CBS and NBC Cheer Fired Benghazi Committee Staffer’s Claims Giving Hillary ‘a Potential Lifeline’

On Monday, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News prominently touted the claims by a fired staffer on the House Select Committee on Benghazi that the panel’s sole aim is to takedown former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a move that gives her “a potential lifeline” in “another blow” to the committee.

After anchor Scott Pelley dubbed the story “a new controversy tonight surrounding the House Benghazi Committee,” congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes hyped that Bradley Podliska’s “claims are another blow to the House Benghazi investigation, but Republicans say he's lying.” 

Cordes explained that “[t]he Air Force reservist says he was fired as an investigator for the committee because he refused to focus solely on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her e-mails.”

In mentioning the response to Podliska by Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Cordes reported that: 

Podliska was “terminated” in part because “he himself” manifested improper partiality against Clinton. He says Podliska's accusations came only after he “demanded money from the committee” in mediation, and the committee “refused to pay.” Democrats say it is more proof that the committee's chief goal is to destroy the likely Democratic nominee. 

To back him up, Cordes held up “[i]nternal documents obtained by CBS News show that the committee originally planned to hold nine hearings this year to hear from eyewitnesses, intelligence officials, and the secretary of defense, but none of those hearings has taken place, and only one is scheduled with Clinton as the lone witness later this month.” 

As for the coverage on NBC, the tune was predicatably similar. In one of the opening teases, anchor Lester Holt told of a “Benghazi bombshell” as “[a] fired investigator accused the committee of unfairly targeting Hillary Clinton and tonight, he says the congressman leading the investigation is breaking the law.”

Filing from Las Vegas on the eve of the first 2016 Democratic presidential debate, Clinton correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell expressed relief that “Hillary Clinton got a potential lifeline” following “months of being pounded by the Republican-led Benghazi Committee.” 

Citing Podliska’s lawyers, Mitchell reported their latest move against Gowdy and the committee: 

In response this afternoon, lawyers for Bradley Podliska, the fired committee investigator, tell MSNBC Gowdy violated laws by talking about a confidential employment dispute. The committee said that’s ludicrous. The committee was already under fire after Kevin McCarthy's suggestion it was trying to damage Clinton's campaign. 

The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on October 12 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
October 12, 2015
6:33 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Email Trail]

SCOTT PELLEY: There is a new controversy tonight surrounding the House Benghazi Committee, the panel that was set up to investigate the terror attacks in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Investigator Fired]

Committee investigator Bradley Podliska was fired, but he and the committee chairman disagree on why. Here's Nancy Cordes. 

NANCY CORDES: Podliska's claims are another blow to the House Benghazi investigation, but Republicans say he's lying. The Air Force reservist says he was fired as an investigator for the committee because he refused to focus solely on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her e-mails. 

(....)

CORDES: But Republican Trey Gowdy who chairs the committee said Podliska was “terminated” in part because “he himself” manifested improper partiality against Clinton. He says Podliska's accusations came only after he “demanded money from the committee” in mediation, and the committee “refused to pay.” Democrats say it is more proof that the committee's chief goal is to destroy the likely Democratic nominee. They say the House Majority Leader all but confirmed it when he said this: 

(....) 

CORDES: Internal documents obtained by CBS News show that the committee originally planned to hold nine hearings this year to hear from eyewitnesses, intelligence officials, and the secretary of defense, but none of those hearings has taken place, and only one is scheduled with Clinton as the lone witness later this month.

The relevant portions of the transcript from October 12's NBC Nightly News can be found below.

NBC Nightly News
October 12, 2015
7:03 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Benghazi Investigation]

LESTER HOLT: And meantime, as Hillary Clinton prepares for the first big showdown, there are explosive new allegations against the Republican-led committee investigating Benghazi. A fired investigator is going public, saying Hillary Clinton is being unfairly targeted and NBC News has learned that investigator is now accusing the powerful congressman leading the committee of breaking the law. NBC's Andrea Mitchell has late details. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: After months of being pounded by the Republican-led Benghazi Committee, Hillary Clinton got a potential lifeline. A former committee investigator, a Republican intelligence analyst, told CNN he was fired in part for refusing to go after Clinton politically. 

BRADLEY PODLISKA [on CNN’s State of the Union, 10/11/15]: This has become a partisan investigation. 

HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI CHAIRMAN TREY GOWDY (R-S.C.): It is a damn lie and that’s not a word that I often use. 

MITCHELL: The Chairman, Trey Gowdy, talked to NBC News exclusively. 

GOWDY: He was a lousy employee and that was evidence by the fact that he mishandled classified information and won't do what his supervisors instructed him to do. 

MITCHELL In response this afternoon, lawyers for Bradley Podliska, the fired committee investigator, tell MSNBC Gowdy violated federal laws by talking about a confidential employment dispute. The committee said that’s ludicrous. The committee was already under fire after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's suggestion it was trying to damage Clinton's campaign.

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