Salon explains What Rice Said: The endless attacks on Susan Rice have turned into a graduate course in the (non) science of paraphrase.
What did Susan Rice actually say when she went on those Sunday programs? At Salon, Alex Seitz-Wald has now offered this account.
We’d say this account is not strong:
SEITZ-WALD (11/28/12): Today, for the second straight day, President Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, whom he may nominate to be secretary of state, met with recalcitrant Republican senators on Capitol Hill to try to assuage them. And today, for the second straight day, the Republican senators immediately found reporters and informed the world that they were not satisfied. Today it was Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Bob Corker. Yesterday it was Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham, along with the ringleader of the opposition, Sen. John McCain. The senators say that Rice misled the American people when she went on Sunday morning political talk shows after the September 11 Benghazi attack and, citing talking points provided to her by the intelligence community that later proved to be false, said the attack grew out of a protest against an anti-Islam film.Did Ambassador Rice say the attack grew out of a protest against that film? We’d have to say this:
When Rice appeared on those Sunday shows, she outlined a two-part chronology. Here’s what she said occurred:
“Initially,” Rice said, a spontaneous protest occurred at the consulate in reaction to the video.
“Then,” Rice said, a second event occurred. “Extremists” armed with “heavy weapons” arrived at the consulate and “hijacked” events. In Rice’s telling, this is when the deadly attack occurred.
That’s the way Rice told the story. In that account, does the deadly attack “grow out of the protest?”
We would have to say no, not really—unless you’re determined to tell this story the way Saint John McCain does. As told by McCain, Rice’s story is essentially silly. A group of protestors are holding a demonstration and all of a sudden, out of the blue, a crazy attack with heavy weapons inexplicably breaks out.
That’s the way McCain tells the story—but that isn’t the way Rice told it. In Rice’s telling, a group of extremists arrived on the scene and “hijacked” ongoing events. She explained why the demonstrators were there; they were protesting the film. But she never explained what motivated the killers—the extremists who arrived on the scene with those heavy weapons.
McCain has told this tale a certain way to make Rice’s story sound silly. Today, an increasingly hapless liberal rag told the story exactly the way Saint McCain wants them to tell it.
And yes, it does make a difference. That's why McCain tells it that way!
Can someone take the children aside and help them straighten their heads? In Rice’s telling, “extremists” armed with “heavy weapons” arrived on the scene and “hijacked” ongoing events. She didn’t say why these extremists did that. She didn’t say who they were or who they weren’t. But they didn’t seem to be the same people who were staging the demonstration.
(When she was asked by Bob Schieffer, she said these extremists might have been “al Qaeda itself.”)
Note to Alex Seitz-Wald: Just because Andrea Mitchell tells it that way, that doesn’t mean you have to.
Further note to our hapless children:
You don’t have to tell this the way McCain does. You can read the transcripts for yourselves and explain What Rice Actually Said.
Yes, we know—that would be hard work! But it actually does make a difference:
McCain is telling the story that way because it makes Susan Rice look dumb. How the freak do you think you look when you ape the pathetic Saint Johnny?