Fox Nation vs. Reality: The White House Did Not Edit CIA Talking Points

Earning a place at the top of the Fox Nation web site this morning is story that complies perfectly with the non-existent journalistic standards of Fox News. The article cites the uber-conservative blog FreeBeacon and features the headline “White House Deleted Al Qaeda From CIA Talking Points.”

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As usual, the Fox Nationalists only got one thing wrong with their story: the whole story. As it turns out, there is no evidence that the White House deleted Al Qaeda from the CIA talking points. What’s more, there is nothing in the article that affirms the falsehood in the headline.

This story hinges on the latest effort by the right and Fox News to malign President Obama and to politicize the tragic deaths of Americans in Benghazi, Libya. There has been a well coordinated smear campaign seeking to blame Obama not only for attacks perpetrated by terrorists, but also for a cover-up of information about those attacks. The GOP is also exploiting the affair to derail the possible appointment of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to be the next Secretary of State.

However, the partisan outrage has been woefully short of any substance. The right has been clamoring for answers from the White House, but when they get the answers they pretend that they didn’t hear anything. The official White House response from Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor, stated clearly that…

“This question came up as to whether the White House had edited Susan Rice’s points and the points that were provided to Congress and the administration — the only edit that was made to those points by the White House, and was also made by the State Department, was to change the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility” since the facility in Benghazi had not — was not formally a consulate. Other than that, we worked off of the points that were provided by the intelligence community.”

And if that weren’t clear enough, recent testimony by Gen. Petraeus backed up the White House’s version of events in closed-door testimony before congress. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a harsh critic of the President, spoke with reporters after the testimony and said that Gen. Petraeus told the committee that the CIA approved the talking points after they were edited and said it was “Okay for it to go.” When asked if he was upset about Al Qaeda being removed, he said that he was not, according to King.

Ordinarily that would suffice to quell speculation about some far-ranging conspiracy to murder American diplomats and sweep the scandal under the rug. But Fox News was never interested in the facts in the first place. They have latched unto this invented controversy to damage the President and they don’t intend to let go merely because the truth contradicts their narrative.


10 thoughts on “Fox Nation vs. Reality: The White House Did Not Edit CIA Talking Points

  1. Just as valid, there was no evidence from the first moment that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration as the result of that pesky anti-Islamic video. But that didn’t stop the Administration, including Pres. Obama, from blaming it on the video. The only time he outright claimed it was an act of terror was during the 2nd debate, when all of a sudden, he used the utterance of the words ‘act of terror’ to boast how he stated from the gitgo that this was an act of terror.

    It’s always possible that the White House didn’t get the message, and it’s possible that the White House didn’t make the changes to the original talking points, which did call the attack a terrorist act. However, I find it mind boggling that an administration and political campaign organization that seems to have had its finger on the pulse of everything and has been touted as the pinnacle of organization, somehow was a bystander in this entire affair and had nothing to do with the narrative put forth for a few weeks.

    Of course, the President is being shielded — plausible deniability — unless the whole thing unravels at some point when somebody blows the whistle.

    FOX may not have all the facts, and they may be making certain assumptions that are a departure from true journalism. But at least until recently, they have been the only ones questioning the obvious, which is what a fair press is supposed to do.

    • First of all, there WAS evidence that the attack was incited by the video and, in fact, the attackers still claim that as the reason for the attack. The discrepancy is whether the attack erupted from a spontaneous demonstration or was pre-planned, but the reason is not disputed.

      Secondly, I find your last paragraph interesting where you concede that Fox departed from the truth AND did what a fair press does. I find it remarkable that you can say both of those things in the same breath.

      That said, this article is not about the substance of the attack and the cover-up. It is about Fox blatantly lying in their headline.

  2. I realize you prefer to focus on FOX rather than the attack, the events leading up to it and the narrative in its aftermath. It’s classic deflection to avoid dealing with what might have happened.

    I think you’re a pretty smart guy, Mark. You are able to parse out nuance, find inaccuracies however huge or minuscule. Yet somehow you are unable to see even the remote possibility that the administration’s handling of the entire Benghazi / Libya affair is nothing unusual. Not only that, any attempt at investigating it is nothing more than a witch hunt.

    So, this obscure video was the reason for the attack on the consulate by terrorists who really were looking for a reason to attack. The fact that there was no demonstration in Benghazi as the result of the video or that it coincidentally happened to be Sept. 11th is lost on you. You seem to think that terrorists need a legitimate reason to attack us, effectively characterizing their actions as a counter punch to our actions. I’m sure this is what the administration calculated when it chose to advance the “video” theory.

    Your depiction of what I said in my last paragraph above is inaccurate. My point was that FOX isn’t perfect, and sometimes gets it wrong or makes mistakes. The reason for having a free press is to ensure it keeps government honest. What do you call ignoring the story until after the election by the vast majority of the media — prudently adversarial to the administration? I haven’t seen a post from you on this issue, except to criticize FOX News. With all its flaws, this story wouldn’t have seen the light of day had it not been for them. Do you recall the seemingly irrelevant break in at the Dem HQ at Watergate? That appeared insignificant at the time as well, but eventually resulted in Pres. Nixon’s resignation.

    • The ones involved as well as those who were there on the ground when the attack happened have cited the video as being a cause, if not simply an impetus for the attack. But regardless the main issue is about FOX blaming the administration for trying to put the cause of the attack on the video being without merit. That’s because the administration did no such thing. They condemned the video which DID cause protests in CAIRO and then went on to state that investigations into the attack in Benghazi was under investigation and they could not rule out terrorism as the cause. At no point did they say that the video was wholly to blame for the attacks (even though now, evidence has come up that sow that it WAS at least partly the reason the attacks went on at that time, this is counter to your “9/11 coincidence” line for which no one can prove. Would you not discount the fact that the terrorists could have decided to carry out their attack under the pretext of the unrest caused by the video regardless of whether they had originally planned to strike on that particular day).

      It’s odd you should mention the narrative in the aftermath, because Fox’s narrative, rather than simply drawing attention to the issue has served to conflate it, sometimes in a blatantly dishonest fashion, to their own ends (portraying Obama in a negative light). Their line of the administration “blaming the attacks on the video” occurred scarcely a day after the attacks and they even went so far as to say that Susan Rice blamed the attacks on the video even though in the original interview she was talking about Cairo where the video was concerned and said that investigations into the Benghazi attack were underway.

      The narrative escalated into the inane when Fox started pushing the line that Obama did not immediately state that it was a terrorist attack even though his address in the rose garden immediately following the attack had him labeling it as an act of terror. Mitt Romney bought this line from Fox and used it in the presidential debates much to his cost.

      Now they are starting to explore unknown territory with accusations that the Administration “deliberately left 4 Americans dead in Benghazi” and even trying to rope in the Petraeus scandal as somehow being related to a “cover up” for which there is as yet no credible evidence.

      It’s one thing to give credit to a network for highlighting an issue, but it’s entirely another when said network begins reworking the narrative in a partisan direction and in a manner which is ethically incorrect and inherently dishonest. Fox has not only failed to provide any credible evidence of its accusations and conspiracies of a coverup, but they have also been shown to be less than honest in their coverage of the issue in order to skew the narrative in a particular direction. I don’t give Fox any credit because they’ve been proven dishonest in their coverage and have yet to show why their followup coverage on the conspiracy theory angle of a coverup is worth believing

      • “The ones involved as well as those who were there on the ground when the attack happened have cited the video as being a cause, if not simply an impetus for the attack…”

        It’s also possible that the attack happened because the guy with the rocket propelled grenade had the day off on 09/11/2012 and 09/12/2012, but had errands to run 9/12 and might not be able to squeeze in the attack that day.

        It sounds more like finding something, anything to blame the attack on so as to make it less toxic. So, we had the administration claiming they just didn’t know what happened and didn’t want to come out being definitive about the cause. However, rather than deferring as to the cause, it was ok to refer to the video and the spontaneous nature of the attack.

        When the President felt cornered, though, he exclaimed that he called the attack an act of terror in the Rose Garden on 09/12. Really?

        Here’s how I see the President’s comments in the Rose Garden on 09/12/2012, using the transcript:

        Every word in Pres. Obama’s statement in the Rose Garden was carefully crafted. He could have said anything he wanted, but he chose to say what he said.

        For example, Par. 2 of his statement: “Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.” He could very easily have said, “Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in a TERRORIST attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.”

        Another example, Par. 3: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.” He could have said, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking TERRORIST attack.”

        Another one, Par. 4: “The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.” He could have said, “The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal TERRORIST acts.”

        Par.5: “Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya. Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.” How about saying, “Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this TERRORIST attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya. Libyan security personnel fought back against the TERRORIST attackers alongside Americans.”

        Finally in par. 10, after talking about the Benghazi attack specifically (proactively not using the word ‘terrorist’), Pres. Obama goes on to talk about the fact that the previous day we marked the memory of the 9/11 attacks and referred to those whose graves he visited who fought and paid the ultimate price in Iraq and Afghanistan, did he refer to “No acts of terror”. It’s no wonder someone might be confused about the context.

        What underscores the fact that his Rose Garden statement did not mean to call the Benghazi attack a terrorist act is that for the next couple of weeks, Jay Carney, Amb. Rice, Hillary Clinton and Pres. Obama himself did not mention it. They did, however, mention (ad nauseum) that what happened was a spontaneous demonstration over a video, when the facts reflected they knew it was an organized terrorist attack.

        In the meantime, the Obama administration/campaign has the audacity to blame the Romney campaign for politicizing this terrible incident. While one can criticize the Romney campaign for making statements too soon, he kinda turned out to be right. Besides, even if you think his comments were inappropriate or politically motivated, it didn’t justify lies by the Obama camp. A lie is a lie. Deceit can be nothing more than deceit. At a minimum, the President used very muted language which could reasonably have been motivated by a desire to avoid the appearance that terrorist activity was alive and well rather than being “on the run”.

        The motivation for the deceit is simple – 1. The security failure would make the administration appear incompetent. 2. The political narrative that bin Laden was dead, Al Qaeda was on its back foot and terrorists had been decimated and neutralized would fall apart.

        Can you spell politicization?

        I don’t really care who gets credit for this story, except that the only media outlet investigating this (with all its innuendo, premature conclusions, conspiracy theories, etc.) has been FOX News.

        • So after writing all of that, your conclusion is that you don’t care who gets credit for a story that is rampant with lies?

          The whole Benghazi-gate fable is falling apart now that Gen. Petraeus and sources within the intelligence community have come forward to say that the edits to the talking points were done (and approved) by the intelligence community, not the White House. The whole Fox News “scandal” was bullshit. The administration was giving information that, at the time, was accurate and/or appropriate for public disclosure. Fox News owes Obama, Rice, and the American people an apology.

          • I think you’re a little premature in your conclusion, but time will tell. I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. I do think that it’s possible that the Admin molded the situation after the fact in order to get thru the election untarnished. I don’t think it’s a matter of the MSM ignoring a story, just not getting any new info to report on a daily basis. Meanwhile Foxnews would run the same story for days with the obligatory “some people say” arguement and followed by a fact free debate with speculation gone wild. Most of the MSM didn’t cover Watergate because you can’t put the same facts that you had 6 weeks ago back on the front page without some new developments. Nowadays the legit press seems willing to wait for investigations to be conducted by various gov. entities. My guess is that news companies no longer have the money to investigate stories on their own. Notice that Fox hasn’t done much investigating either, it was more a speculating witch hunt in order to possibly affect the outcome of the election. Several shows on Fox admitted as much when they speculated on where the Independent voters would land on this issue. It’s a complicated storyline that will get unraveled over time.

  4. Mark, I agree this is a complicated story line that will unravel over time. FOX News was unrelenting in its coverage, and I agree that a lot of it was a rehash of the same information.

    I like your premise that MSM probably doesn’t have the funds to investigate the way it used to. It’s a shame that we rely on the govt. to investigate itself, and then just report the results. I don’t recall that being the case when WMD were not found or the backlash on the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks, but maybe I’m just being sensitive.

    It doesn’t take any extra funds, by the way, to ask tough questions of the President at his presser, and follow ups in the event he avoided answering. It also doesn’t cost any money for panel members on the Sunday morning shows to question things. Apparently, CNN had enough funds to have a correspondent go to Benghazi and find the Ambassador’s journal, but then limiting its report to that. In the last week or so, there hasn’t been any shortage of funds to investigate Genl. Petraeus’ affair.

    It will be interesting to see how this story develops. My guess is that it will die just the same as Fast and Furious did.

  5. This is a big nonstory that Fox is trying its best to turn into something that this administration intentionally committed an illegal act, and then to protect itself from the illegal act instigated a coverup. Unfortunately for Fox there is no there, there. On the other hand, since Fox is not a real news organiation interested in things like facts and news, they can practice their pseudo-journalism as they always do, and continue to denigrate and disparage those Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes percieve as their political enemies. This story is hogwash and is going nowhere fast.

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