January 17, 2014
Obama invisible in media coverage of Benghazi report
Barry who? The president of what? It seems that our national media has experienced a collective memory lapse. The Senate intelligence report that was published earlier this week that concluded the Benghazi attack could have been prevented never mentions the name of the individual most reponsible for the debacle.
While NBC, ABC, and CBS all covered the new Senate Intelligence Committee report blaming the Obama administration for security failures leading up to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, none of the coverage on Wednesday's evening newscasts or Thursday's morning shows mentioned President Obama by name.
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams announced: "...a scathing report just issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It says the deaths could have been prevented by better security, better communication....And the State Department, they say, gets most of the blame." CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley declared: "A critical report tonight blames American diplomats and intelligence officers for failing to prevent the attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya."
The closest any of the reporting came to including President Obama in the scandal was on ABC's World News, when correspondent Jonathan Karl explained: "The conclusions, there were 'no protests' prior to the attacks, as the White House first claimed." Footage of Obama appeared on screen as Karl spoke.
Moments later, Karl added: "On one key point, the report backs up the White House. It says there were 'no U.S. military resources' nearby that could have helped defend the compound. In fact, both the State Department and Ambassador Stevens himself turned down an offer from the military to keep a special forces unit in Libya a month before the attacks."
While NBC's Today and CBS This Morning provided full Benghazi reports on Thursday, ABC's Good Morning America only offered an eighteen-second news brief on the topic, with news reader Amy Robach noting: "A bipartisan Senate investigation spreading the blame for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, saying the State Department, military, and intelligence community are all at fault for missing warning signs."
On CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell used similar language: "The review spreads the blame around many agencies. It even criticizes the U.S. Ambassador killed in the attack." Correspondent Nancy Cordes elaborated: "The report finds that the ambassador himself may have sent mixed messages. He did warn the State Department about security problems in Libya, but he also turned down a military offer to extend a troop that was guarding him."
On Today, Peter Alexander told viewers: "More than sixteen months later, the deadly attacks in Benghazi are still fueling heated debate over exactly what went wrong there and who's to blame. This new Senate report sharply criticizes both the State Department and the CIA for poor communication and insufficient security."
Blame the victim but not the boss? It's already been speculated the Stevens was leery of asking the military forces to stay because he had been consistently shot down by the highest levels of the State Department when asking for additional security.There was also a question of who would control the special military security force - Stevens or General Ham. And there may have been other reasons Stevens turned down the extra security - political in nature:
One person familiar with the events said Stevens might have rejected the offers because there was an understanding within the State Department that officials in Libya ought not to request more security, in part because of concerns about the political fallout of seeking a larger military presence in a country that was still being touted as a foreign policy success.
"The embassy was told through back channels to not make direct requests for security," an official familiar with the case, who agreed to discuss the case only anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject, told McClatchy.
"Political fallout?" It is not likely that State or Defense would give a fig about politics unless directed to do so from the White House. Libya was being portrayed as a foreign policy "success." It just wouldn't do to have an increased presence of the military in Benghazi when the White House was telling voters everything was going swimmingly in Libya.
Of this, we'll probably never know the truth. And Hillary Clinton will not be able to avoid the issue if she runs for president.
Meanwhile, that man in charge evidently isn't really in charge. Political considerations or no, he that shall not be named bears the ultimate responsibility for those deaths. Not to acknowledge that is shoddy, biased journalism.