What makes this so hard: Granted, he was late to the scene of the crime.
But yesterday, Slate’s Dave Weigel somehow managed to make accurate statements about Ambassador Rice. What makes this so hard?
Let’s examine what Weigel managed to do:
First, he quoted a claim by Marco Rubio. After that, he correctly said that Rubio’s claim is inaccurate:
WEIGEL (11/14/12): "We have a process for nominations, and we want to give her a full hearing," said Sen. Marco Rubio yesterday when asked about Rice. "I'm concerned with the fact she went on Sunday shows and said this was the product of a spontaneous uprising and not a terrorist attack. Obviously she based those comments on directives or information that she had, and it's important to know where those directives came from and what that information was."Did Rice go on the Sunday shows and say the Benghazi attack was the product of a spontaneous uprising and not a terrorist attack? Well actually, no—she didn’t.
Rubio's comments were interesting because this popular version of the "Rice comments" isn't true. On those Sunday shows, she said that extremists used a protest as a cover for their planned attack, not that the attack happened off the cuff. The key figure in spreading this lie about Rice was ... John McCain, who said that same Sunday that "most people don't bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to demonstrations."
She wasn’t asked, and didn’t say, whether this was a terrorist attack—although she did say that the violence started when “extremists” armed with “heavy weapons” arrived at the consulate and “hijacked” ongoing events.
(She repeatedly stressed that she was giving preliminary assessments.)
Beyond that, she wasn’t asked, and didn’t say, whether the attack was the product of a spontaneous uprising. This "popular version" of what Rice said came from extremist elements within the Republican Party.
As Weigel said, this "popular version" of Rice's remarks simply isn't accurate.
How did this inaccurate account get to be so popular? As is so often the case, this bogus account quickly caught on with the timorous folk who pose as our mainstream press corps.
They bowed to conservative fury and power, as they have so often done in the past. Last night, we saw how far the cherry-picking has proceeded as mainstream broadcasters try to keep faith with this fake GOP tale.
Did Susan Rice go on the Sunday shows and say this was the product of a spontaneous uprising and not a terrorist attack? Somehow, Dave Weigel was able to say that this is a bogus account of what Rice said on those programs.
On MSNBC, cowardly pretenders avoided these slanderous attacks on Rice for the past two months.
Basically, Weigel got it right. That said, we will offer two criticisms of what Weigel himself said:
When Rice appeared on those Sunday shows, did she “say that extremists used a protest as a cover for their planned attack?” We’d call that an overstatement too.
Rice made very few hard and fast claims that day—but the human mind loves to tell complete stories. Even as he rejected Rubio’s account, we would say that Weigel created a small overstatement himself.
Second: Is John McCain telling a “lie?” We don’t know why the children are so in love with that exciting word, which is so often unhelpful.
That said, Weigel basically got it right when he rejected Rubio’s statement. On the One True Liberal Channel, your TV stars have refused to perform this service for the past two months.
What makes this conduct so hard: What makes this conduct so hard? Aside from the apparent cowardice, here’s one more obvious possibility:
Your favorite stars aren’t smart enough to determine what Rice really said.