PBS Washington Week Panel Prattles for Six Minutes on Susan Rice; Seven Words Vaguely Touching on Benghazi

On Friday night’s Washington Week on PBS, they turned to Susan Rice’s nomination to be National Security Adviser at the 15-minute mark. Host Gwen Ifill and New York Times reporter David Sanger discussed the matter for a little more than six minutes, but when did Benghazi come up?

Answer: twenty seconds before the segment’s end, when Sanger mentioned in passing that Rice and Obama may have had an understanding that she would be Secretary of State, but perhaps “Benghazi and her statements on that derailed that.” The word “false” did not precede “statements.”

ABC’s Martha Raddatz only cared about assessing the historical legacy of Tom Donilon, the outgoing National Security Adviser. NBC’s Pete Williams asked, “What about Susan Rice’s style? They’re very different people [she and Donilon]. Will she more assertive? Will she be more in the inner circle?” There were only three journalists on the panel, which was one guest short so PBS stations could push for pledges.

Ifill ended by asking Sanger if the Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel should be worried about having as much influence as Rice and UN Ambassador-designate Samantha Power, both serious Obama insiders. It was a bit comical that Sanger worried about too much policy uniformity on the team:

SANGER: In this case, we haven’t seen much friction yet, between John Kerry, for example, and Secretary Hagel at Defense, and so we don’t know yet quite how this is going to play out. But there is very much the sense that the president isn’t going to hear as much contention in the system as he did in the first term, and that can be bad news, because sometimes you need that contention in the system to air out not only differences, but other policy options.

Why is this funny? Because PBS never wants any policy differences or contention on its talk shows (and neither does NPR). It screens out contentious conservatives in favor of a comfortable liberal consensus. Hence, no one thinks to ask about the Rice pick being a middle-finger salute to the Republicans on Benghazi.

Ifill ended the show by saluting two Democrats. She remembered the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg insisting he should be thanked whenever you sit on a smoke-free airplane, and then congratulated Rep. John Dingell for becoming the longest serving member of Congress for more than 57 years. Together with his father who preceded him in office, she cracked, "That's 80 years of Dingells! Congratulations!"

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