On CNN, a remarkable statement: Last evening, CNN’s Anderson Cooper program opened with a 20-minute segment on Benghazi.
There were no commercial breaks. Tape of the segment should go straight to the Smithsonian, where it could be used in the future to educate American children:
School kids could study a textbook case of cherry-picked quotations. They could study the ways our news orgs disappear basic facts in service to preplanned attacks.
We’ll get to those points a bit later today. For now, let’s examine a remarkable statement by Paul Begala near the end of this long, gruesome segment.
After fifteen minutes of disinformation, guest host John King called in his political panel. Bush flack Ari Fleischer was balanced by Begala—or at least, so it appeared.
In this format, CNN viewers get the idea that they’re hearing “both sides of the story.” But as soon as Begala opened his trap, he made an astonishing statement:
KING (10/19/12): So Paul, the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a big flash point in the last debate. I know you think it's time for these guys to move on, Afghanistan, for example. But given the expanded congressional investigations, a lot of questions about the administration's handling, how much Benghazi do you think will be in the next debate?So wonderfully fair-and-balanced! But that highlighted statement is simply astounding. In the future, we hope school children will get to study it too.
BEGALA: I do think, John, it's a certainty. It is, I will say, an important issue to investigate. The administration's investigating, Congress is investigating. That's good. That's professionals doing their job. They happen to be professional politicians, too, but that is the job of the Congress of the United States and also the Pickering investigation that the administration has sponsored.
The hard thing for both of these guys is I think they made important mistakes on this issue. The administration clearly did not have all the facts when they started saying that they had all the facts, and so the initial stories they say were overtaken by events. That's a problem.
Begala didn’t mention Susan Rice by name, but she had been thoroughly fragged by this point (see upcoming posts). One of King’s unimpressive guests had even suggested the possibility that “she should lose her job.”
To state the obvious, Rice has been the central target in this month-long right-wing attack. She was also the central target in last night’s remarkable segment.
Did Ambassador Rice “say that they had all the facts” when she appeared on the Sunday programs on September 16? Obviously, no, she did not; the opposite is true. Begala’s instant statement thus becomes quite astounding.
Via the miracle of edited tape, King had already cherry-picked one of Rice’s statements that day, giving a grossly misleading impression of what she actually said. But did she “say they had all the facts” about the attack on the consulate?
Please. Here she is on Face the Nation:
RICE (9/16/12): Well, Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present.Does it sound like Rice was saying “they had all the facts?” Here she was on Meet the Press that same morning:
First of all, very importantly...there is an investigation that the United States government will launch, led by the FBI, that has begun—
SCHIEFFER: But they are not there yet.
RICE: They are not on the ground yet but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.
But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is, as of the present, is...
RICE (9/16/12): Let me tell you, you the best information we have at present. First of all, there’s an FBI investigation which is ongoing. And we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired. But putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was...Does it sound like Ambassador Rice was claiming to have all the facts?
But then, who did say they had all the facts? Begala forgot to tell us. But here is President Obama himself in a public forum four days later:
QUESTION (9/20/12): We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?Does it sound like Obama was claiming that he had all the facts?
OBAMA: Well, we're still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don't want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests–
QUESTION: Al Qaeda?
OBAMA: Well, we don't know yet.
Whatever else they got right or wrong, administration officials constantly stressed that they didn’t have all the facts. But so what? Begala, shot out of guns, quickly told viewers the opposite.
On the bright side, Paul Begala is paid good swag for his very soft CNN gig. But if last night represents the best he can do, he should probably take his tired old game back to Texas.
When King drags out his political team, CNN viewers get the impression that they are hearing “both sides of the story.” Last night, what did they hear from King’s fiery Democrat?
As soon as Begala opened his mouth, they heard even more disinformation! They heard even more support for the GOP’s ugly attacks.
Why did Begala make such a strange statement? We have no idea. But history is clear on one point, as Begala understands:
When these right-wing attacks gain purchase, everyone rushes to join the assault. Everybody tilts what he says to help the guild finish the job.
Begala’s statement was astounding—and it came near the end of a truly remarkable segment. But before we look at what King said and did, let’s review some new information which surfaced yesterday—new information you weren’t offered in this remarkable segment.
New information appeared yesterday. Though not if you watched CNN.
Our next post: New information