By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
The liberal media remain derelict in their duty to vet presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s record on Benghazi, just as they have abandoned any pretense of holding the Obama administration accountable for the many “phony” scandals including the IRS scandal, Fast & Furious, or even the VA scandal. We at Accuracy in Media have repeatedly exposed the mainstream media’s reluctance to question the Obama administration narrative on issues that might threaten their agenda.
Recent offenders circumventing the need to vet Mrs. Clinton’s and President Obama’s Benghazi record include CNN, Reuters and The New York Times—all of which consider themselves premier sources of information.
Rather than waiting for the process of sifting through and then reporting the details of the approximately 30,000 emails that former Secretary of State Clinton has submitted to the State Department—only about half the reported total 62,320 emails on her private email server—CNN instead turned to anonymous government sources for its alleged scoop. CNN’s Elise Labott wrote on April 27 that “the sources who described the emails said they offer no ‘smoking gun’ on Clinton’s actions in the days and weeks leading up to the attack or while the siege on the U.S. facility was ongoing.”
The next day Reuters published a very similar article by Mark Hosenball citing “two people familiar with the material” who made broad, sweeping claims about the information contained within those emails.
CNN’s Labott clearly stated that, like The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt, she was “not permitted to review the emails ahead of their release, but several government officials characterized them and offered detail on some of them on the condition of anonymity.”
But no “smoking gun” email from Mrs. Clinton is necessary to break this scandal wide open or prove that a Benghazi cover-up is still alive and well. And none may ever materialize from that corner, given her decision to wipe clean her private email server. Assertions by media organizations that releasing her emails, which were vetted by Clinton aides before being turned over to the State Department, will somehow clear her record are simply an attempt to throw sand in the eyes of the public.
In addition, Labott reports that “Several former Clinton staffers have told CNN [that Mrs. Clinton] did the vast majority of work in person or on the phone, which is evident by her emails.” Thus, evidence that could prove to be a smoking gun may not exist under those circumstances, even if Mrs. Clinton had directly influenced the security situation in Benghazi or participated in a post-attack cover-up.
Evidence has already been released demonstrating that the former Secretary of State’s aides became aware that this was a terrorist attack about a half an hour after the initial attack began on the Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. It strains credulity to presume that these aides did not inform then-Secretary Clinton of the known facts at that time.
“Mrs. Clinton actually issued a statement on the night of [the attack] stating, ‘Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,’ a clear reference to the Internet video,” I noted in a recent column criticizing Schmidt’s reporting.
The public record has already established that President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, AFRICOM’s Carter Ham, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey were all told that the assault in Benghazi was a terrorist attack almost immediately after they began. Yet the President and his administration still continued to blame a YouTube video titled “The Innocence of Muslims.”
As revealed in their book, 13 Hours, the Annex Security Team (AST) was also told by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency to stand down three times before they unilaterally left the CIA Annex one mile away and went to the aid of the beleaguered diplomatic personnel at the Special Mission Compound.
Labott continued, writing that CNN’s anonymous sources “added that contrary to charges by Republican lawmakers like McCain, there is no evidence that a ‘stand down’ order was given to prevent American forces from responding to the violence in Benghazi and none of the emails suggest Clinton was involved in any sort of cover-up regarding its response to the attack.”
Similarly, Hosenball writes that people “familiar with the emails” told him that the email cache “contains no support for Republican accusations that Clinton was involved in efforts to downplay the role of Islamic militants in the deadly 2012 attacks on U.S. installations in Benghazi” and “do not demonstrate that Clinton…was personally involved in decisions that resulted in weak security at the Benghazi outposts.”
“If the sources wouldn’t show them the documents, why are they so confident that what they are being told is the truth—especially if the information is self-serving to the administration, as these revelations clearly were,” I wrote regarding The New York Times.
The same standard should apply to CNN and Reuters.
The point is, how can all these reporters be certain they are getting the facts, sight unseen?
More information regarding the truth about the Benghazi scandal could become available in the near future. Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) requested that Mrs. Clinton appear publicly before the Select Committee in May and June, and has now “received more than 4,000 pages of documents and notes from the State Department’s Benghazi Accountability Review Board” investigation, according to USA Today. Rep. Gowdy offered for Mrs. Clinton to testify under oath that all the necessary documents had been submitted to the Select Committee, testimony which he says “would probably shut off that line of inquiry.” He was referring to the issue of how the emails were turned over from her private server to the State Department.
Mrs. Clinton, through her attorney David Kendall, stated this week that she is willing to take questions from Rep. Gowdy’s Select Committee—but only one time, and only in public. She is refusing the committee’s request to meet twice: once in private to discuss her controversial email usage while at the State Department, and once in public to talk about Benghazi. She has also refused to turn over her email server to the committee, but said that she did turn the rest of her emails over to the State Department. Whether any of the more than 30,000 emails that she destroyed contained communications about Benghazi, or any business of the Clinton Foundation that might reveal coordination over donations, may never be revealed. The public is instead being asked to blindly trust Hillary’s claims that the emails were all personal and had nothing to do with either one of these situations.
Both Labott and Hosenball reported last week that the State Department could be releasing Mrs. Clinton’s emails to the public very soon. With the deadline getting closer, why not just wait until the emails are released and review their actual contents? Instead, these three news organizations published “scoops” which only serve to reiterate and perpetuate the Obama administration’s Benghazi narrative.
Although certain mainstream media organizations refuse to acknowledge the facts about the ongoing Benghazi scandal, turning a blind eye to the truth is no excuse for taking the administration’s word about documents which will soon become public. Not that there are likely to be any smoking guns in these soon-to-be-released emails. The decision to publish articles based on the word of unnamed administration officials instead of demanding to see Mrs. Clinton’s emails first has perpetuated the image of these news outlets as little more than propaganda mouthpieces for the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton.