Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume upbraided the press for its lack of interest in pursuing the Obama administration’s misstatements and dissembling on what they knew before and after the Benghazi terrorist attacks, lamenting on Fox News Sunday that “one of the problems we’re having here is, that it has fallen to this news organization, Fox News and a couple others, to do all the heavy lifting on this story.”
A “couple of others” may be generous. CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson is about the only other major news outlet journalist showing any interest. “The mainstream organs of the media that would be after this like a pack of hounds, if this were a Republican President,” Hume observed, “have been remarkably reticent.”
Audio: MP3 clip
That reticence extended to Sunday’s talk shows. While Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace raised Benghazi, and the newest revelations about how requests for support by CIA operatives on the ground were rejected, with four U.S. Senators (Democrats Mark Warner and Mark Udall, Republicans Rob Portman and Ron Johnson), none of the hosts of the ABC, CBS or NBC shows bothered to bring it up.
Viewers only heard “Libya” or “Benghazi” when a guest mentioned it. And then the hosts moved on.
On ABC’s This Week, Newt Gingrich noted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s refusal to send assistance and chastised President Obama: “He’s canceling his trips over the hurricane. He did not cancel his trips over Benghazi.” Stephanopoulos moved on to another campaign question.
Carly Fiorina, a guest panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press as a surrogate for the Romney campaign, brought up Libya unprompted: “On the issue of trust, what is going on with regard to Libya. I mean, here we have an extraordinary thing where the President comes out on Friday and says I directed that everything possible should be done to aid our embassy under attack. That attack went on for seven hours, we now know that Secretary of Defense saying he denied requests for help over that seven hours.”
Host David Gregory cut her off, but promised: “We’ll get to Libya a little bit later.” He never did. Fiorina’s was the last word on Libya during the program.
It also came up, unprompted by a journalist, on CBS’s Face the Nation. Bob Schieffer asked guest John McCain: “In the last days of this campaign, if this storm turns out to be what they’re telling us it’s going to, who gets hurt the most by it?”
During his reply, McCain asserted: “I’ve been traveling all over. This tragedy turned into a debacle and massive cover-up or massive incompetence in Libya is having an effect on the voter because of their view of the commander in chief. And it is now the worst cover-up or incompetence that I have ever observed in my life.”
Earlier, some examples of the media avoiding Libya/Benghazi:
From the October 28 Fox News Sunday:
BRIT HUME: One of the problems we’re having here is, that it has fallen to this news organization, Fox News and a couple others, to do all the heavy lifting on this story. And the mainstream organs of the media that would be after this like a pack of hounds, if this were a Republican President, have been remarkably reticent. And there’s been some good reporting, but nothing like on the scale and to the degree of specificity that you would expect by now.
Normally, you know, the big news organizations would have this thing out there. And we would know a lot more than we do, about what the President did, what he knew, when he knew it and what order he made, on what basis. We still don’t know that and to some extent a lot of the media, who are a combined potent force, have not done their job.
CHRIS WALLACE: What were you going to say, Joe?
JOE TRIPPI: I was going to say to Brit, what I think is going on, look, this is how it works, you have one or two news groups pushing a story like this, the opposition, asks a lot of questions, too, and, there's a congressional investigation, a State Department investigation and we find out the truth. The problem is, everyone wants to hurry up and find the truth out before the election, which is important.
HUME: Note this: On the morning after the testimony by the first witness who said on Capitol Hill under oath that this was a terrorist attack, the New York Times had zero about that. There has been real reticence here on the part of the major news organizations.