by Kerry Picket 20 Jan 2014, 6:18 AM PDT
Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren claims someone in the Obama administration told her to direct colleague Jennifer Griffin to stop investigating and reporting on the deadly September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. compound and CIA annex in Benghazi.
I remembered a disturbing phone call from a good friend in the Obama Administration. I have known this friend for years. The call was a short time after 9/11 (maybe Oct. 2012?) In the call, my friend told me that my colleague Jennifer Griffin, who was aggressively reporting on Benghazi, was wrong and that, as a favor to me, my friend in the Administration was telling me so that I could tell Jennifer so that she did not ruin her career. My friend was telling me to tell Jennifer to stop her reporting. Ruin her career?
In 20 plus years, I have never received a call to try and shut down a colleague – not that I even could – this was a first. Here is what I know: Jennifer is a class act...experienced...and a very responsible journalist. One of the absolute best in the business – no axe to grind, she just wants the facts.
I told my friend before I go to Jennifer telling her she is wrong, I need proof she is wrong, strong proof and you need to be specific - what are you saying she is getting wrong? We went around and around — including the statement again that this was just a call as a favor to Jennifer and me to save Jennifer’s career from reporting incorrect information. I got no proof. Zero. I smelled a rat. Favor to me? Hardly. My friend was trying to use me. I feel bad that a friend did that to me, tried to use me for a dirty reason. I knew then — and it is now confirmed by BIPARTISAN Senate Intelligence Committee — Jennifer was getting her facts right. I think it is really low for the Administration to stoop this low.
In her post on Gretawire, Van Susteren points out that in the early days following the assault on the facility, Fox was not invited to participate in a conference call hosted by the State Department press shop regarding the attack that other media outlets were invited to.
"Our friends in other media outlets were scandalized that Fox was not included and told us all about it. They were suspicious of State Department forgetting us/Fox and courageous to tip us off. The State Department claimed it was [an] accident and not intentional," Van Susteren writes.
However, it did not stop there. The network was later shut out of a CIA briefing that other outlets were invited to:
Then we had to listen to all the silliness about a video…what was with that? Did anyone ever really think that was legitimate?
And there were many times in the months and years since September 2012 when Obama Administration officials would make comments to suggest that Fox was just doing the Benghazi reporting for political reasons. The Administration was doing what it could to deter and demean the Fox News Channel investigation. They did not want to give us the facts — so their strategy was to attempt to belittle and demean our reporting.
It should be noted that CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson frustrated the administration and her employer with her Benghazi attack investigation. The Washington Post reported in May of 2013 that her own network was growing discouraged with her reporting of the issue, and she was having problems getting her Benghazi stories aired. The administration's constant stonewalling of the CBS reporter never deterred her, but it did annoy the veteran journalist.
The Post reported:
I find [that] improper,” she said. “You could say suspicious.” Suspicious? “We don’t know what we don’t know,” she says. “There could be political reasons or valid national security reasons [for not replying]. I just don’t know. I know they haven’t made a good argument” for why public disclosure of the material would harm national security.
In August of 2013, it was confirmed that Attkisson's computer had been hacked. CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair said that a cybersecurity firm hired by CBS News "has determined through forensic analysis [that] Attkisson's computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions in late 2012." CBS, however, did not accuse the government of accessing Attkisson's computer. This revelation came on the heels of the Justice Department's July 2013 seizures of Fox News Channel's James Rosen's e-mails.
Many sources related to the Benghazi attack were stifled by the administration as well. Breitbart News first reported in December of 2012 that the State Department was keeping American evacuees from Benghazi from speaking to Congress. Additionally, Breitbart News first noted in February of 2013 that Benghazi survivors were more than likely forced to sign non-disclosure agreements immediately following the assault on the compound.
According to Fox News, the FBI interviewed Benghazi survivors over a three-day period shortly after the attack. None of the survivors mentioned a protest over a video critical of Islam.
Van Susteren wrote: