MRC president Brent Bozell appeared on “The Kelly File” with substitute host Martha MacCallum to discuss new e-mails about Benghazi and Fox News coverage of Benghazi.
The e-mails are between State Department PR operative Victoria Nuland and friendly Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, discussing the alleged “BS” on Fox during “The O’Reilly Factor” on September 13, 2012, two days after the consulate attacks. Bozell thought the Obama publicist and the AP reporter sounded way too much like each other. (Video, transcript below)
BOZELL: What we learn is that a reporter during the Obama administration and an Obama administration official are indistinguishable. If you close your eyes, and you hear -- listen to these e-mails going back and forth, they both sound like political operatives, which is what they were. The media's role is supposed to be a watchdog on power, and what you've got in the Obama years is a press that is blatantly supporting this administration and blatantly taking the side and becoming the mouthpiece for this administration.
It doesn't matter whether that story was true or not. What matters in this case is that this reporter from the AP immediately took administration's position and immediately wanted to go after Fox because of a dislike for Fox News.
MacCALLUM: You know, we looked because of this, we went back and said what was being said that night on Fox that he is calling utter bs? And, you know, going back over it, there wasn't a whole lot to be honest, but there was some coverage that night on O'Reilly. O'Reilly said that it was likely a coordinated attack, in his opinion. He said that the film was being used as an excuse, both of which have turned out to be true. Laura Ingraham raised the question that night, where was the President during this attack? We still don't know the answer to that. But, you know, you go through this and it's really hard to find out what was so inflammatory to be called utter BS by this reporter. It raises –
BOZELL: If you --
MACCALLUM: Go ahead, Brent.
BOZELL: Well, if you look at the e-mail string, they happen between 9:19 and 9:57, that was during the O'Reilly show. What O'Reilly was saying in that show to Laura Ingraham, is that the video story, excuse is not going to sell. This was a coordinated attack. Now somehow that became something irrational that had to be disputed. But it's important to note that this reporter from the AP didn't know what Bill O'Reilly was saying was untrue. He simply accepted that it was untrue because the White House thought it was untrue.
MACCALLUM: Right. You know, but on the other hand, you know, as a reporter you look at this, you say, it's not unusual to try to sort of, you know, warm up to your source so that when they do start to have more details, they're going to say look, we can trust this guy. You know, he's written, reported on this accurately. Let's go back to him when we get more details. You know, is this an example of that or is it something more in your opinion?
BOZELL: I think a reporter needs to ask questions. This man is not asking questions. He is saying in effect, to Victoria Nuland, how can I help you? How can I put forward this administration's position as best I can? He's not asking questions. He's declaring his intent to help.
Back on September 13, 2012, Bill O’Reilly told liberal Rep. Keith Ellison: “It’s going to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that these attacks in Cairo and Libya were coordinated on 9/11 as a direct act of war against the United States.” Later, he told Ingraham: “The stupid film has nothing to do with it.... It doesn’t have anything to do with it. It’s just an excuse. It’s just an excuse.”
A year-and-a-half later, we now know — thanks to e-mails obtained by Judicial Watch and a Freedom of Information Act request — that Nuland and Lee were infuriated by this.
MacCallum showed these e-mails on air. Nuland e-mailed Lee asserting "Bs all over this. Don't quote. The director of National Intelligence is batting this down."
Lee agreed with her: “I know it is bullshit. But this is killing you guys. Been watching FoxNews tonight and the amount of mis- and dis-information is frankly shocking.”
In a later e-mail: “The utter bullshit that is being spread around on Fox, and I assume other outlets including The Guardian [actually The Independent], is really unbelievable.” At 10:19 pm, Nuland sent a relieved e-mail about Politico: "Mike Allen piece now on Drudge rebutting."
Sure enough, Mike Allen’s byline appears on this Politico article time stamped at 9:36pm ET that night and carrying the official White House line: “The Obama administration is flatly denying a blaring British newspaper report that the U.S. diplomats in Libya were killed as a result of a ‘continuing security breach,’ and that ‘credible information’ about possible attacks had been ignored.”
Lee, the AP reporter who was commiserating with Nuland about the “BS” on Fox, wrote his own Obama-friendly account the next morning, quoting Nuland. His lead sentence was an implicit rebuke to the “warned” storyline of the Independent: “The Obama administration was caught by surprise by the ferocity of the Sept. 11 attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the ambassador and three other Americans....”
Same story: “[U.S. officials] stressed there had been no advance warning or intelligence to suggest a threat in Libya that would warrant boosting security, even on the 11th anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“‘As we did with all of our missions overseas, in advance of the September 11 anniversary and as we do every year, we did evaluate the threat stream and we determined that the security at Benghazi was appropriate for what we knew,’ State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.”
That's not what congressional investigators found. They said the administration ignored "ample" warning of an attack.