Or at least until Election Day on Anderson Cooper’s show: Anderson Cooper was at it again last night, worrying over Benghazi. At least until Election Day, we will always have Benghazi on Anderson Cooper’s show.
That said, has Cooper ever read the transcripts of what Susan Rice actually said? Early in last night’s program, Bush Homeland Security hack Fran Townsend offered a rather inaccurate paraphrase.
Anderson Cooper let it go, as he always does:
COOPER (10/24/12): Fran, what do you make of this e-mail that was sent to a number of State Department officials, as well as the National Security Council?Check your wallet when these people tell you they're speaking "frankly."
TOWNSEND: Well, Anderson, we shouldn't be surprised by this. Remember, we reported early on, law enforcement sources I had spoken to said the State Department had real-time access to the facts on the ground, because, of course, from the consulate, they called to the embassy in Tripoli, that was patched through to State Department headquarters.
So we knew they had real-time access to information. It is true that in the early going, there is conflicting information, but, Anderson, as you point out, the very same law enforcement officials said that they had interviewed in fact at Ramstein Air Force Base those individuals who survived the attack as they came out.
And so that information, interviews confirming what they would have heard from the reports on the ground as it was unfolding were confirmed very early on. And frankly, we still don't know why is it that that information was what was communicated through Ambassador Susan Rice at the U.N., who went out the following Sunday and suggested that this was the result of a protest.
Did Rice “go out the following Sunday and suggest that this was the result of a protest?” That’s a very lazy paraphrase—lazy, or politically crafted.
Did Rice say or suggest that the violent attack “was the result of a protest?” For about the ten thousandth time, this is what she actually said on ABC’s This Week:
RICE (9/16/12): Well, Jake, first of all, it's important to know that there's an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.Did Rice say or suggest that the violent attack “was the result of a protest?” Not really, no. She said a group of extremists with heavy weapons came to the scene of a demonstration and “hijacked” what was occurring.
But our current best assessment based on the information that we have at present is that, in fact, what this began as was a spontaneous, not a premeditated, response to what happened transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.
We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people, came to the embassy to—or to the consulate rather—to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then, as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that, as you know, in the wake of the revolution in Libya, are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.
We'll wait to see exactly what the investigation finally confirms, but that's the best information we have at present.
It now seems there was no demonstration before those heavily armed extremists arrived. But the administration has long since abandoned that part of its story—the part of the story which was always less consequential.
(Duh. Presumably, it was always the heavily armed extremists who conducted the killings, not the alleged demonstrators.)
By way of contrast, Townsend continues to tell her story in the way Rice-hunters prefer. Townsend makes it sound like Rice told a highly unlikely tale, in which a simple protest somehow spun into deadly violence.
That simply isn’t a fair account of what Rice actually said. But Townsend keeps telling the story that way, and Cooper just keeps letting her.
(To his credit, he furrows his brow, letting us know that he cares.)
Cooper shouldn’t let this slippery paraphasing continue. But in fairness, he has to do his daytime show every day. He does that so he can get even richer and become even more famous.
(At the web site, Cooper smiles, letting us know that he's happy and that you can be happy too.)
Those daytime shows are important. On Tuesday, Cooper did his usual “True Crime Tuesdays” program. Yesterday, he conducted an “Anderson Cooper Investigation” into “a new designer drug every parent should know about.”
So maybe Gloria’s best baby boy hasn’t found enough time in his busy schedule to review what Ambassador Rice really said—or to think about the most faithful way to paraphrase her words for his viewers.
The attempt to turn this into a scandal will continue right through Election Day. There’s no sign that Cooper plans to stop—or that he plans to perform his job in a faithful, intelligent manner.
Tomorrow: When Glenn Kessler went to Benghazi