From the day the news first broke about the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Republicans and conservative media have sought to exploit the tragedy and manufacture a scandal. Within hours of the initial reports Mitt Romney held a press conference blaming President Obama. Romney’s rash and irresponsible statements alleged that the administration had apologized to terrorists following the death of an American ambassador, even though the only statements made by the administration or the State Department were in response to protests and were issued before the attacks.
In the weeks that followed, the right has been feverishly attempting to invent a controversy, rather than showing a concern for the victims of for the conduct of a thorough investigation with the intent of bringing the perpetrators to justice. Partisan members of congress have held hearings designed to inflame emotions and disparage the President. Meanwhile, the press, led by Fox News, has been pumping out incomplete stories and pointing fingers without any evidence to validate their allegations.
Today, the father of Christopher Stevens, the slain ambassador, was interviewed by Bloomberg News and expressed his objection to the politicization of his son’s death:
The father of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed in the attack in Benghazi last month, said his son’s death shouldn’t be politicized in the presidential campaign.
“It would really be abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue,” Jan Stevens, 77, said in a telephone interview from his home in Loomis, California, as he prepares for a memorial service for his son next week.
Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has criticized President Barack Obama for not providing adequate security in Libya, saying the administration has left the country exposed to a deadly terrorist attack.
The ambassador’s father, a lawyer, said politicians should await the findings of a formal investigation before making accusations or judgments.
“The security matters are being adequately investigated,” Stevens said. “We don’t pretend to be experts in security. It has to be objectively examined. That’s where it belongs. It does not belong in the campaign arena.” Stevens said he has been getting briefings from the State Department on the progress of the investigation.
Mr. Stevens went on to say that he “felt very strongly about Secretary Clinton,” and that he “never heard [Chris] say a critical word about the State Department or the administration, or any administration for that matter. He came up through the foreign service, not politics.”
Nevertheless, leave it to Fox News to do the abhorrent thing. Throughout their broadcast day they have focused obsessively on this issue. Every program has heaped heavy doses of their speculative reporting – or should I say gossiping, because there has been little actual news content in their stories. What’s more, they have presented a determinedly one-sided exposition of events. Fox Nation has posted dozens of items that they sensationalize as Benghazi-Gate, a wholly inappropriate analogy.
Fox is not shy about exploiting family members of victims when it serves their partisan purposes. When the mother of Navy SEAL Sean Smith made some critical remarks about how the affair was being handled, Fox jumped in to feature her in exclusive interviews to expand on those criticisms. Jeanine Pirro hosted Mrs. Smith on her program for an extended segment that featured allegations that she had been lied to by the administration, and pleas for the truth that she alleged was being withheld.
Interestingly, Fox neglected to report that the mother of slain Navy SEAL Glen Doherty explicitly requested that Romney stop talking about her son in his stump speeches saying, “He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda.” Likewise, Fox neglected to report on a close family friend of Doherty who refuted Romney’s tall tales about meeting Doherty at a neighborhood party. So it should come as no surprise that Fox has yet to note these new remarks by the ambassador’s father. Fox only thinks the feelings of friends and relatives are important when they reflect badly on the President.
It is indeed repulsive to see Romney and the GOP PR machine trying to score political points over this tragic event. Their biased presentation is obvious to any neutral observer. Every time they charge that Obama declined to give additional security to the embassies, they leave out the fact that the Republican congress voted to cut funding for such activities. They also leave out the facts that the additional security that was requested was only for the embassy in Tripoli, not the compound in Benghazi, and that the extra security would not have prevented attacks like those in Benghazi in any case.
While the legitimate investigation is continuing by reputable law enforcement authorities, the right should take the advice of the ambassador’s father and the SEAL’s mother. They should quite politicizing the deaths of Americans. It is a despicable act of insensitivity, selfishness, and disrespect for the victims and the process of justice. These people did not die to give Fox a cudgel with which beat the President or to give Romney a campaign attack line.