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The Already Asked-And-Answered Questions Fox Wants To Know From The Benghazi Select Committee

May 7, 2014 4:03 PM EDT


Fox News has pushed reset on many of its favorite Benghazi myths that have already been put to rest in the wake of the recently released Rhodes email and the House GOP’s announcement of the formation of a Select Committee to investigate the attacks.

QUESTION: Who Changed The Talking Points?

QUESTION: Why Blame The Attacks On A Video?

QUESTION: Where Was President Obama During The Attacks?

QUESTION: Why Wasn’t More Done To Rescue Americans?

QUESTION: Why Won’t Congress Consider Eyewitnesses In Benghazi Investigations?


White House Released Email Used To Prepare Susan Rice For Sunday Talk Shows

NY Times: White House Releases Emails Sent To Susan Rice Before Media Appearances. On April 30 The New York Times reported that the White House had released an email dated September 14, 2012, from Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes to other national security aides including then-ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, that included “goals for Ms. Rice’s appearances on the shows and advice on how to discuss the subject of the protests that were raging in Libya and at other American diplomatic posts in the Middle East” during appearances on the Sunday talk shows. [The New York Times4/30/14]

Right-Wing Media Use Manufactured Scandal Over Email To Revive Already-Answered Questions

QUESTION: Who Changed The Talking Points?

Gretchen Carlson: Benghazi Asks Whether Talking Points Were Deliberately Changed.  During an interview with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) on the May 2 edition of The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson argued that the most important information about Benghazi comes down to, “Did anyone deliberately change the talking points, how far up did that go?”  [Fox News, The Real Story, 5/2/14]

Steve Hayes: A Second Set Of Talking Points Were Created By White House. On the May 2 edition of America’s Newsroom, Fox contributor Steve Hayes claimed, “There were in effect two sets of talking points, one that was produced by the intelligence community that was edited with heavy input from the White House, the State Department, and others and that ultimately was produced for Capitol Hill, and on the other hand you have this second set of talking points that was produced by the White House for Susan Rice that placed heavy emphasis on the video.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 5/2/14]

Neil Cavuto: There Was An “Orchestrated Effort To Present Talking Points That Were Based On Lies.” During an interview with Rep. Cohen (D-TN) on the May 5 edition of Fox News’ Your World, host Neil Cavuto argued that the Rhodes email “at least showed an orchestrated effort to present talking points that were based on lies.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 5/5/14]

ANSWER: There Were No Efforts To Alter Talking Points For Political Purposes

Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: “Talking Points Went Through The Normal Interagency Coordination Process.” The Senate Committee on Intelligence review determined there was no effort by the administration to cover-up or alter the talking points for political purposes:

The Majority concludes that the interagency coordination process on the talking points followed normal, but rushed coordination procedures and that there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to “cover-up” facts or make alterations for political purposes.  Indeed, former CIA Director David Petraeus testified to the Committee on November 16, 2012, “They went through the normal process that talking points-unclassified public talking points-go through.”  In fact, the purpose of the National Security Council (NSC) is to coordinate the many national security agencies of the government, especially when information about a terrorist attack is flowing in and being analyzed quickly-and the NSC used this role appropriately in the case of the talking points coordination.  Furthermore, such coordination processes were also standardized, often at the urging of Congress, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with the explicit goal of reducing information “stovepipes” between and among agencies. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14] page 65.

Slate’s Weigel: Rhodes Email Relied On CIA Talking Points. Laying out a timeline of events, Slate’s David Weigel pointed out that the Rhodes email came “hours after the CIA and State Department were urging that the assault on the U.S. consulate be blamed on a protest.” Weigel added that “it’s just lazy journalism or lazy politicking to blame Rhodes for a talking point that was fed from the CIA.” [Slate, 4/30/14] .

Email Consistent With Intelligence Reports At The Time. The email issued by Rhodes, which advised Rice on her upcoming appearances, provided information about global protests and said specifically about the attack, “the currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex.” The language used by Rhodes is nearly identical to the initial draft of the CIA talking points, and was consistent with the intelligence community. [Media Matters4/29/14]QUESTION: Why Blame The Attacks On A Video?

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