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Gazette Premium Content EDITORIAL: Media give the White House yet another pass on Benghazi

The Gazette editorial Published: May 4, 2014

A smoking-gun email indicates a possible White House ploy to deceive Americans about the lethal attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. But few know much about it because mainstream national media organizations have down-played the story. The memo is noticeably absent from the front pages of American newspapers and evening news reports.

Thursday evening, reports the Media Research Center, ABC was the only of the big-three broadcast news networks to even mention a congressional hearing that day on the email. CBS and NBC completely ignored the topic. ABC gave it 46 seconds, which was half the coverage afforded to U.S. Olympic speedskating suits.

Other media organizations were more interested in the drug habits of a Canadian mayor than a White House email relating to a terrorist attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others.

At issue is an email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. Dated Sept. 14, 2012, the email was sent three days after the attack and titled "PREP CALL with Susan; Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET".

The email included instructions from a ranking White House aide to former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, who was to appear on multiple Sunday talk shows the following day to discuss the attacks. Written by Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, the memo set forth communication "goals" that included:

- "To underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."

- "To reinforce the President and Administration's strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges."

The Internet video tale has long since been disproved. The email provides the first indication that political considerations, not merely intelligence concerns, drove the false narrative.

The memo makes clear that Rice was to place political considerations ahead of all else as the president headed toward his November re-election.

Several Gazette readers, who have written in to comment about the media's apparent disinterest in the Benghazi development, say the possible deception campaign reminds them of Watergate. Though that scandal had no direct link to anyone's death, it was a media story for the ages and rightly so.

"I lived through the Watergate era and see shadows of it happening again but this time it seems Woodward and Bernstein are helping Nixon avoid detection," wrote Howard A. Wilson.

The Benghazi scandal may or may not have as many sinister elements as Watergate. We may never know because one thing is clear: The mainstream media - more specifically, those who cover the White House - have no real interest in looking for and reporting the truth of this story. They'd like it to just go away, even though the four who died will forever remain dead. A majority in the trade have no desire to scrutinize President Barack Obama and have given him an ongoing pass enjoyed by few, if any, of his predecessors.

President Obama heads an entire branch of the United States government. Yes, he's a likeable man. Yes, he's articulate and intelligent. And, yes, he's the country's first black president - a laudable accomplishment all by itself.

But our president is arguably the most powerful man in the world and should be treated as such. The decisions he makes sometimes determine whether innocent Americans live or die. In Benghazi, Americans died. We need the media to find and report the entire story in an effort to find out why.

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