A Further Perspective

From Firestorm to Perfect Storm

The mainstream media's shameful role in the Benghazi scandal.

By 10.29.12

Send to Kindle

Fox News has aired a riveting "timeline" program, showing in painful detail the unfolding of the terror attack in Benghazi. It was a deadly firestorm of a planned assault aimed at the United States consulate, at American sovereign soil. What's now crystal clear is that the administration had real time information on what was happening, knew that our ambassador and other Americans were in mortal peril, and nonetheless directed response teams to "stand down." An American ambassador and others defending American soil died horribly. And the President, then leading in the polls, well, he skipped town for a fund raiser in Las Vegas. One would be hard pressed to make up a story more shameful.

The mainstream media have played an almost equally shameful role in the cover up. Even after the latest revelations have been leading the news on Fox and other media, Sunday's Washington Post had no front page article. What's more, a search of the entire first section of Sunday's Post found no article on the Benghazi cover up. There was simply no report whatever on the information, now emerging from many quarters, that contradicts the administration's (many, and false) statements to the public.

Of course, no one paying attention is surprised by this, for the Post has long been a very partisan supporter of the President in news coverage as well as editorial policy. But many of us who recall the more principled Post of a few decades back continue to be disappointed, not to mention very troubled, that this leading newspaper, and others like it, have so transparently abandoned any "watchdog" role during the reign of an administration much in need of monitoring by an aggressive and objective press.

This point is underscored when one considers the stories now circulating, and which a responsible press would be pursuing in order to fulfill its responsibility to keep citizens informed. For example, the reports that General Carter Ham, who was commander of the U.S. Africa Command, was summarily relieved (i.e., fired) because he made clear he would send special forces teams in response to the calls for help from our embattled countrymen in Benghazi. Within moments the General's second in command told him that he was taking over, that the General was relieved. This is scandalous, but apparently not news "fit to print" for our mainstream press.

For comparison, consider the administration's response to Hurricane Sandy's approaching landfall. As with the firestorm in Libya, the "perfect storm" now off the east coast is hard to assess, its future path difficult to predict. Yet our President was all over the national news shows today, pledging to be there and to deploy all sorts of people and equipment to assist even before the event. The President said that Americans "pull together" and "help one another" in times like this, and he professed that supervising reaction to the hurricane is more important than mere campaigning.

How nice it would have been if he had felt the same way on September 11, when Americans were being murdered in Benghazi. But he was ahead in the polls, and Las Vegas beckoned.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author

Ray V. Hartwell, III was a Washington lawyer and a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. He died on February 7, 2014, in Anniston, Alabama.