Liberal anchor Martin Bashir on Wednesday whined about reporters who actually commit journalism and dare to question the shifting White House story on the death of a U.S. ambassador in Libya. After playing a clip of his colleague, Mike Viqueira, quizzing press secretary Jay Carney, Bashir scolded, "Mike, despite Carney repeating his assertion the administration divulged details of this attack as they came in, why were reporters like yourself not prepared to buy it?" [See MP3 audio here. Video below.]
Viqueira patiently explained, "But some red flag are raised when the explanation does continually shift, especially under political pressure, especially in an election year." Viqueira added that the White House spokesman, two days after the attacks, "made several declarative statements" linking the attack to an anti-Islamic movie. He then pointed out, "As you know, it's been well documented, the explanations evolved over time."
Viqueira did allow: "To be fair to Jay Carney, several times during that briefing earlier, just after the attack, he said there's no evidence at this time to suggest it was anything other than reaction to the film, Martin."
Of course, one reason for that might be because there was no FBI team inside Libya for three weeks.
Additionally, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy on September 12 described the attack as a terrorist incident. As Fox News' James Rosen wondered, "This leaves unexplained how Rice, ostensibly armed with the intelligence community's best assessment, could have offered such a starkly different account in her Sunday show appearances."
ABC correspondent Jake Tapper also pressed Carney, insisting:
TAPPER: President Obama shortly after the attacks told “60 Minutes” that regarding Romney’s response to the attack, specifically in Egypt, the president said that Romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later. Given the fact that so much was made out of the video that apparently had absolutely nothing to do with the attack on Benghazi, that there wasn’t even a protest outside the Benghazi post, didn’t President Obama shoot first and aim later?
A transcript of the October 10 segment can be found below:
MARTIN BASHIR: Today's White House briefing was a heated and contentious affair as Press Secretary Jay Carney fielded a barrage of questions about the attack in Libya that ended with the death of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. Our own Mike Viqueira pressed Mr. Carney on why it's taken so long to get definitive answers.
MIKE VIQUEIRA: How is it determined when to use these assessments, preliminary or not, even though they turn out to be wrong? Isn't there some concern–
JAY CARNEY: Well, we live in a society that values transparency. And this is an administration that values transparency. We had a– we had–
VIQUEIRA: So, this was for our benefit, even though they turned out to be wrong?
CARNEY: I think that's an editorial judgment that you're making. What we are saying is when asked what happened, we gave our assessments based on the information we had at the time.
BASHIR: And the silver fox joins us now live from the White House. Mike, despite Carney repeating his assertion the administration divulged details of this attack as they came in, why were reporters like yourself not prepared to buy it?
VIQUEIRA: Well, I think most people are willing to stipulate the fact that places like Benghazi are very dangerous areas, that our foreign service and diplomat corps is always operating under dangerous circumstances, or at least in many cases. That people are eager to harm American personnel, institutions and symbols around the world, as we unfortunately saw in Benghazi when four people are dead. But some red flag are raised when the explanation does continually shift, especially under political pressure, especially in an election year. Jay Carney on the 14th, two days after the attack, said, made several declarative statements saying because of the anti-Islamic film stirred up ire across the Muslim world. There's no question about that. He said that was the preliminary indication of why that protest occurred in Benghazi. As you know, it's been well documented, the explanations evolved over time. There was Secretary– I'm sorry– Ambassador Rice from the United Nations saying it started out spontaneously, was joined by other terrorist elements, bringing this to yesterday when the State Department saying there was no demonstration against the film, that they were aware of, outside of Benghazi. Now, to be fair to Jay Carney, several times during that briefing earlier, just after the attack, he said there's no evidence at this time to suggest it was anything other than reaction to the film, Martin.
BASHIR: NBC's Mike Viqueira. Thank you, Mike.