Andrea Mitchell Fears Benghazi Movie ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Will Hurt Hillary

On her MSNBC show on Monday, host Andrea Mitchell derided the film 13 Hours, opening in theaters nationwide on Friday: “That new film about Benghazi coming out this week could give wider circulation to conspiracy theories, despite denials, that CIA operatives were told to stand down and not rescue four Americans, including an ambassador, who died in that assault.”

Moments later, Mitchell insisted: “...just last week I was interviewing Leon Panetta, who headed the Pentagon, and he and CIA top officials are denying to the Benghazi select committee that this ever happened.” In that same interview, Panetta endorsed Hillary Clinton for president – hardly an objective source about one of the major scandals plaguing the Democratic candidate.

Mitchell’s concern was clear: “How could it affect Hillary Clinton's campaign?...how does Clinton-world deal with it?” She put that question to Washington Post Reporter Anne Gearan, who proclaimed: “Well, I mean, Clinton herself has denied it and it sort of ceases to matter how many officials do deny it, it is something that has gained currency, as you mentioned, as a conspiracy theory largely on the right.”

Gearan worried that it was “out there in the general political conversation as well” and would be “a hard thing for the campaign to deal with because all they've got is essentially they’ve got history and facts on their side.”

Tell the Truth 2016

In a recent exclusive interview with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, three of men who fought in Benghazi and were depicted in the movie – Mark Geist, Kris Paranto, and John Tiegen – all confirmed that they were told to stand down multiple times. 

In a January 5 interview with actor John Krasinski on ABC’s Good Morning America about the film, anchor Lara Spencer fretted that 13 Hours would “re-open the wound, the debate of what happened in Benghazi.”

Clearly some in the media are trying to discredit the movie before it has even been released.

Here is a transcript of Mitchell’s January 11 exchange with Gearan:

12:44 PM ET

ANDREA MITCHELL: That new film about Benghazi coming out this week could give wider circulation to conspiracy theories, despite denials, that CIA operatives were told to stand down and not rescue four Americans, including an ambassador, who died in that assault.

How could it affect Hillary Clinton's campaign? Joining me now for our Daily Fix, Chris Cillizza, MSNBC contributor, founder of The Washington Post’s Fix blog, and Washington Post political correspondent Anne Gearan.

Anne, to you first, you covered the State Department with me and just last week I was interviewing Leon Panetta, who headed the Pentagon, and he and CIA top officials are denying to the Benghazi select committee that this ever happened. But this is a movie, and you know, how does Clinton-world deal with it?

ANNE GEARAN: Well, I mean, Clinton herself has denied it and it sort of ceases to matter how many officials do deny it, it is something that has gained currency, as you mentioned, as a conspiracy theory largely on the right. But it's sort of out there in the general political conversation as well.

It's really a hard thing for the campaign to deal with because all they've got is essentially they’ve got history and facts on their side. They can say, “Look, this didn't happen, here are 18 people who say it didn't happen.” If people believe that it might have happened or that Hillary Clinton isn't telling the truth, then they’re probably going to continue to believe that.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC