First clue that Benghazi is getting Administration attention: they’re publicly marginalizing it and calling it “politically motivated.”
The White House scrambled Friday to explain newly released email excerpts that show a top State Department official pushing to water down the intelligence community’s initial story-line on the Benghazi attack, as Republicans sharply challenged the administration’s honesty.
With new details emerging in the Benghazi-gate controversy, the White House held a background discussion with more than a dozen news organizations. Afterward, Press Secretary Jay Carney weathered a barrage of questions from the media during an at-times awkward White House briefing — where he tried to defend the truthfulness of his and other officials’ prior claims that the initial talking points on the attack reflected the best intelligence assessment of the time.
Carney lashed out at Republicans, accusing them of leaking the emails in an effort “to politicize this.”
Further, he said: “These documents bear out what we’ve said all along.”
But Carney was challenged on that point, repeatedly by reporters at Friday’s briefing but also by substance of the email excerpts themselves.
The excerpts pertained to internal discussions in the days after the Sept. 11 attack on the talking points that would be provided to officials.
Carney had claimed last year that the only adjustment the White House or State Department made to the language was to change the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility.”
But ABC News reported Friday that the talking points were revised 12 times. Initial versions, as has been previously reported, contained references to Al Qaeda that were later deleted. But the latest excerpts show how State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland pressed the CIA to scrub references to the agency’s prior security warnings out of concern they could be used against her department.
According to ABC News, the original paragraph read:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
Whistle-blowers, though, ripped the administration over their response to the attack earlier this week, with one testifying that his “jaw dropped” after he heard Rice’s comments on Sept. 16.
The Weekly Standard also reported on an email that then-CIA Director David Petraeus sent to the CIA’s legislative affairs chief in which he reportedly expressed frustration at the administration’s removal of all references to Islamic terrorists.
But Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that, while he respects those whistle-blowers who testified, the “prolonged political process …. really doesn’t tell us anything new about the facts.”
While administration officials and congressional Democrats have described the protracted debate over the talking points as politically motivated and inconsequential, the testimony this week opened the door to additional questions.
First clue that people are starting to ask questions? The thus-far somnambulant Old School Media is starting to ask questions.
The most notable takeaway from Jay Carney’s incomprehensible Friday appearance had little to do with his Klingon grammar. Carney does not represent the historical value of the event – you should be wise to forget his performance, and instead take note that he was flanked by the entire room, without exception.
Do not underestimate the significance: the Obama administration has not faced such an onslaught of truth-seeking since he took office in 2008, and further, no Democratic administration has been charged from all sides like this in recent memory.
That press conference was unthinkable just days ago.
For a left-leaning reporter – as surveys have confirmed most are – watching the WH Press Corps attack a Democratic administration regarding a scandal that could very well topple it must objectively represent a career-turning event.
Just hours earlier, many lefty journalists still felt exceedingly comfortable advancing the administration talking points, offering denigrating coverage of the whistleblowers, the “wingnut conspiracy theorists,” and conservatives in general. Professionally, this meant offering subpar commentary with little chance of notable criticism penetrating the MSM bubble.
Again, it was the entire room.
Can they still feel safe trashing political enemies without getting justly reamed by their employers and colleagues? Can they still offer work that hasn’t been bulletproofed and sourced without embarrassment? Can they wink-wink, nudge-nudge with their friends anymore?
Heck, do they even know who their friends are anymore?
Watch their Twitter timelines, their future articles, because I think the MSM just went Mad Max, every man for himself.
If it continues, this would of course be a wonderful development for the American citizen, the restoration of the press and its check on government corruption. Is the decades-late media audit, the return of professionalism and honor, finally underway this evening?
I don’t have the highest hopes of a full recovery, but a monumental change did just occur, and there will be fallout, and likely no return to the monolith of the past five years.
If, or possibly when, this becomes the lead story on nighttime broadcast news, when it headlines on major newspapers, remember this: it was Fox News, it was the Internet news sites and blogs that kept the Benghazi Massacre alive long enough for justice to be served.