IN RE AMBASSADOR RICE: Weigel gets it right!


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."

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."
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.

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.


  1. If Wiegel is making an overstatement, then how did he basically get it right? He didn't get it any more right than people reading other plausible meanings into Rice's statement.

    I don't have a problem with Rice's statements on some TV shows. But I also don't see why Howler treats her as Saint Susan and not just like any other ambitious political climber. Just because partisan GOP attacks on her are hypocritical doesn't mean she is actually doing a wonderful job or speaking forthrightly to the American people herself.

    Why in all these posts on Rice can't the Howler mention Rwanda or why Mr Somerby is so passionate in his defense of Rice's career?

    1. "treats her as Saint Susan "

      "doesn't mean she is actually doing a wonderful job"

      "defense of Rice's career"

      Wow! So that's how you welcome us to your world made of straw!

      None of what you're writing here is relevant or fact-based.

      Where exactly are you finding the implication that Rice is "Sainted" by Somerby? That Rice is doing a "wonderful" job? Or that her entire career is being defended?


      Got it.

      You are just rankled that in pointing out the unending, mass mainstream media lying about Rice's statements regarding Benghazi, Somerby doesn't ALSO discuss what *you* think is really important about Benghazi. That's really no one's problem but your own.

    2. If what Susan Rice said (or rather didn't say) is taken out of the picture, then the whole Benghazi cover-up conspiracy theory no longer has any legs, and must fly right out the window. That's why McCain and others must keep Susan Rice as a key actor in their crazy picture at all costs. There's too much to lose. Benghazi is Obama's 9/11. It's the thing the Democratic president fucked up that makes Bush's fuckup...well... That's. Hoh. Kay. (cue Tom Friedman).

    3. Anonymous,

      Please direct me to the Howler's first critical words about Saint Susan... And when you airbrush "genocide" out of Rice's career, you are making a defense. Not a legitimate defense, but you are defending nevertheless.

      One of the best features of the Howler is its position against tribal politics and for a more rational approach to public debate. The Howler says Rice's statements about Benghazi contained "very few hard and fast claims." I don't think that's a big plus. While the GOP may have their own reasons for spotlighting Rice's statements, it's Pres Obama that may be appointing her Sec'y of State, so concern about her forthrightness is not just obsessing over a TV interview during a past campaign.

    4. tinears, you haven't shown anything interesting about Rice w/r/t Benghazi. That's beyond dispute.

      You'd prefer to talk about Rwanda. That's fine, but irrelevant to your misrepresentations.

      When called on them, you ask essentially "well, how has the Howler criticized Rice?"

      But since no one is making any such claim, no evidence is required.

      On the other hand, you were making stupidly false assertions about what Somerby has actually done. You have no evidence for any of them.

      So you produce your last post, best interpreted as bitter tears.

      Trying to equate discussion of press misdeeds in the Benghazi case and affirmative defense of other cases, is the weakest, palest "argument" ever to see daylight. Pathetic.

      Get back to the basement, sad little vampire. You are wasting away.

    5. Quaker in a BasementNovember 15, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      You're missing the point entirely. Somerby's initial post--like almost every post--is about the ineptitude of high-paid media figures. In this case, his post is about groaning errors made in reporting what Ms. Rice said, not about Ms. Rice herself or her previous career.

  2. Where is there even a discussion of Rice's "career"??? It's entirely irrelevant to this topic.
    Bob was merely arguing how one morning's TV appearances and her statements have been twisted and cherry-picked to fit a certain narrative. I don't see any discussion of Susan Rice's career, plus or minus.

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