Part 3—Huckabee, O’Reilly and Williams, behaving extremely badly: How horribly has Fox News behaved with respect to the latest Benghazi flap?
Consider an especially horrible moment from Sunday night’s Huckabee program.
The affable huckster hosting the program welcomed a very special guest. She was the mother of the late Sean Smith, one of the four Americans who died at Benghazi.
The late Sean Smith was a 34-year-old foreign service officer. Below, you see what happened when Huckabee spoke with his mother, Pat Smith—on Mother’s Day, no less.
Mrs. Smith had been in attendance at Wednesday’s congressional hearing. Rubbing his hands like a funeral director, a vile man asked how it went:
HUCKABEE (5/12/13): Sean Smith’s mother, Pat, was at the hearings. This weekend is the first Mother’s Day that she won’t have Sean to talk to.You can watch the tape of this interview at the Fox News Channel site. The tape appears under this heading:
And she joins me now. Pat, I appreciate so much your being here on what I know is a very, very tough weekend for you
Pat, you were at the hearings. Did you hear anything that brought closure or that gave you a new level of comfort regarding the death of your son?
SMITH: Absolutely not. I’m still waiting for answers to just about everything. I do want to say one thing though. I want to wish Hillary a happy Mother’s Day. She’s got her child. I don’t have mine because of her.
“Pat Smith has Mother's Day message for Hillary Clinton.”
Truly, that’s ugly stuff. It’s hard to know which was worse: The disgraceful way Huckabee toyed with Pat Smith’s emotions this night? Or the way Fox News has used this interview to build hatred of Hillary Clinton.
But yes, Fox News has been toying with Mrs. Smith—and with its millions of viewers. For the background to Huckabee’s interview, consider what happened when Mrs. Smith was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly last Thursday night, three days before her appearance with Huckabee.
On this occasion, O’Reilly played tape from President Obama’s eulogy for Sean Smith from last September 14. He then spoke with Mrs. Smith, who complained about something she was told by several people that day.
O’Reilly cued her complaint. After she responded, he refused to tell her, or his five million viewers, the most basic facts of this case:
O'REILLY (5/9/13): Did Hillary Clinton say anything to you? Did President Obama? Did they—did they say anything to you on that day?In a more moral, more rational nation, Fox News would be getting scalded for the way they’ve toyed with Pat Smith. Here’s why:
SMITH: Oh, yes. They all told me about the reason that this happened was the video. Every one of them told me that.
O'REILLY: They actually told you that it was the video? Both Secretary Clinton and the President told you it was the videotape?
SMITH: Yes, they actually did and Susan Rice, also.
O'REILLY: Face to face?
SMITH: Nose to nose. I was with—they were hugging me.
O'REILLY: And that was days after the attack, correct?
SMITH: Well, whenever it was. It was at the ceremony.
O'REILLY: September 14th, three days after the attack.
O'REILLY: Well that's disturbing. Do you believe there is some kind of conspiracy to cover-up thing going on here or you just don't know?
SMITH: I don't know. I don't know what the reason is. I have no idea of the reason.
As you’ll see if you watch the Huckabee tape, Mrs. Smith is not a sophisticated person. She says as much in her interview with her disgraceful host.
Like most people, Mrs. Smith isn’t in a position to rummage through news accounts of what happened in the first few days after Benghazi. Almost surely, she doesn’t know what Huckabee must have known on Sunday night.
There’s no way to know exactly what Mrs. Smith was told on September 14, just three days after her son was killed. But in her interview with O’Reilly, she said that Hillary Clinton, Obama and Rice “all told me about the reason that this happened was the video. Every one of them told me that.”
There’s no transcript or tape of what those people may have said that day. But as every news bureau knows by now, the CIA was saying these things as of September 14:
ORIGINAL CIA TALKING POINTS (9/14/12): 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.Why was that video being discussed on September 14, and later that weekend? Duh. In its original talking points, the CIA said it believed the attacks in Benghazi “were spontaneously inspired by the protests” in Cairo—and the protests in Cairo were protests against that now-infamous video!
Duh! It’s obvious why people may have been citing that video as of September 14. Unless you watch the Fox News Channel, where disgraceful people like Huckabee and O’Reilly keep refusing to give their channel's viewers even the most basic facts.
On Sunday night, Huckabee toyed with Mrs. Smith—and he failed to say why that video might have been mentioned that day. And then, sure enough! One night later, O’Reilly made matters worse.
At the start of Monday night’s program, O’Reilly raised a question to which every newsperson now knew the answer. His question concerned Susan Rice's comments about that famous video:
O'REILLY (5/13/13): The President believes that he and his administration did nothing wrong by telling the world that an anti-Islamic video might have caused the terror attack in Benghazi. But there was at the time strong evidence the video had nothing to do with the attack. The White House, the State Department, both knew that.In fact, Rice didn’t say, on those Sunday shows, “that an anti-Islamic video might have caused the terror attack in Benghazi.” That said, she did refer to the video—and as of last Friday, every news bureau in the country knew why she would have done that.
So who exactly told Ambassador Rice to deflect the real evidence by raising the video? Who exactly did that? Americans can differ about the importance of these stories. And the liberal press certainly has been reluctant to cover Benghazi. But now that seems to be changing.
O’Reilly’s staffers knew the answer to the question with which he opened his broadcast. “Who exactly told Ambassador Rice” about the role played by the video? Duh! The CIA was the source of that general claim—the claim that the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous reaction to the protest in Cairo.
O’Reilly should have known that fact. Surely, his staffers did. But he kept that fact from his five million viewers as he opened Monday’s program. Instead, he quoted a tired old man who really should stop talking about the news.
Below, you see was O’Reilly’s fuller opening, in which he leaned on a bungling statement by a tired old multimillionaire who ought to be muzzled right now:
O'REILLY (5/13/13): So who exactly told Ambassador Rice to deflect the real evidence by raising the video? Who exactly did that? Americans can differ about the importance of these stories. And the liberal press certainly has been reluctant to cover Benghazi. But now that seems to be changing.O’Reilly played tape of the gruesome Tom Brokaw, speaking on Monday’s Morning Joe. O’Reilly used Brokaw’s hapless clip to keep misleading Fox viewers.
BROKAW (videotape): You cannot explain away Susan Rice's performance on those Sunday talk shows in which she said it was not a terrorist attack, it grew out of a domestic demonstration of some kind. She completely underplayed it and rewrote the script with the help of someone—I think we deserve to know who that is.
O'REILLY: Well, thank you Tom Brokaw. Of course we deserve to know who that is if we want an honest federal government.
In our next post, we will give you a fuller transcript of Brokaw's statement that day. But let’s be clear on two points:
First, Rice didn’t say, on those Sunday shows, that Benghazi “was not a terrorist attack.” She said the attack had been staged by “extremists with heavy weapons” who arrived at the scene and “hijacked events.” When Bob Schieffer sought a more specific assessment, this is how she replied:
SCHIEFFER (9/16/12): Do you agree or disagree with [the Libyan president] that al Qaeda had some part in this?Which part of “it may have been al Qaeda itself” doesn’t Tom Brokaw understand? Which part constitutes a claim that this “was not a terrorist attack?
RICE: Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean, I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself, I think is one of the things we`ll have to determine.
No, Tom: Susan Rice didn’t say that this was not a terrorist attack. And as a second obvious point, no one had to “rewrite the script” about the role allegedly played by that domestic demonstration. That came straight from the original talking points, straight from the CIA.
Brokaw was helpless that morning, as always. That said, let’s return to our original question, involving the way Fox News toyed with Sean Smith’s mother and with its millions of viewers:
By Sunday and Monday nights, everyone knew why Susan Rice had referred to that video. Everyone knew what the CIA had been saying as of September 14-16—that the attack in Benghazi was a response to the Cairo protest against that video.
Everyone knew that this assessment had come straight from the CIA—not from the State Department, not from Rice herself.
But Bill O’Reilly was playing it dumb as he opened Monday night’s program. And now, disaster! O’Reilly threw to Juan Williams, a reliably hapless presence who is paid extremely good money to say things like this on Fox while being a black liberal:
O'REILLY (5/13/13): So you believe there wasn't any misleading of anything in the Benghazi thing?Stumbling around in his usual way, the hapless Williams failed to explain what the original CIA talking-points said as of September 14. Soon, O’Reilly threw to Mary Katharine Ham, a reliable hack from the pseudo-right who is frequently paired with Williams:
WILLIAMS: Well, I think that what happened before Benghazi, during Benghazi—nobody has brought any of those facts into dispute. What we're talking about is this memo afterwards which is essentially a turf war between State and the Pentagon as to what's in this document. Do we reveal sources? Do we tell people?
And so that's what you're focused on and you're saying you've got a scandal? I don't see a scandal there. I see a turf war, bureaucrats going crazy.
O'REILLY: Well, Tom Brokaw is demanding— Tom Brokaw is probably left-wing of you. He is to the left of you.
O'REILLY: He said, “Hey, you've got to tell me who ordered Rice to go out there and mislead the world.” Are you with Tom on that? Are you demanding that?
WILLIAMS: No. Hold on. Hold on.
O'REILLY: You are not?
WILLIAMS: I'm just telling you that Jim Clapper, the director of national intelligence, the director of the counterterrorism people here in Washington. You know, General Petraeus. You know, Leon Panetta, I could go on. Mike Mullen, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, they have all said the same thing. And they said this before the election. So you can't say it's about politics.
O'REILLY: They all haven't said the same thing, Juan.
WILLIAMS: They all said before the election this was a terror attack.
O'REILLY: Go ahead, Mary Katharine.We Irish! Reliably, Ham used the Brokaw clip to advance the idea that no one knew where that stupid shit about the demonstration and the video came from. Fox viewers got played once again.
HAM: Yes, I mean—a couple things. First of all, it's not just about the talking points. The fact is that—or about Susan Rice. The fact is that Obama and Hillary were pushing the video line weeks later to the U.N., at the funerals, and so I think that's part of the discussion as well. And it's not just myself or Bill O'Reilly who has questions about this. As he mentioned, Tom Brokaw— Unless the entire White House press corps leans very far right as of Friday without my knowledge, then there are really legitimate questions here that they are asking about and they were surprised that Obama stuck to the line today that said no, nothing ever changes.
By Monday evening, everyone knew what the CIA’s original talking points said. Everyone except O’Reilly’s five million viewers. They were being kept in the dark about the source of the things Rice said. They were told that a mystery still exists, that the deeply concerned Mr. Bill was trying to get real answers.
This was all false, a plain deception. We hope Juan’s money spends good.
On September 14, did someone say something to Mrs. Smith about that anti-Muslim video? If so, it’s obvious why they might have. As of that day, the CIA was saying that the Benghazi attack was a response to the protest in Cairo—and the protest in Cairo, like so many others around the world, had been a protest against that infamous video.
That said, Pat Smith has a Mother's Day message for Hillary Clinton! That is the plea for hatred proudly displayed at Huckabee’s site. Huckabee toyed with Pat Smith Sunday night. He chose not to explain the basic facts about this case.
The next night, O’Reilly kept hiding the basic facts. Millions of viewers kept getting deceived in the process.
It ought to be news when major players deceive millions of voters this way. Tomorrow, we’ll show you what happens in your country when Fox News behaves this way.
Tomorrow: The silence of the liberal world's lambs in the face of this rolling deception