Conservative Republican propagandists worked in an orchestrated fashion yesterday to paint a Benghazi narrative for the media that Hillary Clinton is a Very Bad Cover Up Artist.
NBC’s First Read reported (my bold):
Key parts of the conservative movement are turning their attention from President Obama to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I find it stunning that four and a half months after the attack, Secretary Clinton still has the gall to say it wasn’t us,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said at yesterday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Added Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): “Tell me, who is Cheryl Mills?… She is the fixture for the secretary of state; she is as close as you can get to Secretary Clinton.” In addition, for the first time since Feb. 2008 (when Obama overtook Hillary in the Democratic presidential contest), Republican groups inundated our inboxes with emails about Clinton. The GOP oppo organization American Rising: “Benghazi Hearing Raises Serious Questions About Clinton.” The Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads: “Hicks told Clinton at 2am it was terrorism.” Here was Citizens United’s David Bossie (who was behind the “Hillary: The Movie”): “The Need For A Select Committee Is More Evident Than Ever.” And Drudge’s front page for most of yesterday looked like a time warp to when the Clintons were the constant focus of conservative attacks.
Okay, so the usual posse of GOP propagandists are suddenly and pointedly trying to make Benghazi into something that will hurt Clinton. That should get the alarm bells ringing.
The media often fails to look at the overarching, pattern even when it’s a repeat, as this one is. But First Read does acknowledge the years of Clinton attacks. They acknowledge that Republicans shifted their focus from Obama to Clinton for political reasons, en masse, and clearly pre-orchestrated, but there is not a peep about Republicans defunding state security. Maybe that is because Democrats aren’t engaging in an orchestrated propaganda-steeped campaign to awaken the media to facts.
Anotehr big clue is that Republicans are busy having their PR arm of Fox News push their “this isn’t politically motivated” message. Watch them move the goal post (via Media Matters):
KILMEADE: [A]nyone who says this is politically driven, or it’s against the president, that’s out the window. Because if there’s a non-political season in this world in American politics, it’s now. The mid-terms aren’t close —
STEVE DOOCY [co-host]: Sure.
KILMEADE: And the president is not running. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/7/13, via Media Matters]
Yes, Kilmeade, that’s right, because it wouldn’t be about 2016. And the sudden shift that was obvious days ago to Hillary Clinton in light of her excellent poll numbers doesn’t mean a thing. It’s not like Republicans are desperate to get something to smear Hillary with since none of their other smears worked. That’s 15 plus years of dedication to smearing Hillary down the drain if they can’t make Benghazi stick before she runs in 2016.
Here’s an impressive fallacy:
BOLTON: I’d have to say for the good of the country, I hope it is a cover up rather than the alternative, which is the Obama administration was so blind to the reality of the threat of Islamic terrorism, the continued threat from Al Qaeda… If that’s the problem there’s no cure for it. If it was merely a political cover-up then there can be a political cost to pay. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 5/6/13, via Media Matters]
Let’s see. Bolton is suggesting that your choices are either 1) Obama doesn’t understand terrorism even though he got Bin Laden when Bush couldn’t or didn’t care to or 2) it’s a cover up and therefore, there can be a “political cost to pay.”
Gosh, what do you suppose is the political cost to pay? Gee, Obama is already in office for his second term… They’re not smearing Congressional Democrats, so it’s not 2014. They are pointing their fingers at the one Democrat who polls way ahead of any of their candidates. This is hard.
And then there’s the behind the scenes push from propagandists:
The lawyers claiming to represent some of the witnesses at the Benghazi hearing, Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, are long-time Republicans known for pushing false claims in the media and for having conflicts of interest in their professional work. They have both served as advisors to Republican candidates and donated thousands of dollars to GOP candidates and causes, and have been criticized for a conflict of interest for serving in a dual role in separate Justice Department investigations and for dropping “the air of impartiality, non-partisanship, and professionalism required” by their roles as leaders of a congressional investigation. [Media Matters, 4/30/13; 5/6/13]
So, we have Republican activists as lawyers for the alleged “witnesses”. We have Fox News doing their part to light the runway to the “right” opinion given the fallacious choices presented, and we have GOP operatives and dirty money pushing the narrative to the media in a coordinated attack. The Republican’s Benghazi Dreams just jumped the shark.
The Republicans know how to play to the media’s dumbed down version of lazy truth telling: Report what both sides say, find truth in both so you appear unbiased, and declare DC a mess. In the meantime, the Republicans’ exceptionally partisan, political agenda is being activated at warp speed, and no one ever asks them why they can’t compete based on ideas — why they spend all of their energy drumming up accusations against their opponents instead of coming up with a few good ideas to present the American people.
In case you were wondering when the media is going to wise up to Republican witch hunts as the little boys who cried wolf one too many times, the answer is no time soon. The Benghazi witch hunt is obviously politically motivated, and if that were ever in doubt, the mass email campaign by the GOP propagandists put the last doubt to rest. The loud and obvious denials at Fox are just the cherry on top.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.