CNN's Jake Tapper: 'Obviously' Christie's Getting More Attention on 'Bridgegate' Than Hillary on Benghazi

Conservative talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed CNN host Jake Tapper on Wednesday, and pressed him on whether Gov. Chris Christie is getting more national scrutiny for “Bridgegate” than Hillary Clinton did for the terrorist attacks on the consulate in Benghazi.

“Well obviously, Christie is getting a lot more attention when it comes to Bridgegate than Hillary got when it came to Benghazi,” Tapper acknowledged. Then he strangely suggested that when he covered the Benghazi aftermath in the fall of 2012 (for ABC), he was covering the State Department mistakes, but somehow not...the Secretary of State?

TAPPER: I think that there are complicated reasons for it. I don’t know that Benghazi, pardon me, I don’t know that Benghazi got less coverage in aggregate than Bridgegate got. You know, I think Benghazi was in a lot of ways, that was covered – well, I just know like when I was covering Benghazi right after it happened, it was almost more like a White House story than it was a State Department story, because the White House took control of it. Hillary Clinton didn’t go out on the Sunday shows. Susan Rice did, obviously. And then the story turned to, and I did a lot of my coverage in 2012, September and October, about the State Department not meeting security requests, and that was, it was not focused, per se, on Hillary Clinton as much as it was to the State Department not fulfilling those requests.

Why couldn’t the media focus “per se” on Hillary? It would be lame to suggest that Hillary gets out of tough questions because she ducked the Sunday shows and let Susan Rice do the lying about Benghazi being caused by a flagrantly bad YouTube movie.

Doesn’t it seem obvious that the only thing that makes “Bridgegate” a national obsession – Christie’s potential run for president in 2016 – is also the only thing that seems to keep reporters from focusing on Hillary's lapses on Benghazi? Could Tapper say that if this happened under Condoleezza Rice, that reporters wouldn’t focus “per se” on her? Hewitt followed up:

HEWITT: But we don’t know what she did that night, do we, Jake Tapper? And no one bothers her about it. She’s been allowed to walk away, whereas Christie’s dump trucked a bunch of subpoenas two weeks later.

TAPPER: Hillary Clinton, I do not know what she did that night. I do think that, you know, she was -- look, I don’t, I’m not trying to make excuses for anybody. I’m just trying to look at the perspective of you know, Christie is an incumbent governor. He has an adversarial Democratic legislature launching subpoenas. Christie, it’s also the nature of Christie to go out there and give a two-hour plus press conference and answer all those questions, although he has laid low since then. But still, that was one of the longest press conferences in modern American politics. Hillary Clinton was on her way out, and you know, I can’t tackle her. I haven’t had a chance to interview her since you know, Benghazi happened. I don’t even know, has she done interviews? I think she did some interviews on her way out.

Tapper was on his way out of ABC at that time a year ago as well, and his show "The Lead" didn't debut until March of 2013. Surely Tapper remembers the fawning Steve Kroft interview did with Obama and Hillary that focused overwhelmingly on how the president felt Hillary had done a wonderful job and deserved  a victory lap, which CBS provided. Near the end Kroft could only ask Hillary if she felt guilty about Benghazi, so she could express her personal feelings of loss. 

Tapper said Hillary should give interviews on Benghazi: "The issue isn’t going away. I’m sure she has explanations. I’m sure she has answers to questions. Why not give them if you intend on possibly seeking office someday?"

The obvious answer of Hillary Clinton's career is she never grants interviews that might turn out to be tough. She doesn't  have to answer tough questions. There are far too many "objective" TV interviewers that are interested in providing her a shoe-shine stop.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis