By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
The left-wing, George Soros-funded Media Matters has long held that the Benghazi scandal is a “phony scandal” and parroted the administration’s pronouncements minimizing the scandal. Now, they have penned a book, The Benghazi Hoax, which formalizes this theory.
“The book—the first such endeavor for Media Matters, which is self-publishing it—was conceived of in the spring, as the congressional hearings on Benghazi were taking place, he [David Brock] said,” according to Politico, which focused largely on the pro-Clinton aspects of the book. Brock is described in the article as the “Media Matters founder and Hillary Clinton ally,” and it points out that Brock acknowledges that part—a “fraction,” he claims—of their mission is “Supporting the Clintons.”
“The book is the latest effort this year in what is likely to be more Clinton-centric efforts ahead of 2016.” Indeed, the book mentions 2016 and Clinton several times and dismisses any attempts to tar Clinton’s reputation as part of the Republican-conservative smear machine. They even cry “sexism” on behalf of Clinton.
According to the book, authored by David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt, the genesis of the manufactured Benghazi scandal started in an impromptu statement by then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who was looking to gain the advantage over incumbent President Barack Obama on foreign policy. Romney did make mistakes in his presentation of the issue, a fact that dominated the media coverage for days afterward. But this was not mentioned by Brock and Rabin-Havt.
The authors maintain that “Reporters for established news outlets work with a healthy skepticism for the administration in power, but when Democrats are in the White House, conservatives have become adept at badgering a so-called ‘liberal media’ to prove its lack of bias by adopting their story ideas.” In other words, the liberal media should just ignore conservative points of view entirely, and stories that are embarrassing to liberals, while Democrats are in office.
If Media Matters had its way, the Benghazi incident would just be considered one of many violent incidents abroad, and dismissed entirely. “Had the Benghazi attack not occurred at this unique moment—on a day when the Republican candidate for the presidency and his promoters in the conservative media were desperate for a new storyline, especially one that would undercut the popular effect of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden the year before—this tragedy might not have been converted into a political scandal,” they suggest. “After all, Benghazi was just one of at least 157 attacks on our diplomatic facilities over a 15-year period, 9 of which resulted in U.S. fatalities.”
Actually, this was the first time in 33 years a U.S. ambassador had died as a result of terrorism.
Other important facts left out of the book include the deteriorating security situation leading up to the terrorist attack, the inadequate security at the Special Mission Compound, and the fact that CIA employees are reportedly being polygraphed and forced to sign non-disclosure agreements regarding the Benghazi incident. The book fails to adequately explain what military forces were available at Sigonella, Aviano, and other U.S. military bases during the attack. There is a very shallow retelling of events that barely educates the reader as to what occurred at the Special Mission Compound and CIA Annex. They also continue promoting the YouTube video myth, arguing that the question of whether or not this was a preplanned terrorist attack or an attack resulting from a spontaneous demonstration sparked by the anti-Islam video “would be an enduring part of the Benghazi conversation—one not fully resolved to this day.” While Obama’s explanation changed numerous times on this point, he did end up saying that he had called it an act of terrorism from day one. Apparently Media Matters missed that memo.
The new book, The Benghazi Hoax, reads like a political treatise, spending much of the book “educating” readers about their imagined right-wing smear machine than on the Benghazi incident itself. The authors focus more on minor political fluff such as rhetoric over Clinton’s ill-timed concussion, than on the facts.
The Media Matters authors call the criticism of the President over this incident “beyond the pale,” and cry sexism over the treatment of Hillary Clinton, and racism over the treatment of the “exotic” President—their words, not mine.
Plenty of relevant facts are omitted from the book in a way that misleads the reader, and the presentation of material is so lopsided and incomplete as to defy belief. For example, the books states that “[Former Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory] Hicks actually contradicted the assessment of his attorney that he had been given his current job as a punishment, telling the committee: ‘[M]y family really didn’t want me to go back. We’d endured a year of separation when I was in Afghanistan 2006 and 2007. That was the overriding factor. So I voluntarily curtailed—I accepted an offer of what’s called a no-fault curtailment.’”
“Hicks explained, ‘That means that there’s—there would be no criticism of my departure of post, no negative repercussions,’” continued Media Matters. They forgot to mention that Hicks went on to testify that he had been verbally offered preferential selection when he accepted his voluntary curtailment, but that this never materialized. Instead, he was placed back into the ordinary pool of candidates and had to accept a lower level assignment as a result.
As for the Accountability Review Board report, the Media Matters authors declare that “It was not a politically motivated document, nor did it leave blame on the doorsteps of the President or secretary of state.”
“For this reason alone, it came under attack from conservatives who sought to discredit it, convinced that it had to be a whitewash.”
The ARB report has been called a whitewash because senior State Department officials were not held accountable for the lack of security, or the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. In other words, it did not focus on the actions of Secretary Hillary Clinton, who was not interviewed, or Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, who was interviewed. Regional Security Officer (RSO) Eric Nordstrom critically stated at a May 2013 hearing that the message to his colleagues about the decision to focus on mid-level employees is that “if you’re above a certain level, no matter what your decision is, no one’s going to question it. And that’s my concern with the ARB.”
In fact, the Media Matters authors go out of their way to criticize the Republican hearings as politically motivated without really going over what was said at those many hearings. “House investigations have become maddeningly successful conduits for deceptively framed snippets of transcript from congressional interviews and cherry-picked administration documents,” write Brock and Rabin-Havt. They then refer to the most sensationalized tidbits of Congressional coverage themselves without delving into the meaning of the hearings. Instead, they focus largely on discrediting Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). It is not until seven chapters later, in Hoax 12: “Muzzled,” that they mention a revelation from the hearings: that upon Rep. Chaffetz’s trip to Libya, Cheryl Mills had required Hicks to speak with him only with “a State Department lawyer present.”
“Following the hearing, conservatives looked to save face by jumping on a portion of Hicks’ testimony to claim that he had been the subject of an angry phone call from Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, complaining of his meeting with Chaffetz,” write the authors in inflammatory prose. They fail to mention the reason for Mills anger: Hicks had given a classified briefing to Chaffetz and others for which the State Department lawyer had no clearance and could not attend.
It bears mentioning that the Media Matters authors maintain that the Accountability Review Board (ARB) members had no personal reason to back the administration and politicize the review process; this despite the fact that the investigation did not take place in a political vacuum. What they also don’t mention is that Vice-Chair Admiral Michael Mullen was quite friendly with Cheryl Mills early on during the investigation, despite the fact that he was essentially investigating the State Department. According to Mullen’s own testimony, he gave Mills a friendly call less than 10 days into the investigation to let her know that one of the witnesses he had just interviewed less than 24 hours beforehand was not ready to testify before Congress. The witness in question: Charlene Lamb, who was temporarily placed on administrative leave due to her actions. In addition, it was Mills who had actually called Mullen just weeks earlier to ask him to co-chair the ARB.
“The Media Matters activists do not report [ARB Chair Ambassador Thomas] Pickering has largely unreported ties to the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, as WND revealed,” reported WorldNetDaily in one article of its three-part series by their excellent reporter, Aaron Klein. The articles debunk some of the myths promoted by the new Media Matters book, which has gone largely unacknowledged by the mainstream media.
Klein points out that Pickering is a board member, along with George Soros, of the International Crisis Group (ICG). Among other things, writes Klein, “The ICG itself has long petitioned for talks with Hamas as well as normalized relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, for years urging the Egyptian government to allow the Brotherhood to establish an Islamist political party.”
The real hoax here is that Media Matters is anything other than a Soros-funded propaganda machine for the Obama administration, and especially for Hillary Clinton and her ambitions. If you want to learn about what really happened in Benghazi, check out the website of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, which Accuracy in Media organized to attempt to establish the truth about Benghazi. The commission is continuing to expand its investigation to expose the scandalous cover-up of the facts by the Obama administration and its media lapdogs.