BULLROAR OVER BENGHAZI: Matthews and Lawrence and Sharpton all fail!

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2013

Part 4—Some things never change: An especially ridiculous moment occurred on Monday evening’s Hardball.

Chris Matthews had been condemned to discuss Benghazi with Rep. Mike Turner, an utterly hapless Republican congressman from the state of Ohio.

Turner has served in the Congress ten years, but his skills, and his knowledge of Benghazi, seem extremely limited. Again and again and again and again, he repeated a limited mantra:

The White House deceived the public about Benghazi through its agent, Susan Rice!

Turner said it again and again and again. But in his opening statement to Matthews, he made an especially ridiculous comment:
TURNER (5/13/13): What we learned in the past week with the congressional hearings is that the narrative that was coming out of the administration from these talking points has no basis in fact. It is, in fact, a fiction. Mr. Hicks, who testified before us, said that Susan Rice hadn’t even spoken to him, the lead diplomat on the ground, after the ambassador was killed.

And, you know, he clearly said that there was no demonstration, that this was a terrorist attack. They knew it was a terrorist attack. They knew who had perpetrated the terrorist attack. They’ve already claimed credit. And yet the White House and the administration chose to write a narrative that was based on fiction.
In fact, Ambassador Stevens didn’t say “that there was no demonstration, that this was a terrorist attack.” Instantly, Turner was misstating basic facts, though Matthews showed no sign of knowing.

That said, the truly ridiculous part of that statement is the part we’ve highlighted: Susan Rice didn’t speak to Gregory Hicks before she went on TV!

The sheer stupidity of that complaint would be hard to surpass. And yet, that complaint has been common in the last week as Benghazi returned center stage. According to Turner, Rice should have conducted her own investigation before she did those Sunday shows—and she certainly should have interviewed the brilliant, inerrant Hicks!

This is an utterly stupid notion. But Matthews showed no sign of knowing that—that, or anything else.

Turner behaved like a cipher all through this pitiful interview. He repeated a narrow set of claims again and again and again. To watch a really bad TV performance, punish yourself—just click here.

And yet, if you watch that woeful segment, you’ll see a second horrendous performance. You will see the performance by Matthews, who kept agreeing with Turner: Susan Rice misled the public on those Sunday programs!

Turner was utterly clueless this day. If anything, Matthews was worse. Again and again, he agreed with Turner’s basic claim. Here you see one gruesome example, ending with a confession:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you another question again. The same question again. I’ve asked you three times. What did the president know, to your knowledge, in terms of having her say what she said on Meet the Press that Sunday? I watched it. You watched it. Did the president have a role in that or not?

TURNER: I think he has a role today. And that is, as you and I both have said, we know what she said is not true. And the administration insists—

MATTHEWS: I agree with that. The fifth time you’re saying it.

TURNER: —that it wasn`t true.

MATTHEWS: OK. So you don’t know any more than I do.
“You don’t know any more than I do!” Have truer words ever been spoken?

All through his ludicrous session with Turner, Matthews kept agreeing with his Republican guest—what Susan Rice said that day wasn’t true. Here we see another exchange in which Matthews threw Rice down the stairs:
TURNER: The administration official goes on national television and says a fiction—well, that’s what obviously we’re trying to get down to. Now, the president says he has released e-mails only because the Congress asked. He’s not stepped forward and said, “Excuse me, I’ve now learned that a lead administration official on my behalf told a fiction to the nation.” That’s what he should be focusing on. And that’s what we`re trying to find out—

MATTHEWS: Fair enough. In the course of your investigations, Mr. Turner, have you come up with any e-mail that suggests the president was involved?
Ambassador Rice “told a fiction to the nation,” Turner blustered. “Fair enough,” Matthews replied.

All through this gruesome segment, Matthews kept throwing Rice down the stairs as he tried to establish a limited claim: Susan Rice told a fiction, but Obama didn’t tell her to say it! In the course of advancing this narrow defense, Matthews kept throwing Rice under a very large bus—and he kept displaying the full-blown ignorance that has long been his trademark on Hardball.

Did Matthews know any facts this day? Consider this sad exchange from early in this sad segment:
MATTHEWS: Who told Susan Rice to say what she said that day? Was that the president, personally, deputizing her to say it was a spontaneous demonstration that evolved into a terrorist attack of some form? What do you think did it? Was it the president or one of his people? What do you know?

TURNER: Well, what we know is that Susan Rice—

MATTHEWS: No, do you know if the president was involved? Just tell me.

TURNER: —created this fiction. And Susan Rice went on national television and made statements that had no basis in truth.
On several occasions, Matthews asked a form of this question: “Who told Susan Rice to say it was a spontaneous demonstration that evolved into a terrorist attack of some form?”

Matthews showed no sign of knowing that this question had been definitively answered four days before. But then, what else is new?

Who told Rice to cite that spontaneous demonstration? Matthews kept challenging Turner to prove that Obama told her to say it. He showed no sign of knowing what was now clear: That claim came straight from the CIA, in its first proposed talking points.

Four days earlier, ABC News had released twelve versions of the talking points from which Rice worked on those Sunday programs. In the very first paragraph of its first proposed version, the CIA had said this: “We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.”

That’s where Susan Rice got the claim about the spontaneous demonstration. Four days after this fact became clear, Chris Matthews—he’s paid $5 million per year—showed no sign of knowing.

Matthews kept agreeing that Rice had grossly misled the public. He simply tried to establish the fact that Obama didn’t tell her to do it. He showed no sign of knowing the most basic facts. As always, he was feckless, malfeasant—grotesquely unprepared.

In any other walk of life, a person who fails so badly and so carelessly will be quickly fired. But Matthews lives within two worlds from which it’s quite hard to get fired.

First, he’s a multimillionaire star of America’s corporate “press corps.” You can’t get fired from this group for being wrong. (On occasion, you will get fired if you dare to be right.)

Beyond that, Matthews is now a star of the corporate pseudo-liberal world, a world which has spent the past twenty years behaving in this manner.

That’s right, children! The liberal world has spent the past twenty years refusing to defend its own. In this case, Rice has been thrown down the stairs by a wide range of corporate luminaries—by Matthews, by Rachel, by Lawrence, by Al, by the younger Chris.

It has always been clear that Rice did nothing wrong when she appeared on those Sunday shows on September 16. (In two separate statements to Turner, Matthews seemed to suggest that she had done Meet the Press alone. Given his track record, it’s entirely possible that he was really that ignorant.) But last fall, as the war against Rice unfolded, the children on The One True Channel all ran off and hid.

For two solid months, as Rice was battered, her name quite literally wasn’t mentioned on The One True Liberal Channel! This Monday night, the steady malfeasance of this channel’s hosts only continued.

Matthews seemed completely ignorant of the most basic facts of the case. When Lawrence tried to discuss the case, he was equally worthless.

Lawrence spoke with the equally clueless Nia-Malika Henderson. For unknown reasons, he kept referring to the now-famous anti-Muslim video as “the movie:”
O’DONNELL (5/13/13): You know, the so-called talking points issue of this memo about what it was really about, I for one thought the talking points were ridiculous when I heard them.

HENDERSON: Yeah.

O’DONNELL: I never believed the movie was the provocation for this. I never allowed it—I never said on this show the movie did this.

HENDERSON: Right.

O’DONNELL: And for the first several days, everybody on all of the shows, Fox shows were saying it is the movie, it is the movie. The movie thing never made sense to me.

So you can talk about the talking points, and that does become just, “OK, these are the people that put it together, why did they put it together?” That doesn`t seem to be worthy of this much investigation but fine, let them have it.
Like Chris, Lawrence seemed to have no idea what he was talking about. No one on Fox ever said that that attack in Benghazi was about “the movie.” Rice’s statements about the video were mischaracterized on Fox, then ridiculed, from the first day forward.

Like Chris, Lawrence failed to explain why Rice had mentioned the video on those Sunday programs. His analysis: When Fox screams and yells about the talking points, we should “let them have it!”

We won’t even tell you how useless, how ridiculous, Al Sharpton was on this point Monday night. Suffice to say that no one on The One True Channel ever explained what the world had learned four days before:

No one explained that Rice had described a spontaneous protest in reaction to Cairo because that’s what the CIA said it believed. No one bothered defending Rice. In the high-pay career liberal world, such things simply aren’t done.

Tomorrow, we will ask you why this has gone on so long—and why liberals are prepared to accept this. We’ll also briefly review the performances of Rachel, Melissa and Chris the younger.

But make no mistake: It has been like this for twenty years! Bogus attacks emerge from the right; liberal journalists run off and hide.

“Let them have it,” our corporate stars say. “Fair enough,” another will cry. Rising young players like Nia-Malika agree with every word.

George Bush got to the White House this way. Some things never change.

Take the Matthews-Turner Challenge: Go ahead! Knowing the things you do, watch that gruesome segment from Hardball.

Matthews is paid $5 million per year. But go ahead—watch! We dare you.

One more shining moment: In a tribute to Rodney King, we all got along on Monday night. We all agreed that Susan Rice deceived the American people!

In our original post, we should have included this gruesome moment, in which Matthews threw Rice down the stairs:
TURNER (5/13/13): Chris, you at least agree with me that what Susan Rice said was a fiction. Do we agree there? It's a fiction.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I've agreed with you five times and I continue to ask you the simple question, what role did the president play here? What role did he play, sir?
Can't we all get along? For one brief shining moment, on Monday evening we did!

For twenty years, the game has been played this way. We liberals just sit there and take it.

Does anyone know why this is?

32 comments:

  1. Why wouldn't the person acting as the administration chief spokesperson gather information from other personnel on the ground in Libya? The preparation for presenting this info to the public stretched over some days and, presumably, new info was coming from the FBI and CIA. So why is it stupid to get some input from the State Dept leadership on the scene?

    As TDH presents it, all you have to do is stick to CIA talking points and you're golden. Susan Rice was going to be the next Secretary of State; shouldn't we expect a bit more than that from her?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The simple reason is that intelligence reports from the scene need to be analyzed before any action is taken.

      Ambassadors act on analyzed information, not raw data.

      Analysts are in the INR, CIA, DIA, NSA, and military intelligence.

      Ideally, they analyze the raw information before any decisions are made to act.

      Susan Rice acted properly on analysis from the CIA.

      Delete
    2. Susan Rice was not acting as Ambassador to the UN when she went on all the talk shows. She was there to inform the public about recent events on behalf of the administration.

      Again, is the only qualification for Rice's job the ability to read the talking points? If there's more to it than that, then why would getting more info be a stupid idea?

      Delete
    3. It might be interesting to know where you get the idea that spokespersons "gather information on the ground," but it doesn't matter really. You're wrong about it.

      They are functionaries. Others ultimately tell them what to do, by protocol.

      No, we very much do not expect them to speak from their own research. What a disaster.

      gravymeister is 100% right. But you are a moving target, 11:10.

      What will be your next bullshit approach to this topic? We can hardly wait.

      Delete
    4. Like O'Donnell, my first exposure to Rice piqued suspicion for a number of reasons including the fact that she and the rest of the administration strenuously ignored the date of the attacks. She would be savvy enough to know what to emphasize and what to play down in her remarks regardless of where the information came from and even regardless of whether discussions were had with her instructing her to color her comments in a politically favorable way. Her intentions and would be hard to prove and if there were discussions they would likely be lied about, but her comments were strange the day she made them and only got stranger as more facts were eventually, reluctantly acknowledged.

      Delete
    5. Can anyone explain why any of this matters?

      Delete
    6. Anon 1156,

      Sorry to disappoint you, but I give up. Nothing will ever diminish the glow of the Susan Rice halo here at TDH.



      Delete
    7. "Can anyone explain why this matters?"

      Certainly.

      You can't manufacture a phony scandal without all this stuff. The GOPs learned in the 1990s that by amplifying this crap and mutating it into other pseudo-facts, it becomes extremely difficult to debunk - especially with our corporate ass-kissing press.

      Also, it gives people like Bob Somerby the opportunity, while saying "I told you so", to excoriate liberals for not doing enough to stanch the flow of bullshit.

      Delete
    8. Anon 1244 -
      "... I give up. Nothing will ever diminish the glow of Susan Rice [sic] halo here at TDH."

      That's your reason? How about that your giving up because your factually-baseless argument can only go so far before concession is the only next step.

      Delete
    9. More interesting than the details of this dispute -- which, after all, represents an insider spat between two dishonest brokers, Repubs and the Obama administration -- is Bob's insistence that liberals come to the defense Susan Rice and the Obama administration, and are shameful stooges for failing to do so.

      Of course, "real" liberals, the kind never quoted at TDH and who rarely appear in corporate media, despise both Susan Rice and Obama and are as indifferent to the course of this dispute as they were to White Water or the meaning of Al Gore's bald spot: it's pretty difficult to get excited over press conduct on issue like these, when the press is so negligent and duplicitous on far more important matters, the ones on which there's bipartisan consensus (like American empire and welfare for the rich).

      One waits in vain for the day when the TDH vilifies Matthews, Maddow, MSNBC, et al. for ignoring, say, the war crimes of the Obama administration. Or for failing to examine the conduct of a certain Al Gore, since 2000, which has made him as rich as Matt Romney. Or the $80 million or so Bill Clinton has collected from the financial services industry since leaving office, at the same time he's treated as an esteemed elder statesman by our Liberal Media and TDH?

      Bob would do well to reconsider what he wishes for: a true liberal media would smash all his idols and their bald spots. And would make quick work of Susan Rice.

      Delete
    10. I would bet he's paid to do this. He has no idea what he is talking about: a spokesperson doing her own investigation in order to second guess the organization with the official responsibility of investigating the matter? Give us a frickin' break. The right-wing is mastering this mutation art, and we are seeing it in action here. It will take people with a lot more clout to call it out for what it is. So far, they are all cowering before the onslaught. (Same thing for the perfectly proper process used by IRS agents to identify organizations that might be predominantly political and therefore not entitled to exemption.)

      Delete
    11. Anon 12:28:

      You think this is a scandal because someone "strenuously ignored" something, and "color[ed] her comments in a politically favorable way."

      You must be up to your neck in scandals, huh?

      Delete
    12. Anon 109, factually baseless?

      You seem to forget that the facts are not on your side. Rice's presentation was fundamentally inaccurate and she admitted as much after the election.

      What you're pursuing is a "hoocoodanode" argument where Rice is performing wonderfully because she is wrong in the correct way within her group--she will eventually get promoted for that. I have given up, not conceded. (You give up on teaching a cat arithmetic; you don't concede that 2+2=nap on the chair.)

      Delete
    13. urban legend,

      Since when did the CIA get the "official responsibility of investigating the matter?"

      Delete
    14. The FBI was investigating an occurrence at a CIA station. Seems as if the CIA may want a hand in the talking points about said occurrence, no?
      Rice admitted that subsequent analysis and investigation showed that the Benghazi attack did not arise from a demonstration caused by the video as had demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere that day.
      This is not, however, a Doctor Who episode where she got to visit the future, learn from the subsequent investigation and then appear on those Sunday shows armed with different information.
      The problem with all of the media stories is that those people know how talking points are derived but act oblivious when a more favored narrative appears.
      The various anonymous commenters here, though, seem utterly clueless about what should by now be a fairly obvious scenario.

      Delete
    15. Rice did not identify when or how the analysis changed. There is no reason to assume it was subsequent. The FBI made little progress or no progress in Libya prior to Rice's admission. There is no need to invoke time travel.

      Do the commenters here believe, as TDH seems to, that the CIA believed their own self-serving talking points at the start?

      Delete
    16. Quaker in a BasementMay 16, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      Rice did not identify when or how the analysis changed. There is no reason to assume it was subsequent.

      Well, except for the linear direction of time. By definition, the change couldn't have come before itself.

      Delete
    17. Props to Anon at 6:43pm for the epitome of Republican logic, the fact that Rice subsequently changed her own assessment proves that she knew all along that what she said on the shows was deliberately wrong.

      You simply cannot be that stupid and still be alive. It is a wonderment.

      Delete
  2. Hey, Bob. This may come as a shock to you, but the real bullroar about Benghazi isn't coming from MSNBC.

    And I note how you bolded the part of Matthews' reply while ignoring his $64,000 Question: "In the course of your investigations, Mr. Turner, have you come up with any e-mail that suggests the president was involved?"

    This is not to say that bullroar isn't coming out of MSNBC. But if you are truly interested in studying how American discourse is deteriorating, you should look around the TV dial just a wee bit more to find the source.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem is that everyone is arguing whether or not Susan Rice deliberately misled the public, and what role the President played in the early reports.

      No one is asking what Ambassador Stevens was doing in a poorly secured area.

      No one is asking how the CIA arrived at their preliminary report during their analysis of the information from the CIA outpost.

      That is Bob's point.

      Delete
    2. No one is asking what Ambassador Stevens was doing in a poorly secured area.

      [No one is asking why President Obama waged war on Libya with no Congressional approval, when Libya was no possible treat to America.]

      Delete
    3. "you should look around the TV dial just a wee bit more to find the source"

      You're being oblique, so we can only guess what you're thinking here, 11:33.

      But if you think Somerby's been giving Fox a pass on Benghazi, you haven't been paying attention.

      Delete
    4. ANON 11:50

      "[No one is asking why President Obama waged war on Libya with no Congressional approval, when Libya was no possible treat to America.]"

      Libya was a threat to our allies, so they claim.

      You have heard of NATO, I presume? Right or wrong, the language in the treaty leaves very little wiggle room.

      BTW, LOTS of people have been attacking Obama over Libya.

      Delete
    5. President Obama needed to get approval from Congress to go to war in Libya, simple as that. President Obama as usual, showed a disdain for the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973.

      Delete
    6. Congress can yell all it wants.
      Neither the Constitution nor the War Powers Act were in play here.
      Under the UN Charter and the NATO Treaty the action against Libya was not UNILATERAL; The President can engage in joint military action without Congressional approval.
      As of April 4, 2011 all authority for action against the Libyan government was turned over to NATO.
      The US, as a signatory, was obligated to assist its allies.
      Call it a fiction if you want, but it is a LEGAL fiction.

      Delete
  3. "For twenty years, the game has been played this way. We liberals just sit there and take it.

    Does anyone know why this is?"

    If it doesn't offer the opportunity to display moral superiority, we "liberals" just can't be bothered. If it was about gay marriage, or gave an opening for some race baiting, we'd be alllllll over it. I'm a little surprised Rice being black didn't cause at least some liberals to defend her on those grounds, which makes me wonder if getting Obama elected hasn't reduced the ardor "liberals" have for dragging race into every issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Speak for yourself, Bub. As has been pointed out a million times before, corporate media doesn't hire liberals. Blame corporate governance if you want, but not liberalism.

      The notion that actual liberals have a moral duty to run to the defense of the egregious Susan Rice, any more than they're obliged to run to defense of that fraud known as "Al Gore", of whose policies and finances Bob knows nothing, is simply preposterous. There are so many more pressing issues -- life and death issues. Since when is liberalism nothing but party politics?

      The current matter doesn't even count as a sideshow.

      Delete
    2. By that standard the "liberals" we see on TV are frauds? Fair enough. So then, what's so wrong about calling them out as such loud and clear? Recommended reading- Chris Hedges' The Death of the Liberal Class.

      Delete
  4. Have all the years of being hippie-punched made liberals incapable of fighting back against ignorant and unprincipled jackals? I would submit that ALL the mini-scandals this week (and yes, I include the IRS scandal) are weak tea once you hear the full story. If these had occurred in any Republican administration they would NEVER have arisen as worthy of national outrage. Where are the President's defenders? Instead we get lots of chin-stroking and chances for the smart set on MSNBC to show off how adult and even-handed they can be. The wimp brigade is now in full retreat.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Quaker in a BasementMay 16, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    Chris Matthews is not my fucking fault.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, but if you are a liberal he's your problem.

      Delete