It’s amazing to watch the media bury yesterday’s explosive testimony on Benghazi. Just imagine for a moment that today is the day after a veteran career diplomat – the top man on the ground in Libya after the murder of the ambassador – testified that a Republican administration told him not to cooperate with Democrat congressional investigators, shook him up with a menacing phone call from the top political “fixer” for a Secretary of State widely viewed as a leading 2016 presidential candidate, demoted him under cloudy circumstances so they could portray him as “disgruntled”… and then spent eight months loudly boasting of their enthusiastic, transparent cooperation with Congress. Imagine the media coverage – from the glowing profile of Gregory Hicks as a new whistleblower demigod in the pantheon of good-government heroes, to the hows of outrage that noble truth-seeking Congressmen were thwarted by the machinations of a shadowy White House bent on preserving its electoral viability, no matter the cost to public transparency or national security.
One thing you’d hear a lot more about today, in that Mirror Universe where the Benghazi scandal is hitting President John McCain early in his second term, is Hicks’ assertion that the phony “spontaneous video protest” cooked up by the Administration hampered the FBI investigation into the attacks, delaying access to the “crime scene” for weeks. Remember how reporters were grazing through the rubble and finding important documents, such as Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ journal, while the FBI was still bottled up in Tripoli? Remember how the Administration kept falsely claiming the “crime scene” was under control, even though it wasn’t? You sure would remember that if Barack Obama was a Republican, because the media would be busy stitching together montages of all the false Administration claims and comparing them to Hicks’ testimony from yesterday.
The media would also be returning to specific data about the Benghazi aftermath and the early days of the Administration cover-up, rather than relying on everyone’s vague memories of chaos, created in no small part by the media’s insistence on protecting Obama’s campaign narrative instead of questioning it. In October 2012, the McClatchy News Service put together a timeline of the Administration’s shifting story on Benghazi, and noted that we didn’t really start hearing about the “video protest” fairy tale in a big way until three days after the attack. Try to square that with Hicks’ testimony about the night of the attack, and the complete absence of evidence pointing to a spontaneous protest.
It took Team Obama a couple of days to calculate the political ramifications of the attack, and realize that voters would ask all sorts of inconvenient questions about how that part of Libya degenerated into a terrorist hotbed despite Obama’s boasts of having beaten al-Qaeda into submission, or why our Ambassador was sent into such a dangerous area without protection or contingency plans. It was deemed essential to portray the attack as a completely unpredictable event that no one could possibly have prepared for. Hicks and his people in Libya hadn’t made such political calculations – that’s why they were “stunned” and felt their “jaws drop” when they watched U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice trot onto the Sunday shows to blather about a spontaneous protest that never happened.
In the Mirror Universe where this is a Republican scandal, you can bet your bottom dollar that the media would never have stopped asking why Stevens was so poorly defended, and why there was no plan in place to mount an effective rescue operation. Instead, they let Obama apologists get away with talking as if they knew exactly how long the attack would last – as if the terrorists had politely requested a permit for their assault from American authorities, specifying exactly when they would be packing up their precision mortars and heading home – so it was reasonable to tell our military forces to stand down. Forget it, fellas, this thing’s gonna be wrapped up in a couple of hours. Some of those mortars are rentals, and the al-Qaeda organizers don’t want to lose their deposit by returning them to Achmed’s Spontaneous Video Protest Supply House late.
As Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) – the man our “transparent” Administration works very hard to keep away from anybody who knows anything damaging – asked yesterday, why weren’t there fighters ready to fly, and tankers available, to provide worst-case protection for the Ambassador sent into a terrorist hot zone? In the Mirror Universe, the media asked that question long before he did.
There’s no way the media would accept the Obama Administration’s patented “Incompetence Defense” from a Republican team. But they seem to have a bottomless appetite for hearing Democrat officials claim they can’t be held responsible for their words, or the actions of their subordinates, because they don’t read their mail, don’t pay attention at briefings (or, in President Obama’s case, don’t bother to attend briefings) and have no idea what their departments are up to. They swallowed this greasy pile of malarkey from Attorney General Eric Holder, when he claimed he had no idea his Justice Department was running thousands of guns into Mexico, recovering them only when Mexican authorities collected the weapons from blood-splattered crime scenes.
Now they’re swallowing it from Hillary Clinton’s defenders, even though Gregory Hicks clearly testified that he gave her important details about the attack at 2 AM the following morning, and was subsequently cut out of the loop as those notorious Benghazi talking points were crafted. Even if you’re willing to believe Clinton didn’t give the order to leave Hicks out in the cold, are we supposed to believe she didn’t even remember the guy? While the Obama crew was working up its talking points, the Secretary of State didn’t say, “Let’s bring the Libyan chief of mission in on this – I talked to him right after the attack, and he seems like he knows what’s going on?” And it’s okay with everyone that the SecState forgets details like that?
No one will say where the “stand down” order originated. Top Administration officials are allowed to claim they had no idea consulate security was gutted before the Benghazi attack, despite a disturbing pattern of escalating violence. The talking points appear to have edited themselves. Nobody read those cables from Ambassador Stevens requesting additional protection. Back in October, to square away some inconvenient things he said during his debate with Paul Ryan, Vice President Joe Biden actually tried claiming he and Barack Obama aren’t really part of the “White House” in an operational sense, and that’s why they didn’t know anything about Stevens’ pleas for more security.
Does anyone really believe the media would uncritically accept the Incompetence Defense, over and over again, from a Republican administration? Of course not. The “dog ate my homework” jokes would be a staple of late-night comedy. Every single statement uttered by the likes of Obama, Biden, and Clinton would be exhumed and compared in detail with yesterday’s testimony. In fact, since they already had some idea of what Hicks was going to say, the press would have been prepared to do this in real time. When partisan congressional Republicans at the Mirror Universe hearings peddled their absurd claim that they weren’t allowed to participate in the Benghazi investigation, or had no time to prepare, they would have been laughed off the national stage – no Incompetence Defense would be permitted for them, either.
Above all, a Republican administration’s claims of “transparency” would lie in ruins after yesterday’s hearings. That’s an incontrovertible conclusion for anyone who paid the slightest attention to the testimony. There were very specific allegations about Administration interference with congressional investigations, and no one has attempted to refute them. There is no way to square this whistleblower testimony with the notion of an honest White House and Secretary of State working with Congress and keeping the American people informed. That would be a huge story for the media today, if they were not primarily interested in ignoring all that bombshell testimony, so they can push the Obama-approved line that Benghazi is old news. Just try to imagine them performing such a service for a Republican president.