LAND OF SCRIPT: Once again, the text of what Susan Rice said!


Interlude—Still being misreported: Tomorrow, we will return to the New York Times’ front-page report about what happened in Benghazi.

For our previous report, click here.

In his lengthy front-page report, David Kirkpatrick shot down two key parts of last year’s script concerning Benghazi. Sadly, he left other parts of the script in place.

More specifically, he misparaphrased what Susan Rice said when she appeared on the Sunday morning programs on September 16, 2012. He even flatly misquoted her at one point.

Through these actions, Kirkpatrick keeps script alive. More specifically, he perpetuates the idea that Rice misspoke on those Sunday shows.

He misquoted Rice from Meet the Press. Here is the transcript to which we’ll return tomorrow:
GREGORY (9/16/12): The images, as you well know, are jarring to Americans watching all of this play out this week, and we'll share the map of all of this turmoil with our viewers to show the scale of it across not just the Arab world but the entire Islamic world, and flashpoints as well.

In Egypt, of course, the protests outside the U.S. Embassy there that Egyptian officials were slow to put down. This weekend in Pakistan, protests, as well, there. More anti-American rage, also protests against the drone strikes. In Yemen, you also had arrests and some deaths outside of our U.S. Embassy there.

How much longer can Americans expect to see these troubling images and these protests go forward?

RICE: Well, David, we can't predict with any certainty. But let's remember what has transpired over the last several days. This is a response to a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

Obviously, our view is that there is absolutely no excuse for violence, and that what has happened is condemnable. But this is a spontaneous reaction to a video, and it's not dissimilar, but perhaps on a slightly larger scale, than what we have seen in the past with Satanic Verses, with the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

Now, the United States has made very clear, and the president has been very plain, that our top priority is the protection of American personnel in our facilities and bringing to justice those who attacked our facilities—

GREGORY: Well, let's talk—you talk about this as spontaneous. Can you say definitively that the attacks on our consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Stevens and others there, security personnel, that was spontaneous? Was it a planned attack? Was there a terrorist element to it?

RICE: Well, let me tell you the best information we have at present.

First of all, there is an FBI investigation, which is ongoing, and we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired.

But putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo—almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.

What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons, which, unfortunately, are readily available in post-revolutionary Libya, and that escalated into a much more violent episode.

Obviously, that's our best judgment now. We'll await the results of the investigation, and the president has been very clear—we'll work with the Libyan authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
To watch the full exchange, click here. Even as he debunked two parts of the Benghazi script, Kirkpatrick continued to misrepresent what Rice said on that program.

At one point, he even flatly misquotes her! Such is the power of script in our culture—in our degraded lives.


  1. Here is what Kirkpatrick's article says:

    “What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video.”

    Republicans, pouncing on the misstatement, have argued that the Obama administration was trying to cover up Al Qaeda’s role."

    So, he truncates Rice's statement, leaving out the part that made it consistent with the facts and distorting her meaning, then calls what she said a "misstatement," presumably justifying the right's uproar about it. It is unclear why he would do that unless he was working from sources that similarly truncated her remarks and not from the original transcript. I agree that this stinks.

  2. I, too, agree that this stinks. But I wish we would all stop talking as if only the NYT, MSNBC, and a few influential others follow scripts. You might say that script = journalism, always has.

    More in response to bob's earlier post on scripts, but.... I have had reason lately to be reading NYT 1884 stories about a murder of someone who happens to have been one of my great-great-grandfathers (I had no idea he'd been murdered -- barely was aware he existed -- till a few weeks ago!). Anyway, the four stories in the NYT (haven't tried to track the many other NYC papers of the day -- the murder created, apparently, quite a sensation, if briefly) read like a George Raft or James Cagney movie -- really, down to the scrappy NY immigrant kid who first thinks he sees some guys rolling a drunk and then later discovers the body in the hallway (well, with the help of his mother and her friend in the building -- colorful immigrant details there), or the teenager who follows the Irish (sorry, they were) miscreants on the streetcar, or the saloon keeper (yeah, they were called saloons even in NYC in those days).

    Bob needs to theorize his critiques more thoroughly.

    1. Would add that journalism as script is exactly what makes journalism so interesting to a historian....

  3. "At one point, he even flatly misquotes her! "

    We, for one, look forward to Part 3!


  4. I'm in mind now of Perry Miller (Harvard prof, btw) on the Jeremiad and its participation on that which it decries.