erupting across the Middle East out of context, falsely representing them as a specific reference to the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. According to Rove, Rice said the Benghazi attack was "absolutely" the result of the protests against a "'very hateful, very offensive video that has offended many people around the world":
The worst part of National Security Adviser Susan Rice's comments on Sunday's "Meet The Press" was that she expressed no regret for saying that the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. outposts in Benghazi were "absolutely" the result of protests against a "very hateful, very offensive video that has offended many people around the world."
This is an egregious mischaracterization of the ambassador's words. In context, Rice's comment clearly referred to the protests that had broken out throughout the Middle East and not specifically to Benghazi.
Rove was referencing Rice's September 16 interview on Fox News' Fox News Sunday, which focused at different points on the anti-American protests that had broken out across the Middle East as well as the attack in Benghazi.
Wallace led with a question about the protests that were occurring "in two dozen countries across the Islamic world," and asked whether Rice agreed with White House press secretary Jay Carney's assessment that the protests came in "response to a video that is offensive" and had "nothing to do with the president's policies." The quote Rove cited was pulled from that response, and was not at all focused on the Benghazi attack (emphasis added on the portions quoted by Rove):
WALLACE: This week, there have been anti-American protests in two dozen countries across the Islamic world. The White House says it has nothing to do with the president's policies.
Let's watch. [...] You don't really believe that.
RICE: Chris, absolutely I believe that. In fact, it is the case. We had the evolution of the Arab spring over the last many months. But what sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful very offensive video that has offended many people around the world.
Beyond his misrepresentation of Rice's comments, Rove failed to add any new information to the increasingly stale media conversation about the Benghazi attack. The rest of his piece devolved into a dissection of whether or not "she was merely sharing 'the best information that we had at the time'" - something that Rove called "a contemptible falsehood." But there too, the evidence is on Rice's side.
Rove and other Fox figures have repeatedly pushed the smear that Rice deceptively attributed the Benghazi attack to the anti-Muslim video for political reasons, but even this unusually creative distortion doesn't change the facts.
Fox News' Brian Kilmeade invited dubious sources Richard Minter and Scott McEwen on to discuss whether the Obama administration's move toward "weakening the Navy SEALs to be diverse and politically correct" led to three unnecessary deaths and whether the outcome would "have been different if these SEALs were not white?"
Kilmeade introduced guests Richard Miniter and Scott McEwen, authors of Eyes on Target, and bizarrely invoked race to set up a conversation over whether the White House is weakening the Navy SEALs in pursuit of diversity and political correctness:
KILMEADE: It's one of our military's most notorious tragedies. Four Navy SEALs on a top secret Taliban mission and only one survives. But would that be -- would the outcome have been different if these SEALS were not white? An explosive new book claims our politically correct White House is weakening the Navy SEALs to be diverse and politically correct. Scott McEwen and Richard Miniter, authors of Eyes on Target, are here to explain.
McEwen quickly clarified that his book does not suggest the race of the SEALs was a factor in the tragedy in Afghanistan, but he added that he had concerns that the White House is "trying to make them politically correct" by changing the SEAL culture with regard to rules of engagement, codes of conduct, and gender inclusion.
From there, the interview turned to the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, devolving into a fact-free recitation of Fox's favorite myths. Miniter claimed that two of the Americans who died in the assault, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, had been denied military aid from U.S. military bases in the Mediterranean and drones in the area and left to die. Miniter went on to attack then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for her early description of CIA intelligence on the attack, claiming that if she has no regrets about her statements, then "she is on very strong medication."
That Miniter gets the facts wrong on Benghazi is no surprise: he has already been discredited as an author. The pair of authors misrepresented the role of Doherty, who was part of the rescue team the pair said didn't exist.
And their claims that further assistance could have been sent from U.S. military bases have been debunked by Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who criticized the conservative media's "cartoonish impression of the military."
And even Fox has admitted that its long-term effort to smear Susan Rice for her& September 16 descriptions of the attack were dishonest, as Rice's talking points represented the best intelligence available at the time.
Fox News' coverage of the September 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, has long been marked by gross inaccuracies and outrageous smears. In the face of overwhelming evidence, a source like Miniter is clearly a last resort. His previous books have relied on dubious sources, misreadings of the evidence, and outright lies.
From the February 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Just days after one Fox host made the lucid acknowledgement that the network's campaign against Susan Rice was based on dishonest smears about the genesis of her 2012 Benghazi talking points, another Fox host attempted to exploit Rice's recent appearance on Meet the Press by relapsing into the same debunked accusations against her.
Beginning in 2012, Fox repeatedly pushed the smear that then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice deceptively attributed the September 11 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi to the violent protests that had broken out in other parts of the Middle East and Africa in response to an anti-Islam YouTube video. The network persisted in dragging Rice through the mud until Fox host Megyn Kelly briefly broke ranks on the February 12, 2014 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File and admitted Rice had simply cited the best intelligence available at the time.
Days later, after Rice made a nearly identical argument on Meet the Press, Fox apparently couldn't let an opportunity to continue inventing Benghazi news hooks go to waste. On February 24 the hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends were back to pushing the networks' tired smears:
Substantial evidence supports Rice. A bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report released in January 2014 stated that "[s]ome intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video." It also determined that "there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to 'cover-up' facts or make alterations for political purposes" -- directly refuting Fox's efforts to drag both Rice and another official, then-CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, through the mud.
On Meet the Press, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that it is "patently false" that she or others in the Obama administration misled the American public about the Benghazi attack, a charge often made by conservative media.
During her appearance after the attack on Meet the Press on September 16, 2012, Rice presented "the best information we have at present," which she acknowledged could change as an FBI investigation gathered more facts. She said:
RICE: First of all, there's an FBI investigation, which is ongoing. And we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired. But putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of-- of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video. What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are readily available in post-revolutionary Libya. And it escalated into a much more violent episode. Obviously, that's-- that's our best judgment now. We'll await the results of the investigation.
Conservative media, especially Fox News, have smeared Susan Rice and the administration ever since, accusing administration officials of lying and deliberately misleading the American people by citing an anti-Islam video as a motivating factor behind the attack. As Rice said on Sunday, the charge that the Obama administration intentionally misled the public is "patently false" (emphasis added):
RICE: What I said to you that morning and what I did every day since, was to share the best information that we had at the time. The information I provided, which I explained to you was what we had at the moment, it could change, I commented that this was based on what we knew on that morning, was provided to me, and my colleagues, and indeed to Congress by the intelligence community. And that's been well-validated in many different ways since. And that information turned out in some respects not to be 100 percent correct. But the notion that somehow I, or anybody else in the administration, misled the American people is patently false, and I think that that's been amply demonstrated.
Rice is correct -- she has been validated. Soon after Fox and other conservative media began attacking her, Fox contributor Juan Williams criticized his own network and pointed out that Rice was truthfully offering the assessment of the intelligence community at the time. Even Fox News host Megyn Kelly finally acknowledged this fact, long after attacking Rice for what she said. And a bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report released in January 2014 determined, regarding the talking points provided to Rice, that "there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to 'cover-up' facts or make alterations for political purposes."
The Senate report and a long investigation by The New York Times also determined that an anti-Islam video did indeed play a role in the attack, despite Fox's claims to the contrary. A section of the Senate report stated that "[s]ome intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video." The Times had a report out in October 2012, citing some of the attackers themselves, that they were angry over the video. A six-part series by the Times in December 2013 included more detail about the attack, and stated that "it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam," and that there was "no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers."
Will the conservative media finally accept these facts, or will they continue pushing the Benghazi hoax?
From the February 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News has repeatedly hosted members of the fringe group Clarion Project, an anti-Muslim organization known for spreading Islamophobic fears, to discuss serious national security matters.
On February 20, Fox News hosted Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst from the Clarion Project, also known as the Clarion Fund, to discuss possible security threats on airlines. Mauro has recently appeared on Fox several times where he has argued that 'Muslim patrols' were a growing security concern for the United States, discussed the possibility of an anti-American alliance in the Middle East with Syrian Jihadists, and hyped fears that Somali refugees in the United States were becoming 'homegrown' terrorists.
But Mauro and other Clarion Project members are not credible sources to discuss issues such as these given their virulent history of Islamophobia. Clarion Project has been widely criticized for producing and spreading Islamophobic material including the movie, Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, a film that depicted Muslims as terrorists seeking world conquest. Think Progress reported that this was only the first installment of "Clarion's ongoing production of Islamophobic films."
Mauro himself has penned numerous pieces for the anti-Islam blog Islamist Watch where he has tracked his progress in identifying "Muslim enclaves" in the United States that he says will become "'no-go zones' where governments admit to having little authority over Muslims living there" :
The construction of the building blocks for similar Muslim enclaves and "no-go zones" in the U.S. is one of the most disturbing programs of Islamist groups. If successful, these territories will be the first to establish Shari'a law in the country, thus offering a profound challenge to America's constitutional order.
Other board members from the Clarion Project who have also made their way onto Fox include Frank Gaffney, one of America's most notorious Islamophobes and Fox's go-to anti-Muslim activist, Zuhdi Jasser. Gaffney has used funding for his Center for Security Policy to produce reports promoting the baseless myth that Muslims are conspiring to implement Sharia law in the United States.
According to a Center for American Progress report, the Clarion Project is funded by three of the seven top anti-Islam and anti-Muslim think tanks and organizations in the United States, including the Donors Capital Fund, Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust, and Anchorage Charitable Foundation and William Rosenwal Family Fund. The Center for American Progress describes these donors as the "lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America," and the report tracks how these donors use their money to support groups like the Clarion Project to "spread a deliberately misleading messages about Islam and Muslims that is fundamentally antithetical to our nation's foundation and principals of religious freedom."
The Associated Press gave Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) space to parrot tired Benghazi myths about military aid and President Obama's whereabouts the night of the attacks in its coverage of the congressman's recent speech in New Hampshire.
On February 18, the Associated Press detailed Issa's criticisms of the Obama administration during a New Hampshire speech, highlighting Issa's accusation that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta refused to send military aid to Americans under attack in Benghazi in September 2012 and his suggestion that Obama was absent as the administration planned its response to the attacks:
Issa said that Clinton and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta were accountable as the "top two informed individuals who were awake."
"They didn't react," he said, adding later, "We need to find out from Secretary Clinton, why in the world you wouldn't have insisted that (security forces) be moving and providing support."
Rather than acknowledge that Issa's claims have been soundly discredited, AP prefaced his remarks with the vague disclaimer, "Democrats complain that the continued focus on the Benghazi attack, in particular, is a political stunt designed to weaken Clinton should she run for president."
And yet, Issa's claim that Clinton and Panetta "didn't react" that night, which AP takes at face value, has been called "cartoonish" by military leaders, who have repeatedly testified that the response represented the best of our military's capabilities.
CNN co-host and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling for Secretary of State John Kerry's resignation for comparing climate change to a "weapon of mass destruction." However, media coverage of Gingrich's call has largely left out that Gingrich once agreed with Kerry on climate change, even standing with him on stage touting Kerry's book, in which he called climate change the "single largest threat" to mankind.
On February 18, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Kerry discussed climate change as a national security threat, saying "in a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction." Gingrich responded in a misspelled tweet, calling for Kerry's resignation:
The Huffington Post claimed in an article on his tweets, that "Gingrich has repeatedly dismissed the dangers of man-made climate change." But that article, like similar ones in The Washington Post, The Hill, and conservative media, failed to mention that less than a decade ago, Gingrich was sitting with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on a couch, agreeing we should act on climate change.
Fox News' Chris Wallace baselessly suggested that Hillary Clinton dishonestly conflated the 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, with protests sparked by an anti-Islam video.
During the February 16 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace speculated about a potential 2016 presidential run by Clinton. Stating that her record as secretary of state would be "fair game," Wallace raised the specter of Benghazi and claimed that "Clinton seemed to conflate the attack on the consulate with that anti-Islam video" during her remarks at the September 14, 2012, transfer of remains ceremony for the Benghazi victims:
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about Clinton's record as secretary of state which I'm sure you both would agree will be fair game. It will be the last public role she held before she runs, if she runs. No signature diplomatic breakthroughs. And then, of course, there is also Benghazi where even on the day that the four Americans, dead Americans from Benghazi were returned to Andrews Air Force Base, Clinton seemed to conflate the attack on the consulate with that anti-Islam video. Take a look.
CLINTON (video clip): We've seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We've seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.
WALLACE: Karl, how big a deal will Benghazi be for Hillary Clinton over the next two plus years?
But Clinton's comments were accurate: during the week of her speech, U.S. embassies or consulates in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Sudan were attacked by protestors angry about an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube by an American.
While Wallace suggested that conflating the video with the Benghazi attacks was necessarily dishonest, at the time of Clinton's remarks, there was a consensus within the intelligence community (IC), largely based on press accounts at the time, that a protest against the video had occurred at the consulate prior to the attack. It was not until September 24, 2012, ten days later, that the CIA changed its assessment of the events on the ground and concluded that there was in fact no protest on the night of the attack. From the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report on the Benghazi attacks (emphasis added):
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the IC received numerous reports, both classified and unclassified, which provided contradictory accounts that there were demonstrations at the Temporary Mission Facility. In some cases, these intelligence reports -- which were disseminated widely in the Intelligence Community -- contained references to press reports on protests that were simply copied into intelligence products.
Moreover, it appears this reporting from those present during the attacks did not make its way into assessments at CIA Headquarters, as the Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Analysis Office at CIA wrote an internal email, dated September 16, 2012, that mentioned "protestors that preceded the violence." On September 18, 2012, the FBI and CIA reviewed the closed circuit television video from the Mission facility that showed there were no protests prior to the attacks. Although information gathered from interviews with U.S. personnel who were on the ground during the attacks was shared informally between the FBI and CIA, it was not until two days later, on September 20, 2012, that the FBI disseminated its intelligence reports detailing such interviews.
As a result of evidence from closed circuit videos and other reports, the IC changed its assessment about a protest in classified intelligence reports on September 24, 2012, to state there were no demonstrations or protests at the Temporary Mission Facility prior to the attacks. This slow change in the official assessment affected the public statements of government officials, who continued to state in press interviews that there were protests outside the Mission compound.
Whether or not a protest occurred, The New York Times has reported that a journalist working for the paper was present at the Benghazi diplomatic facility during the attack and was told by the attackers and by other witnesses that they had been motivated to attack in response to learning of the anti-Islam film.
The conservative Washington Free Beacon reported that the Obama administration is "not strongly opposing" a South Korean plan to use Chinese telecommunications gear to build a broadband network, which the website warns will risk the security of U.S. military communications in the country. But hours before they published their article, The Wall Street Journal reported that in response to U.S. pressure, South Korea had changed their plans to "address U.S. concerns" by routing sensitive communications over other networks.