BULLROAR OVER BENGHAZI: Toying with Sean Smith's mom!


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.

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.
You can watch the tape of this interview at the Fox News Channel site. The tape appears under this heading:

“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?

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.
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:

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.
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.

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?

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.
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?

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?

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.
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:
O'REILLY: Go ahead, Mary Katharine.

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.
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.

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


  1. "Brokaw was helpless that morning, as always."

    Bzzzzt! Wrong, Bob. Tom Brokaw is helpful, not helpless. The question, as always, is who's being helped.

    "We hope Juan’s money spends good."

    So, Bob, you do see what's going on with Juan Williams. Well, it's no different with Brokaw.

    Paid well to be helpful.

    1. Except you cannot give a coherent explanation how Brokaw was being helpful when what he was saying was flat-out false.

    2. Clue Hammer: Saying false things helps those who want to spread lies.

      You're welcome.

  2. Bob, I agree with your criticisms of this interview. However, do you remember the media fuss over Cindy Sheehan? For no valid reason, this mother of a fallen soldier was treated as a goddess who could say and do no wrong. Well, now the other side is playing the same game.

    The only difference is that Fox News is alone in deifying Mrs. Smith and her attacks on Dems. Virtually the entire media deified Cindy Sheehan and her attacks on Reps.

    1. Support for Cindy Sheehan had nothing to do with the fact that she was criticizing Republicans. It was about a duly-reviled war that cost her her son. It should have been a reviled war whether it was started by a Republican or a Democrat. Let's assume you don't remember, "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" That taunt of a liberal Democrat who had made historic accomplishments came from people who were the strongest supporters of those other milestones.

      Everything isn't about Democrats vs. Republicans.

  3. Funny, I don't remember Bill O'Reilly (or anyone else for that matter) treating Cindy Sheehan as a "goddess who could do no wrong." Things like that only take place in that junk yard between your ears, David. Some of us thought She might be afford a bit of dignity, as does this cruely exploited woman, but O'Reilly was not among these who did. But then he wanted to shut up everyone who was critical of the disaster of shock and awe.Huck has his own skeletons in the closet where his hatred of the Clintons has gotten him into big trouble before. It's pretty ugly stuff, but maybe we've had enough for one day.

    1. Yes, Greg. Fox News didn't treat Sheehan like a goddess, but just about every other news outlet did. The rare exception is why I wrote "Virtually the entire media deified Cindy Sheehan."

    2. I acknowledge your drift, David, but I'm with Bob here.

    3. The Federal Bureau of Investigation improperly obtained calling records for more than 3,500 telephone accounts from 2003 to 2006 without following any legal procedures, according to a newly disclosed report by the Justice Department's inspector general. Instead, according to the 289-page report, F.B.I. agents informally requested the records from employees of three unidentified telephone companies who were stationed inside a bureau communications office. Based on nothing more than e-mail messages or scribbled requests on Post-it notes, the phone employees turned over customer calling records, the report said. On some occasions, the phone employees allowed the F.B.I. to upload call records to government databases. On others, they allowed agents to view records on their computer screens, a practice that became known as "sneak peeks." Moreover, the report found that the F.B.I. improperly uploaded into its databases large numbers of calling records without determining whether they were relevant to an investigation.

      Read more: FBI Phone Tapping - Unprecedented Precedents - Esquire
      Follow us: @Esquiremag on Twitter | Esquire on Facebook
      Visit us at Esquire.com

    4. This truly is an hilarious universe, But WTF Bizarro World Trolltown is this D i C guy from?

      "Yes, Greg. Fox News didn't treat Sheehan like a goddess, but just about every other news outlet did. The rare exception is why I wrote "Virtually the entire media deified Cindy Sheehan." "

      Sorry I didn't reproduce the (hilarious!) italics -- genius!!! Please stick around in the real world awhile, we need the laughs.

    5. Oh, bullshit, Greg. David's rhetoric isn't false, it's precisely what the media did with Sheehan until they learned that she had the temerity to make demands upon the Obama Administration too.

      That said, let's please stop manipulating the anguish of parents in bolstering a story.

      Stop it Fox. Stop it media.

    6. Oh, no way! Cecelia, you believe the "liberal media" meme? Only if you redefine liberal by taking out support for the working class.

    7. DAinCA illustrates the maxim If you can do nothing else, then at least you can serve as a bad example. Examine right-wing rhetoric like DAinCA's and you'll find not much more than received and false opinion. DAinCA has neither read nor re-reviewed news accounts of Cindy Sheehan. The "deified" meme is taken directly from the right-wing blogosphere and panditocracy. A common charge is that "the left" called her "the Rosa Parks of the peace movement," although this was taken from Sheehan's own statement that she didn't "Intend to become the Rosa Parks" of that movement. A quick look in the intertube archives shows that the NYT was neutral in covering her activities like the vigil at Bush's ranch, quoting Sheehan, but also quoting the President's flacks about her ("well intentioned") as well as veterans' relatives who opposed her. Eric Zorn, the resident liberal of The Chicago Tribune wrote that the President was right in principle not to meet with Sheehan a second time -- he'd already talked to her once -- although it might create a PR problem for him. Zorn also noted that Bush had dispatched a top advisor to talk to her during her protest at the ranch, but that that wasn't good enough for her. Even at that bastion of Maxism, dailykos, there were posts and discussion threads about not treating Sheehan as a saint.

      As usual, it's about the projection. This time with a twist. Not only was Sheehan not deified by the left, she was vilified by the right with accusations of insanity and antisemitism.

      CeceliaMc, it's always a mistake to buy into the storyline of people like DAinCA without checking the facts. Sheehan did indeed oppose Obama's foreign policy, but it was old news when she did. Sheehan publicly broke with the Democratic party in 2007 before Obama was even nominated.

    8. "Deifying" Cindy Sheehan as a "Goddess who could do or say no wrong" is "precisely" what happened? What a load of overblown bullshit. It just never ends with these people. If they're not lying the country into war, they're doing their best to drum up some fake scandal. At the core in both cases, and primary similarity, is a complete self-serving right wing disregard for honesty.

    9. Way to go deadtrat! Can we at least all agree to take an "ad fontes" approach here in TDH comments section. TDH is at its best when analyzing actual transcripts of what actual people actually said. So don't bring lame a$$ talking points--right wing or left wing--and bland generalities summarizing received opinion. Go to the source or go home.

  4. Not related to Benghazi, but part of your beat: Sarah Kliff at Wonkblog massively botched an interview with Lamar Alexander discussing his comparison of Sebelius' efforts to implement Obamacare to Iran Contra. Kliff failed to recognize that the primary outrage of Iran Contra was that Congress expressly forbade funding of the rebels, but the executive branch did so any way, secretly raising the money through sales of arms to Iran. That's not really analogous to persuading private interest groups to fund a private entity whose goals are aligned with those of Obamacare.*

    *That doesn't necessarily make Sebelius' actions okay or desirable, just not like iran Contra.

  5. While all these overpaid TV personalities tell us they want to know who told who to say what, why don't they throw in a quick explanation as to what difference it makes whether it was called terrorist attack or extremist violence.

  6. We'll let you hang your hat on the word "necessarily." The ACA or Obamacare is the law of the land. Nobody has the right to complain about efforts to make sure everyone benefits from the law of the land, but that is the source of the criticism. They want the law to fail, so efforts to make sure it works as well as intended are deemed "political." When it is the law of the land it is not political any longer.

    1. What could possibly be the problem with the HHS Secretary seeking massive donations from the industries she's supposed to be regulating? As long as the goal is "making the law work," the conflict of interest just evaporates, right?

    2. Except that the HHS doesn't really "regulate" the insurance industry under the ACA so much as give them access to a huge, captive, and profitable market.

    3. Quaker in a BasementMay 15, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      HHS regulates the insurance industry?

      The things you can learn on the Internet...!

    4. IIRC HHS can regulate the rates charged by the health insurance companies. If so, health insurance companies will be profitable only if HHS sets rates that allow a profit.

      P.S. deadrat, if your implicit point is that the ACA is badly structured, then I fully agree with you.

    5. DAinCA, Have you ever recalled anything correctly? The ACA requires that insurance companies spend at least 80% of what they collect on health care. Beyond that, rates are to be set by (allegedly) competitive offerings through the infamous insurance exchanges

    6. The Affordable Care Act brings an unprecedented level of scrutiny and transparency to health insurance rate increases. Thanks to the law, for the first time ever, insurance companies in all states cannot raise rates without accountability or transparency.[1] By requiring insurance companies to document, submit for review, and publicly justify rate increases of 10 percent or more, requests for rate increases above that level receive greater scrutiny than they had prior to the Affordable Care Act.


      That's perhaps somewhat ambiguous, but it sounds to me like the government can prevent a rate increase over 10%. The phrase "publicly justify" sounds like the government will decided whether or not an increase greater than 10% is justified.

    7. Nope. All it says is that they can't do it without "scrutiny."

      Try again.

  7. I don't have to try again. I'm an expert in getting government approval for insurance rates. The word "justify" means that the government can reject a rate increase.

  8. Sure ya are, Sparky. Just like you're an expert in what happened in Benghazi and in the area of equal protection law. So tell me, what was the last federal insurance agency you went to for approval of insurance rates?

    Anybody can play the Insurance Commissioner in cyberspace. But it's not because I don't trust you on this matter; it's that based on what you post here, I don't trust your word on anything. Insurance regulation is generally a state matter, and I'm sure federalism is something else you're entirely ignorant about.

    Now, it's possible that you're right, and come 1/1/14, the feds will regulate the hell out of the health insurance industry, but as your hero once said, "Trust but verify." And that would exclude taking your word for your expertise.