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Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer continued to hype the right-wing myth that President Obama was missing on the night of the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
During a May 14 panel discussion on the Benghazi investigation during Fox News' Special Report, Krauthammer requested photographic evidence of President Obama's whereabouts on the night of the Benghazi attack:
KRAUTHAMMER: And where was the president on that night? We've all seen the video and the pictures--well the picture of the situation room--of Obama on the night of the Osama raid. And everybody looks at that, oh yeah he was really involved in that. Show me a picture of where he was on the night of the attack in Libya.
Fox News accused President Obama of dismissing as a "sideshow" four Americans killed in attacks in Benghazi, Libya, by distorting remarks he made at a press conference.
During a May 13 press conference, Obama responded to a question regarding the September 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi and the initial talking points used to describe the attack.
Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson accused Obama of dismissing the victims of the attack as a "sideshow," using a version of Obama's response cropped by Fox:
CARLSON: Three things jump out at me. There was the question, right off the bat. The mainstream media is finally paying attention to this story. The president probably knew he was going to possibly get the question now after ABC jumped into the game last week. But to say that is a sideshow, is that offensive to the four people who died in Benghazi? If you're one of those family members today, do you think that's offensive to call this a sideshow?
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Well he said that talk--
CARLSON: We still have not apprehended anybody for those murders, number one. If he's talking about the talking points being a sideshow, you now have people saying that they were changed 12 times and what the White House said originally -- they only changed two words -- may not be the truth.
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On the same day that a poll found that many Republicans did not know where Benghazi was even though they considered last year's terrorist attack there to be the biggest scandal in American history, tea party leader Dick Armey confused the city with the country of Bangladesh.
Fox News on Monday invited Armey, who was ousted as chairman of FreedomWorks last year, to weigh in on the news that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had improperly scrutinized tea party groups to determine if they had abused their tax-exempt status.
"You have to understand that this is a politically-mandated suppression of the expression of resistance to big government," Armey explained. "I'm amazed that anybody would be surprised that this was happening."
"It's a debilitating stupidity on their part. When the real professional really undercovers [SIC] a serious transgression against the law by somebody they won't now be able to prosecute it in an orderly fashion because they biased the case against themselves."
Fox News host Gregg Jarrett pointed out to Armey that the White House had insisted that it was surprised by news that the IRS was targeting tea party groups.
"I imagine that they probably don't know any more about that than they do about Bangladesh or any number of other things," the former House majority leader quipped.
"You mean, Benghazi," Jarrett observed.
"The White House is a beautiful example of being capable of hiding your hands," Armey continued. "First they throw the ball through your window, then they hide their hands and pretend they know nothing about it. Of course, the White House knows about it. They are the most ruthless politicians I've ever seen in America."
A survey released by Public Policy Polling on Monday found that 41 percent of Republicans believed that the alleged Benghazi cover up was the biggest scandal in American history. The poll also found that 39 percent of those people did not know that Benghazi was located in Libya.
Bangladesh is located in South Asia, about 6,000 miles from Benghazi.
Evening news coverage throughout April touched upon several economic issues, including income inequality, deficit reduction, and entitlement cuts. A Media Matters analysis of this coverage reveals that many of these segments lacked proper context or necessary input from economists, while some networks ignored certain issues entirely.Economic Inequality Largely Unmentioned
Economic Inequality Mentioned In Only 12 Segments. Of the total 123 segments discussing policy effects on the economy, only 12 -- slightly less than 10 percent of economic news coverage -- mentioned income and wealth inequality and current policy's disproportionate impact on low-income earners.
MSNBC Led All Networks In Inequality Coverage. MSNBC devoted about 25 percent of its economic coverage to discussing the disparity between the rich and poor, leading the coverage of news networks on the issue. CNN devoted about 10 percent of its coverage to economic inequality, and Fox News devoted 4 percent. ABC, CBS, and NBC provided no mentions of inequality.Deficit Reduction Still In Spotlight
Calls For Deficit Reduction Outnumber Calls For Economic Growth. Of the total 123 segments discussing the economy, 35 mentioned that economic growth and job creation are a priority, while 45 discussed the need for cutting government spending to reduce the deficit.
Fox News Most Vocal In Calls For Deficit Reduction. When mentions of economic priorities are broken down by network, it is clear that Fox News' coverage drives talk of deficit reduction. The network had the largest disparity in calls for deficit reduction over economic growth, mentioning it 30 times in the period analyzed.
Falling Deficits Absent From Segments Calling For Deficit Reduction. While 45 segments on the economy discussed the need for deficit reduction, only four total segments mentioned that deficits are projected to fall in coming years.Supposed Need For Entitlement Cuts In Focus
Rising Healthcare Costs -- The Main Driver Of Deficits -- Overshadowed By Calls For Entitlement Cuts. A total of 27 segments focused on the perceived need for entitlement cuts, while zero noted that the main driver of long-term entitlement costs are largely due to rising healthcare costs.Economists Still Underrepresented In Coverage
Economists Account For Four Percent Of Guests. Of the total 196 guests brought on to talk about the economy, only eight were identified as economists. Political guests and journalists accounted for the majority of guests, with 75 guests from each group.Methodology
Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts of evening (defined as 5 p.m. through 11 p.m.) programs on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and network broadcast news from April 1 through April 30. We identified and reviewed all segments that included any of the following keywords: econom!, jobs, growth, debt, and deficit. When transcripts were incomplete, we reviewed video.
The following programs were included in the data: World News with Diane Sawyer, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Evening News (CBS), Face the Nation, Nightly News with Brian Williams, Meet the Press with David Gregory, Fox News Sunday, The Situation Room, Erin Burnett OutFront, Anderson Cooper 360, Piers Morgan Live, The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton, All In with Chris Hayes, The Rachel Maddow Show, and The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. For shows that air re-runs (such as Anderson Cooper 360 and Hardball with Chris Matthews), only the first airing was included in data retrieval.
Media Matters only included segments that had substantial discussion of policy implications on the macroeconomy. We did not include teasers or clips of news events, and re-broadcasts of news packages that were already counted on their initial broadcast in the 5p.m.-11p.m. window.
We defined segments that discuss economic inequality as those which mention the disparity in economic gains between high- and low-income individuals, including disproportionate effects of sequestration.
We define segments that call for deficit reduction as a priority as those where either the host or guest mentions deficit and debt reduction as a pressing need.
We define segments that call for economic growth as a priority as those where either the host or guest mentions economic growth and job creation as pressing needs.
We define segments that call for entitlement cuts as those where either the guest or host mentions the need for benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
We counted all guests that appeared in relevant segments, using bios, profiles, resumes, and news stories available online to determine as best we could each guest's educational background and professional experience.
We defined an economist as someone who either holds an advanced degree in economics or has served as an economics professor at the college or university level. In cases where it was unclear whether or not the guest held an advanced degree, they were classified in the next most descriptive cohort.
Media Matters defined a political guest as any former or current elected government official or political appointee, any political strategist, or any former or current political party official (such as former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele).
We defined a journalist as a guest whose main profession is associated with a media outlet, such as contributors, correspondents, or columnists.
From the May 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.
zOMG, all of Teh Things!
We'll pick up where we left off, with the world collapsing under the weight of Republican outrage, which is so pure and fiery and beautiful. And just maybe, we'll find a way to talk about something normal, too. After all, there's still plenty we've left aside in order to join in the great national freak-out.
When the world's going bananas, it's good to be among friends. We'll see where the morning takes us.
UPDATE: Jon Perr will be joining us in the second hour, to discuss his Sunday piece, Benghazi and the Republican scandal management playbook.
We're LIVE at 9 a.m. ET with Kagro in the Morning, thanks to NetrootsRadio.com.
download the Stitcher app on your favorite mobile device, and search for the Netroots Radio live stream? And hey, when you do, be sure to sign up with the promo code DAILYKOS, and earn Daily Kos Radio $1 in the Stitcher affiliate program!
Please do remember to "favorite" us while you're at Stitcher. We're bouncing up and down in the rankings these days, and the more of you who help us, the more listeners out there who'll find us on the Stitcher network.
Miss the last show? You can catch it here:Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE
They support responsible gun ownership laws, including universal background checks, limits on clip/magazine capacity, and restrictions on semi-automatic weapons.
They think "Drill Here, Drill Now" is crap and that “environmental regulations protect our health and our families by lowering toxic levels of mercury, arsenic, carbon dioxide and other life-threatening pollution in our air and water.”
And I expect they agree that Jason Richwine's assertions about their alleged inassimilableness into American society is a big pile of mierda.
My conclusion: We should all be as smart as our Hispanic fellow human beings. Now give me my f***g Ph.D., Harvard.
Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
• Portland, OR: Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?
Sadly, it seems like Portlanders may be ready to burn a few scientists at the stake. Voters will decide on the fluoridation measure at the ballot box on May 21, and a new SurveyUSA poll shows an exasperating 48 percent plan to vote against it, while just 39 percent are in favor. Of course, polling ballot measures is inherently difficult, but really, this shouldn't be up for debate. Well, at least Portland will protect its precious bodily essences, and Gen. Jack D. Ripper's sacrifice won't have been in vain.
A Plain Blog About Politics - impeachment off the table?
Balloon Juice - the IRS has never picked on liberal groups! And ... Benghazi!
Booman Tribune - turns out people with guns kill people;
Instaputz - or maybe not with the impeachment thing;
Legal Schnauzer - no one could have predicted that a big bank would abuse the debt collection process.
President Barack Obama learned on Monday what can happen to presidents caught up in allegations of scandal: they have to address them instead of anything else. [...] A week ago, Obama was confronting a single investigative proceeding on Capitol Hill on the subject of the deadly attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, last September.
It was attracting relatively little public attention outside conservative circles, and he could dismiss as partisan because only Republicans were pushing it.
On Monday he confronted the prospect of multiple probes, with those into the IRS backed by Obama's Democratic allies in Congress as Democrats moved quickly to show they were as concerned as Republicans about alleged IRS abuses.
On top of that, the AP is assessing options for legal action in response to the government's actions, said David Schulz, an attorney representing the AP.The Washington Post's Dana Milbank:
Outrage is appropriate [on the IRS revelations], but Obama’s response did him little good because it failed to get him out in front of the scandal. Rather than taking quick action — firing those involved or opening an investigation with more teeth than the inspector general’s — he has left himself at the mercy of events, and will be called to respond as details dribble out.
This was exactly his problem with Benghazi. Obama correctly said in response to Pace’s multi-headed question that the squabble over the talking points is a “sideshow.” But his administration wrote the script for this sideshow by not getting the details out quickly.More analysis of the week's top stories below the fold.
Angelina Jolie revealed Tuesday that she has undergone a double mastectomy to reduce her high risk of breast cancer, saying she is speaking out to encourage women address threats to their health.
Jolie, whose mother died of cancer at the age of 56, said she had managed to keep the issue quiet and continue working. Her medical procedures ended late last month. "But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience," she said.
The 37-year-old American actress wrote in an opinion piece entitled "My Medical Choice" in The New York Times that she had chosen the procedure because she carries a faulty gene that increases her risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.
Jolie, one of Hollywood's best-known faces and the partner of actor Brad Pitt, said that because of this gene, known as BRCA1, her doctors estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.Fact file on breast cancer.
"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy," she wrote.
"I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex," Jolie wrote.
She said that on April 27 she completed the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved.
Jolie said her chances of developing breast cancer are now down to five percent.
Jolie and Pitt have three adopted and three biological children.
"I can tell my children they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," Jolie said.
Jolie described a several-stage surgical process, the main one of which is an operation that can take up to eight hours as the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place.
"You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life," Jolie wrote.Actress Angelina Jolie and actor Brad Pitt arrive for the Oscars on February 26, 2012 in Hollywood, California.
The final phase of the process involved reconstruction of the breasts with implants, she said, adding: "There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years and the results can be beautiful."
Jolie said Pitt has been a huge source of support.
"Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries," she said, adding that "we managed to find moments to laugh together."
Jolie said she has only small scars after the ordeal, with nothing alarming for her children to see.
"On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."
Jolie, one of the world's highest-paid performers, said the cost of getting tested for BRCA1 and another faulty gene, called BRCA2, is more than $3,000 in the United States and that this "remains an obstacle for many women".
She said she hopes women living under the threat of cancer will be able to get tested.
"Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of," Jolie wrote.A photo released by the British Foreign Office shows Foreign Secretary William Hague (R) and UNHCR special envoy Angelina Jolie (L) talking to refugees on March 25 in DR Congo.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who has been working with Jolie in the past few months in her role as UN special envoy for refugee issues to highlight the problem of sexual violence in conflict, said she was "a brave lady".
Hague and Jolie visited Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo in March and successfully joined forces at a meeting of G8 finance ministers last month to win a pledge to act against the use of rape as a weapon of war.
"She's a courageous lady, a very professional lady. She's done a lot of work with me in recent months and travelled with me through some difficult places in the Congo," Hague told Sky News television.
"She gave no sign that she was undergoing such treatment. She's a very brave lady not only to carry on with her work so well during such treatment, also to write about it now and talk about it. She's a brave lady and will be an inspiration to many."Related Stories
From the May 14 edition of Fox News' The Five:
From the May 14 edition of Fox News' The Five:
ABC News is now claiming that its Benghazi "exclusive" was based on summaries of emails between administration aides, not the emails themselves -- an assertion belied by their earlier reports.
CNN's Jake Tapper reported on May 14 that he had obtained an email sent by White House aide Ben Rhodes that "differs from how sources inaccurately quoted and paraphrased it in previous accounts to different media organizations," including ABC's Karl. According to Tapper, previous accounts of the email made it "appear that the White House was 'more interested in the State Department's desire to remove mentions of specific terrorist groups and warnings about these groups so as to not bring criticism to the State Department than Rhodes' email actually stated.'"
The conservative media has spent months obsessing over the Benghazi talking points that administration officials were discussing in those emails. According to right-wing conspiracy, the administration edited the talking points to downplay the role of terrorism in the attack in order to benefit the Obama reelection campaign. In fact, as then-CIA director David Petraeus noted, the talking points were changed to avoid interfering with the ongoing investigation into the perpetrators -- an account bolstered by the full version of the Rhodes email.
ABC News has responded by claiming their original reporting was based on summaries of the emails, not the emails themselves. In a statement to the Washington Post's Erik Wemple, an ABC spokesperson wrote: "Assuming the email cited by Jake Tapper is accurate, it is consistent with the summary quoted by Jon Karl." Karl himself has responded that rather than reviewing the emails themselves, he actually had been "quoting verbatim a source who reviewed the original documents and shared detailed notes." He added that "[t]he source was not permitted to make copies of the original e-mails," suggesting that his original report was based solely on that source's summaries, and denied that the summaries provided an inaccurate take on the original email.
But ABC News and Karl himself have repeatedly suggested he had obtained the actual emails, not summaries of emails from Rhodes and others in the administration.
In the third paragraph of his May 10 ABCNews.com article, Karl reported that "White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department" (emphasis added). Three paragraphs later, he wrote that "Summaries of White House and State Department emails -- some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard -- show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points" (emphasis added). That was the sole reference to "summaries" in the online article. Instead, he repeatedly produced quotes from what he described as "emails," suggesting that he had personally reviewed the original documents.
Karl and his ABC News colleagues also repeatedly suggested on-air that he had obtained the actual emails.
Reporting on ABC's Good Morning America on May 10, Karl neither said he had personally reviewed the emails, nor said he had reviewed summaries. Instead, he said he had "had emails read to me," then provided what he described as a direct quote from a State Department spokeswoman's email.
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Karl likewise cited "an email obtained by ABC" on the May 10 edition of ABC's World News and read the comments from the State Department spokeswoman as a "quote" from that email. (via Nexis).
Similarly, ABC's Martha Raddatz referred to Karl having "exclusively obtained the emails" on the May 12 edition of This Week, while Reena Ninan referenced "emails exclusively unearthed" by Karl on the May 11 World News.
It seems reasonable for readers to assume that when, for instance, a reporter publishes a direct quote attributed to a White House staffer from what is described as "an email dated 9/14/12 at 9:34 p.m.," the reporter is producing the actual words the aide wrote. Now ABC News is claiming that that is not the case.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is admonishing conservatives -- many of whom have appeared on the channel for which he works -- for baselessly tying President Obama to allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny in their efforts to obtain nonprofit tax status.
During a May 13 joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama addressed a question about the IRS controversy, calling the behavior "outrageous" if true and added that "there's no place for it. And they have to be held fully accountable."
On the May 14 edition of America Live, O'Reilly pushed back against efforts by conservatives to directly tie Obama to the IRS controversy. O'Reilly told co-host Martha MacCallum he does not believe Obama explicitly told the IRS to target conservative groups "because that's insane." O'Reilly added: "But you can't connect it to him without gross speculation. ... Conservative commentators provide cover for Obama when they go further than the facts take them, when they speculate."
The National Review Online falsely attributed convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell's illegal practices to judges who have "declared every abortion sacrosanct."
This assertion from a May 13 editorial, "Gosnell is Not an Aberration," flies in the face of a mounting pile of judicial decisions upholding restrictions on abortion and Roe v. Wade's explicit holding that the right to reproductive choice is not unqualified.
NRO identifies judges as "enablers" of Gosnell's illegal practices, stating:
Gosnell had thousands of enablers: every judge and justice who has declared every abortion sacrosanct, every politician who has blocked meaningful regulation and oversight of the practice, and every intellectual who has furthered the notion that what resides in a woman's womb is nothing more than a meaningless clump of cells.
The Supreme Court in theory allows for the protection of infants who have reached the stage of viability, but in practice the Court has made enforcement of such laws all but impossible, which is why prosecutions of late-term abortions are exceedingly rare, even in states such as Pennsylvania, where the practice is nominally illegal.
The Supreme Court's decisions do not support this. Notably, although the Court in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA v. Casey, concluded that "the essential holding of Roe v. Wade should be retained and once again reaffirmed," the Court also upheld four provisions of a Pennsylvania statute that sharply restricted access to abortion--striking down only a provision requiring a woman to provide a signed statement that she had notified her spouse of her intent to seek an abortion.
Writing for a plurality of the Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor explicitly defined Roe's holding to include limitations on the right to terminate a pregnancy:
First is a recognition of the right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State. Before viability, the State's interests are not strong enough to support a prohibition of abortion or the imposition of a substantial obstacle to the woman's effective right to elect the procedure. Second is a confirmation of the State's power to restrict abortions after fetal viability, if the law contains exceptions for pregnancies which endanger a woman's life or health. And third is the principle that the State has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that may become a child. These principles do not contradict one another; and we adhere to each.
In keeping with these three interests, the plurality upheld an informed consent provision, pre-procedure counseling requirements, a 24-hour waiting period, and a parental consent requirement for minors. These restrictions remain on the books today, a fact that NRO recognized: "The state of Pennsylvania disallows most abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy, meaning that practically all of Gosnell's late-term abortions were crimes."
Not only did the Casey court uphold significant restrictions, it did so by a bare plurality. As Justice Harry Blackmun noted in a separate opinion, Roe hung by a thread:
Three years ago, in Webster v. Reproductive Health Serv., 492 U.S. 490 (1989), four Members of this Court appeared poised to "cas[t] into darkness the hopes and visions of every woman in this country" who had come to believe that the Constitution guaranteed her the right to reproductive choice. Id., at 557 (Blackmun, J., dissenting). See id., at 499 (opinion of Rehnquist, C.J.); id., at 532 (opinion of Scalia, J.). All that remained between the promise of Roe and the darkness of the plurality was a single, flickering flame. Decisions since Webster gave little reason to hope that this flame would cast much light. See, e. g., Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 497 U.S. 502, 524 (1990) (opinion of Blackmun, J.). But now, just when somany expected the darkness to fall, the flame has grown bright.
I do not underestimate the significance of today's joint opinion. Yet I remain steadfast in my belief that the right to reproductive choice is entitled to the full protection afforded by this Court before Webster. And I fear for the darkness as four Justices anxiously await the single vote necessary to extinguish the light.
Justice Blackmun's prediction that the Court's composition could affect the right to choose proved prophetic. In its 2000 opinion in Stenberg v. Carthart, the Court reaffirmed the right to terminate a pregnancy when necessary to preserve a woman's health and thus struck down Nebraska's limitation on so-called "partial birth abortions."
However, only six years later in Gonzalez v.Carhart, the Court upheld a similar federal ban. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her dissenting opinion, "for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health." She observed that the decision was in direct conflict with its prior precedent, and identified the Court's composition as the reason for that departure:
Though today's opinion does not go so far as to discard Roe or Casey, the Court, differently composed than it was when we last considered a restrictive abortion regulation, is hardly faithful to our earlier invocations of "the rule of law" and the "principles of stare decisis." Congress imposed a ban despite our clear prior holdings that the State cannot proscribe an abortion procedure when its use is necessary to protect a woman's health. See supra, at 7, n. 4. Although Congress' findings could not withstand the crucible of trial, the Court defers to the legislative override of our Constitution-based rulings. See supra, at 7-9. A decision so at odds with our jurisprudence should not have staying power.
Nonetheless, NRO mischaracterizes the Court's decisions, which have increasingly limited Roe's reach:
Thanks to the misguided social entrepreneurship of the Supreme Court, abortion is protected as a constitutional absolute, and late-term abortions, grisly as they are, enjoy substantial protection as well.
From the May 14 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
For months, the Obama administration has been subject to media criticism for its initial statements linking the September attacks in Benghazi, Libya, to an anti-Islam video that had triggered protests across the Middle East at that time. President Obama has been accused of attempting to deliberately deceive the public in order to benefit his reelection campaign. But several media reports, filed from Libya in September and October and citing the statements of witnesses, show that at the time there was a reasonable case that the video played a role in the events of that day.
Much of the media's criticism has been based on a false premise. They claim that rather than accurately identify the attacks as terrorism, the administration chose to attribute them to the film. But in addition to ignoring the fact that President Obama referred to the attacks as an "act of terror" at least twice in the days after September 11, this line of logic is a false dichotomy: it ignores the possibility that the attackers may have been terrorists, but their reason for engaging in that particular act of terror was because they were enraged by the film.
That is the conclusion that the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis came to in the initial draft of the much-ballyhooed talking points on the attack: They reported that the attacks had been "spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" -- protests triggered by the video -- and committed by "Islamic militants with ties to al Qa'ida." The latter point was removed from later drafts in order to avoid interfering with the ongoing investigation into the perpetrators, but every version of the talking points stated that the attacks had been "inspired by the protests," and thus the video. In fact, CIA director David Petraeus criticized the final version of the talking points for not doing enough to link the attacks to the protests.
By definition, terrorism aims to further a political agenda. That means that terrorists have stated grievances, however horribly flawed those may be. Until the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack are captured, it is impossible to say for certain what their motivations were for engaging in those terrorist acts. But a review of reporting from Benghazi shows that the administration's comments suggesting that the video provided a motivation were not far-fetched.
It's no surprise that in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, reporting was often confused and contradictory. Some of the stories below state that there was a protest outside the diplomatic facility before the attack began, while others say that there was not (the State Department's review of the attacks concluded that there had been no protest).
But all four accounts provide on-the-scene reporting finding that residents of Benghazi - in some cases witnesses to the attacks citing the claims of the attackers themselves -- linked them to the anti-Islam video.
New York Times: "Libyans Who Witnessed the Assault And Know The Attackers" Say They Cited The Video. On October 16, in a story featuring Suliman Ali Zway's contributed reporting from Benghazi, Libya, the Times reported that according to "Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers," the perpetrators had cited their anger at the video as the reason for their actions:
To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence.
''It was the Ansar al-Shariah people,'' said Mohamed Bishari, a 20-year-old neighbor who watched the assault and described the brigade he saw leading the attack. ''There was no protest or anything of that sort.''
United States intelligence agencies have reserved final judgment pending a full investigation, leaving open the possibility that anger at the video might have provided an opportunity for militants who already harbored anti-American feelings. But so far the intelligence assessments appear to square largely with local accounts. Whether the attackers are labeled ''Al Qaeda cells'' or ''aligned with Al Qaeda,'' as Republicans have suggested, depends on whether that label can be used as a generic term for a broad spectrum of Islamist militants, encompassing groups like Ansar al-Shariah whose goals were primarily local, as well as those who aspire to join a broader jihad against the West.
Economic media coverage has been heavily focused on advocating for deficit reduction, even as deficits decline and the federal government posts a surplus.
Calls for deficit reduction beat out mentions of other economic issues, most notably the need for economic growth and job creation, and economic inequality.
The continued focus on deficit reduction is particularly interesting given the fact that, in the month of April, the federal government posted the largest budget surplus in five years. Furthermore, according to the Congressional Budget Office, current and projected deficits are expected to decline in coming years.
Even conservatives have recently acknowledged that deficit reduction is not the country's most pressing economic issue. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), agreeing with President Obama, stated that the country is not facing an immediate debt crisis, a notion shared by prominent Democrats. And John Makin, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, remarked that Congress has already enacted enough deficit reduction.
Meanwhile, economists have expressed concerns over media's focus on deficits, instead calling attention to resolving the very real immediate crisis of unemployment. Economist Jared Bernstein recently began a series on the path to full employment, and numerous other economists have advocated increased short-term spending to bolster economic growth and job creation.
Furthermore, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has even pointed out that focusing on jobs and growth -- not spending cuts -- provides an effective avenue for deficit reduction.
CNN is challenging the accuracy of reporting on a supposed email from a White House aide that seemed to suggest an effort to provide political cover for the administration following the September attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The new revelations regarding the email comes after the allegedly flawed reporting has spread through the media.
CNN host Jake Tapper reported today that a newly obtained email from White House aide Ben Rhodes about Benghazi "differs from how sources inaccurately quoted and paraphrased it in previous accounts to different media organizations." Tapper writes that the email shows that someone provided outlets like ABC News and The Weekly Standard with "inaccurate information" to make it appear that the White House was "more interested in the State Department's desire to remove mentions of specific terrorist groups and warnings about these groups so as to not bring criticism to the State Department than Rhodes' email actually stated."
From Tapper's report:
In the email sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 9:34 p.m., obtained by CNN from a U.S. government source, Rhodes wrote:
"Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.
"There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don't compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.
"We can take this up tomorrow morning at deputies."
You can read the email HERE.
ABC News reported that Rhodes wrote: "We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don't want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting." The Weekly Standard reported that Rhodes "responded to the group, explaining that Nuland had raised valid concerns and advising that the issues would be resolved at a meeting of the National Security Council's Deputies Committee the following morning."
Whoever provided those quotes seemingly invented the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed. While Nuland, particularly, had expressed a desire to remove mentions of specific terrorist groups and CIA warnings about the increasingly dangerous assignment, Rhodes put no emphasis at all in his email on the State Department's concerns.
The allegedly inaccurate characterizations of the Rhodes email by ABC News and The Weekly Standard were repeated in numerous media outlets, and a Republican research document.