Part 5—Where claims don’t have to make sense: On Sunday, May 12, Sharyl Attkisson took part in a 42-minute interview segment on C-Span’s Washington Journal.
To watch the full session, click here.
Attkisson is an “investigative correspondent” for CBS News. The highly telegenic TV performer has been a major on-air presence at CBS since 1993.
Instantly, Attkisson began making claims about the attack in Benghazi—claims which didn’t seem to make a great deal of sense. Her statements displayed the Wonderland logic routinely displayed on the Fox News Channel as hosts and guests insist that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have staged an outrageous cover-up about that deadly attack.
Susan Rice did too! Everybody knows this!
Instantly, Attkisson began pounding away, advancing GOP-inflected narratives marked by their tortured logic and their flight from basic facts. At several points, she even journeyed beyond the fractured logic established and licensed by Fox.
But so what? Seven minutes into the session, an irate caller from Minneapolis rejected Attkisson’s pitch.
The caller seemed sure that Attkisson had been pushing the liberal agenda concerning Benghazi. As she spoke, she too displayed the Wonderland logic which has come to define the way this topic gets discussed:
CALLER (5/12/13): I can’t believe it says “investigative correspondent.” You know, this story should have been investigated and no one but the press and liberals believed that nonsense about the video. I can’t, I can’t believe that you’re just now talking about it. You avoided this story like the plague because you wanted Obama to get reelected. This story came out in September. And also, no one is talking about the fact that this poor man—At this point, host Steve Scully broke in to say that Attkisson has been “one of the very first to report some of these inconsistences.”
The caller wasn’t mollified. “But I mean the station too. The station,” she said, before getting interrupted again. It wasn’t clear if she meant CBS or C-Span itself.
So it goes in a modern world which runs by Wonderland logic. The caller was wildly off base about Attkisson’s approach to this topic, but she was sure that she understood everybody’s motives. That said, we especially note the caller’s complaint concerning “that nonsense about the video,” the nonsense which no one believed except the press and liberals.
Again, this is what the caller said in this phone call from Wonderland:
No one but the press and liberals believed that nonsense about the video.
No one but the press and liberals believed that nonsense about the video! Because we live in a post-rational world, no one asked the caller to explain what specific “nonsense” she meant.
What particular nonsense did the caller have in mind? What particular nonsense had those misguided people believed? No one asked the caller to explain or clarify this point. Instead, Scully insisted that Attkisson and C-Span were on the level—and Attkisson gave a short speech saying that CBS had always been “very aggressive” in its pursuit of this story.
So it goes as a killing attack gets discussed in an upside-down land.
The caller was angry because the press had “believed that nonsense about the video.” In saying that, she voiced one part of the illogical shorthand which now surrounds Benghazi.
This Wonderland logic involves a great many curious claims: Any action by terrorist groups must have been preplanned. No Islamic terrorist could ever be angered by an anti-Muslim video. If an action is spontaneous, that means it wasn’t done by terrorists...
In Wonderland, the list of illogical claims goes on and on and on. This curious logic is often joined to inaccurate claims about what various people have said about the Benghazi attack.
That said, all residents know that they must say what that caller said. They must always deride “the nonsense about the video,” perhaps without feeling the need to explain what that nonsense is.
What did the caller have in mind when she derided that nonsense? Scully didn’t ask, perhaps because this form of derision has become so common.
Indeed, we can guess what the caller meant—what she believes the nonsense about the video is. The caller lives in Wonderland, whose regional logic is on display on cable TV every night.
In the Wonderland created by Fox and McCain, everyone knows that you must deride any reference to that silly video—any reference to the insulting anti-Muslim video which came to prominence in the days before the Benghazi attack.
Everyone knows it’s crazy to think that this video could have had any connection to what occurred in Benghazi. The caller didn’t have to explain what she meant by her derisive remark. By now, everyone knows what such callers mean when they vent in this self-assured fashion.
Everyone knows that it’s crazy to think that the people who staged the Benghazi attack could have been angry about that video. Everyone knows that this ludicrous thought must be hotly rejected—denounced as a cover-up invented by Obama.
This is Wonderland-type thinking. Several reasons for that assessment follow:
At the time of the Benghazi attack, the Muslim world had gone up in flames because of that YouTube video. Major newspapers, including the conservative Washington Times, cited eyewitnesses who linked the attack in Benghazi to anger about that video.
“The attackers...claimed they were enraged by an American film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad,” the Washington Times reported on September 13.
The New York Times had reporters on the scene as the killing attack proceeded. “Interviewed at the scene on Tuesday night, many attackers and those who backed them said they were determined to defend their faith from the video's insults,” the paper reported two days later.
In Wonderland, none of that exists. None of it ever did exist. Callers are sure that no one but the press and liberals could ever have imagined that the anti-Muslim video could possibly have been connected to the killing attack.
In Wonderland, Islamic extremists don’t get mad or seek revenge when the prophet is insulted, especially in some silly video. In Wonderland, everyone knows this. Islamic extremists are much too sane to care about such things!
To what extent has this crackpot logic taken hold in Wonderland? Minutes before that irate phone call, Attkisson showed how far she was willing to wander into that curious land.
Benghazi wasn’t caused by the video, she semi-authoritatively seemed to assert. And not only that! The earlier attack on the Cairo embassy may not have been inspired by the video either!
ATTKISSON (5/12/13): Something I learned through looking at the talking point versions this week was— A question I have, I guess I should say, is: Was the Cairo attack in fact inspired by a YouTube video? We now—nobody believes, or nobody is saying, that the Benghazi attack was any longer. But if you look at the talking points before they were changed, they reference a CIA warning that went out September 10 that specifically said they had intelligence that Islamic extremists were encouraging demonstrators and jihadists to break into the embassy in Cairo as well. So if we had a heads-up of that at least the day before, as well as the Benghazi incidents, were either of these incidents really inspired by the YouTube video?Can you follow that curious logic? If Islamic extremists encouraged the break-in at the embassy in Cairo, then that conduct couldn’t have been inspired by the video either! Only a lunatic reasons that way. Or someone deep inside Wonderland, someone who may even be seeking employment at Fox.
That caller to C-Span has heard this logic since last September. Endlessly, she hears derisive remarks about the non-existent effects of that utterly silly video.
In Wonderland, no one ever mentions the way that video roiled the Muslim world. And people keep misstating or reinventing the various things people said about that deeply consequential video.
Example: This happened on last evening’s Hannity, where the highly reliable Peter Johnson treated Wonderland viewers to this:
JOHNSON (5/30/13): Sean, the president, on September 25, at the United Nations, led the United States and the world to believe that this was a spontaneous attack that occurred because of an anti-Muslim video. That's what he was hinting at the United Nations 14 days later, two weeks later. Jay Carney, on September 19, talked about a video. On September 14 [sic], Ambassador Rice made up this notion about a video.Why did Obama (and Clinton) “condemn this anti-Muslim video?” Duh. Because the video had been roiling the Muslim world, whether it was the motive behind the Benghazi attack or not.
Why did the president sometimes say, “No, I said it was a terror attack,” and then two weeks later at the United Nations talks about a video and condemns this anti-Muslim video that had nothing to do with this attack?
(As far as we know, that question has not been settled, despite what Attkisson said.)
What did Obama actually say at the United Nations? He discussed “what we saw play out in the last two weeks, where a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world” (our emphasis). He didn’t specifically say what motivated the Benghazi attackers. He condemned the violence around the Muslim world, specifically saying this:
“There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.”
Just for the record, the embassy to which he referred was the embassy in Cairo. Silly Obama was still pretending that the storming of the embassy was occasioned by the insulting video, despite the dose of Wonderland logic Attkisson unveiled this month.
Let’s return to that C-Span viewer, who seemed to be calling from a station deep inside Wonderland.
For the past eight months, such citizens have been aggressively disinformed about all sorts of basic facts. They’ve also been treated to many doses of full-blown Wonderland logic. And uh-oh:
As this Wonderland was created on Fox, the liberal world stood quietly by. Career liberals behaved this same way during the Clinton-Gore years, when all sorts of bogus stories, widely recited, changed the course of world history.
That caller has heard a ton of crap from people like Peter Johnson. She has been exposed to very few attempts to challenge bogus facts or to untangle Wonderland logic.
Lawrence and Rachel haven’t tried to fight for that caller’s heart and mind. As was true in the Clinton-Gore years, these fiery liberals stood silently by as this Wonderland was created.
Career liberal leaders refuse to fight. All next week, from a neutral site, we will attempt to ask why.