Benghazi, Hillary 2016 and a Predictable Media

09 May 2013

Yesterday, Representative Darrell Issa led his Oversight Committee through hours of questioning of Benghazi whistleblowers with one goal in mind – to ruin any hope Hillary Clinton has of running in 2016.  It could be argued Issa was also aiming to take down the Obama administration, but from the Kabuki theatre offered by both parties, who posture on the floors of Congress only to pass legislation benefiting themselves and protecting their benefactors, with an already re-elected President Obama on board, I doubt he is their ultimate target.  Republicans have no one on the bench polling near Hillary, so they want to take her out early.

As to Benghazi reportage in the media, apart from notable exceptions like Sharyl Attkisson of CBS, few are straying from their respective reservations.  On one side, we have FOX News and Drudge Report, hammering every sound bite of the whistleblowers 24/7; every word a “smoking gun.”  Meanwhile, the bulk of the liberal-leaning mainstream media has offered defensive coverage hinting at a “witch hunt” and even the kook factor.

Congressman Issa does not help his cause by disingenuously holding up a cable that Hillary “signed,” knowing that thousands of cables coming from the State Department bear the word Clinton, whether or not she had anything to do with them.  The Washington Post gave Issa a “4 Pinocchio” rating for his trouble.  He also curries no favor by ignoring Ambassador Pickering, who chaired the Accountability Review Board and offered to testify at these new hearings.  Then again, the five minutes per person Q & A format is no more effective at these proceedings than they were during Secretary Clinton’s exhaustive testimony in January.

Hillary Clinton has already taken responsibility for what happened under her watch at the State Department.  It is interesting that when she tried to fall on her sword before the 2012 election, Republican Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte would have none of it, calling hers a “laudable gesture” but complaining that responsibility rested with the Obama administration. Even former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, along with past Head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, Republicans all, had defended her.  But with 2016 looming in the distance…

‘Hillary lied!’  ‘She doesn’t care about the four dead in Benghazi!’  She said, “What difference does it make!” It matters even less that this “quote” of hers has been truncated and misstated to misrepresent the intent of her larger statement.  Let’s leave that for the moment.  Ultimately the bumper stickers and subsequent hay the right will make out of her statement are not the issue.

Should we investigate?  Of course.  Will we ever get to the bottom of who knew what when and what the motives were?  Doubtful.  We will either be distracted with a new crisis or both sides will keep firing at one another while the public is far more concerned with pocketbook issues.  What should matter are the tragic murders of four Americans.  What does matter, fair or not, is how the largest number of media outlets spin this in the long term.  They say that he who loves the most wins.  In this case, they who have the most number of stories leaning in a certain direction most often dictate the way the country will react.

This has happened before.  It will happen again.

In the Presidential primaries of 2008, a swooning media fawned shamelessly over a man with two years tenure in the Senate and spent the live long day bashing his more capable and experienced opponent, Hillary Clinton using an arsenal of sex bias.  They neglected to analyze her better crafted policy prescriptions, instead painting her as shrew who hung out at round-the-world “tea parties.”  They got the desired result.

As a Hillary supporter, I knew for the first time what it felt like to be a Conservative.  The likes of Wapo’s Dana Milbank, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann painted people like me with the same filthy brush they used on her.  My protests for fair media coverage went unanswered.  I was invisible.

At the time, Republicans were more than happy to let it all happen though many like Senator Graham, oddly enough, now admit Hillary’s work ethic is second to none.  Looking back over these past four years, one wonders in hindsight if Republicans are still happy with the way Clinton or McCain/Palin were battered.

Old news?  Who cares about this now?  This matters for two reasons.

First, what’s past is prologue.

Second, FOX News, Drudge, HotAir, and Breitbart are far outnumbered by The New York Times/WaPo, CBS, NBC, ABC, Huffington Post and so on.  In other words, if FOX News says a tree fell in the woods and the bunch on the other side says “I didn’t hear anything” – then it did not happen.  Look at the “right wing entertainment complex” of 2012 to see how Romney voters were sold a bill of goods about his winning in a landslide if you don’t believe me.

And the kindly coverage Hillary Clinton received in 2012 from media outlets who earlier trashed her was to entice women voters, hoping her reflected glow would help the media win re-election for their favored son.  There was no sentiment involved.  Just business.

So for those looking ahead to 2016 who lament “remember her role in Benghazi,” this is what you should remember:  if the media once again decides to fall in love with a new “phenom,” they will be more than happy to join with FOX News and trash Hillary Clinton to keep her from the White House.  If our corporate-owned media decides she is “the one,” Benghazi too will be made into “nothing to see here, folks.”

But let’s follow the money.  President Obama was chosen in 2008 as the person with the most effective brand to sell us the rather unpalatable platter on which we have been dining these past four years.  If a corporate-owned media made sure Hillary didn’t get in last time, I would argue that no new love for her has been cultivated.  After all, it is easy for these outlets to praise her to serve their purposes now, when she is not running for anything.

The media picks our presidents.  They craft the narrative and drive it home with each story they report.  An exhausted public, scared and struggling, perhaps working several jobs if they are fortunate to be working at all, hasn’t the time to dig for the truth behind the spin.

Was there incompetence at senior staff levels and a lack of interagency communication or cooperation leading up to Benghazi?  Yes, which has been reported and admitted.  Were Ambassador Susan Rice’s Sunday talk show talking points in the run-up to the election nonsensical and deliberate?  Surely.  Could Republican denial of increased security funding have played a role?  We may never know.   Again, none of that matters in the larger scheme of things – horrid as that is.  What winds up mattering is the pabulum that we are fed daily.

Many seem to suffer from short memories, so I am challenging those who don’t to file this away for three years.  Come 2016, if Hillary Clinton indeed runs for the presidency and you see the self-same media outlets who now trumpet Hillary suddenly “remember” the horror of Benghazi and decide that she should be roasted over a spit for it, you’ll know that the other candidate is the one better willing to serve a corporate master – not her.

That should make voting interesting.


Anita Finlay is the author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin, a shocking exposé of media bias, now available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon.  #1 on Women in Politics books for 16 weeks.

Like Anita Finlay, Author on Facebook.

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  1. conner43 Says: May 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I have a slightly different take on this: Am reminded of the fact that Jarrett talked Obama out of the raid on OBL at least twice before she was finally overridden. It is useful to recognize that the Chicago gang is All politics All the time, and they are the real power in the country, Obama is just their very own Pinnochio.

    Hillary, apparently did lie about the ‘video’, and who knows why pleas for more security at Benghazi were denied. I suspect it was because Benghazi was, at bottom, a clandestine arms depot, funneling arms to the rebels in Syria through Turkey. This has become fairly obvious, after the fact..
    Since the rebels by then, had been shown to be connected to terrorism, this would not have gone over well with the voters.. We live in a world where the only choices are often Evil One or Evil Two, this is the new reality.
    So Hillary fell on her sword for Obama/Chicago..
    If there was self interest involved, {and there always is, with politicians, even Hillary} it may have been that she didn’t want her tenure as S of S allied with a one term pres., the race was still thought to be close at that time.

    Unless and until, the Committee starts talking to the Chicago cabal, who, imo, are the real villians here, this will remain bread and circuses for the plebes, most of whom have the attention span of gnats anyway.
    There remains no excuse for at least not making the appearance of an effort to save Americans, or for little security having been provided in such a dangerous place, but it seems those decisions were political, and not attributable to Hillary. After all, low level security people might have exposed the whole scheme. Even those who did survive Benghazi have melted into the woodwork.
    Once again, Hillary is abused by a very artful dodger.

  2. conner43 Says: May 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I agree with your take on the power of the media, but with WaPo, NYT, and others already on the ropes financially, in three more years they will be even more diminished. I do find it interesting that negative remarks about O are now getting through the filters at HuffPo..Leave it to Ms Huffington..she is a survivor, first and foremost. Even more suprising, Huff actually posted a piece recently that ‘Busy Mom and Fashion Icon’ MO, may not be all that chic, after all.
    How dare they ? One suspects Adrianna is now in the second tier on the gala circuit, next thing you know, they will make her sit with some nonentity like Ashley Banfield.

  3. Thanks for your comments, conner43. As I have noted elsewhere, loyalty is a double edged sword. Hillary suffers from the disease of loyalty. Something I understand all too well. If the talking points come out of the WH re this video, she may not tout it but she is not going to dispute it either. She did use the word terrorism in her first remarks but then the other nonsensical talking points came out. I am sure she refused to go on the Sunday shows because of that.

    Further, she is not the DoD, or the Secy of Defense, Joint Chiefs or the Pres — all the orders in this regard come from there — not the chief diplomat, as I understand it. But the Reps are far more interested in discrediting and disabling her than him. Both sides have lined their pockets just fine under his tenure. The divisions of haves and have notes have only become wider over the last 10 years.

  4. conner43 Says: May 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    The ‘loyalty’ factor you pointed out is very insightful..The admin. is now in the process of throwing Hillary under the bus, as evidenced by their continuing emphasis on the words “State Dept”.. It’s not personal, it’s just what they do.

    This could be very liberating for her. I am in hope that Bill will guide her in this, he has a lot of experience with snakes .

    Regardless of her ability to extricate herself from this, there may be a lot of Democrat fatigue three years from now, especially if the economy remains stagnant.. I wouldn’t bet the homestead on her running, at this point.

  5. No, you’re right about the fatigue. I would not bet the homestead on anything. We will know a lot more two years from now as to the conditions on the ground. But she has two things going for her. She has made herself a force to be reckoned with that to some degree transcends party and she has also had nothing to do with this domestic mess. No doubt Repubs are going to spend taxpayer money and it will be Benghazi 24/7/365 as long as they can drag it out. If I felt they really gave a damn, that would be different. But both parties do so much posturing, I don’t trust a one of them.

    Their brand is looking more and more damaged, however, and if they overplay their hand by attacking the one woman who had the guts to stand up and take responsibility, this may backfire on them.

    The other thing she has going for her is a changing demographic that right now, looks to benefit Dems and not Repubs.

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