The work of the three blind mice: Did Susan Rice say something wrong when she did those Sunday shows and discussed the attack on Benghazi?
We would say that she did not, and we’d say it loudly. Good luck getting major career journalists to state such an unapproved point!
Rice did make one factual error that day. After saying, about three hundred times, that her information was provisional, she said a demonstration had been occurring in Benghazi before “extremists armed with heavy weapons” arrived at the scene and “hijacked events.”
By now, everyone agrees that there was no pre-existing demonstration. The extremists simply arrived at the scene and launched the killing attack.
But it was clear, from Rice’s account, that the presumed demonstrators didn’t launch the killing attack. The killing attack was launched by those extremists armed with heavy weapons. They might have been “al Qaeda affiliates,” she told Bob Schieffer, or even “al Qaeda itself.”
Those are the things Rice actually said on those Sunday programs. To review excerpts from Face the Nation, just see yesterday’s post.
But alas! Our national discourse rarely turns on the things officials say. Much more often, our discourse turns on the things officials are said to have said.
As we noted yesterday, Rice was instantly misparaphrased in the most ridiculous ways. The truth about what she actually said has never re-emerged.
None of the church mice are willing to say that John McCain created a pitiful, bogus tale about what she actually said. For the three most recent examples, just check out Hirsh, Cohen and Robinson.
At Politico magazine, Michael Hirsh largely took the administration’s side in his recent report about Benghazi. And yet, in accord with Hard Pundit Law, he felt he had to say this:
HIRSH (5/4/14):[I]t’s fair to ask why Clinton seemed to be too busy to deal with new threats in a critical region or appear herself on TV to discuss the murder of a U.S. ambassador. Sure, we know that Hillary hates doing the Sunday talk shows, but so what? She bore far more responsibility for Benghazi than the unlucky person the administration sent out in her stead, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, whose shaky performance deep-sixed her own Foggy Bottom ambitions.Really? What was “shaky” about Rice’s performance that day? Eventually, Hirsh managed to offer this pseudo-explanation, even as he took the administration’s side in the debate:
HIRSH: It doesn’t seem to matter that the gradually emerging story about Benghazi has, if anything, only seemed to back the administration’s original account of the violence against Stevens and the other Americans. Recall that the central issue for the critics was—and is—whether the “talking points” mainly drafted by the CIA and provided to Susan Rice for her appearances on the Sunday talk shows accurately reflected what the U.S. intelligence community knew at the time, or whether the administration knowingly misrepresented this intelligence. Accurately summing up the CIA talking points, Rice had said in her TV interviews that the administration believed that the attacks were to some degree spontaneous, partly motivated by demonstrations in Cairo and other cities against a U.S.-made video lampooning the Prophet Mohammad. Still, Rice noted that “extremist elements” might have taken part—again reflecting the intelligence community’s contemporaneous assessment (though Rice might have emphasized the video more than the talking points warranted).“Rice might have emphasized the video more than the talking points warranted?” That was the best Hirsh could do—and even this claim went unsupported.
The balance of evidence today, according to intelligence officials and corroborating news reports, is that the terrible events of Sept. 12, 2012, pretty much played out in the way Rice said back then. Authorities still believe that extremist groups opportunistically exploited the anti-American demonstrations in the region to launch the attacks. True, intelligence officials did get one major thing wrong. It took a week or so after Rice’s TV appearances to clarify, for certain, that there had been no protests in Benghazi itself before the assault on the compound—and that, as the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement on Sept. 28, two weeks after Rice appeared, “it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”
Even as he offered this statement, he noted that the events at Benghazi actually did “pretty much play out in the way Rice said back then.” If Hirsh was going to say such things, why did he refer, near the start of his piece, to Rice’s “shaky performance,” which “deep-sixed her own Foggy Bottom ambitions?”
Simple! That was done in accord with Hard Pundit Law! At this point, a scribe is required to say that!
In this morning’s Washington Post, Richard Cohen and Gene Robinson pound away at the GOP for the ongoing Benghazi bullroar. Our assignment, if you can stomach the chore:
Read their columns to see the way they keep stepping around the bull about Rice. The word for fiery fellows like this would have to be weak, lazy, soft.
To this day, no one is willing to say that Saint McCain invented a tale, hackishly helped by Schieffer. You simply will not see that said. Hard Pundit Law doesn’t allow it.
Once someone has been left for dead, careerists never challenge the script. Rice was left for dead long ago. If you doubt that, read the three kings!
Rice’s statements were baldly misparaphrased. Even today, some twenty months later, no one is willing to state that fact or name those two famous names.