There has been a curious lack of curiosity among the media about the chain of events that left an American consulate largely undefended in a terrorist attack, resulting in the death of four Americans, despite a number of military resources at hand. Does this equate to a cover-up by the national media, or at least cooperation on their part with the Obama administration to avoid answering questions about it?
Deborah Saunders, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, finds the lack of interest in this story very, er, interesting. She argues that this isn’t a total media blackout by any means, but implies that the aversion to this story has a lot to do with the party affiliation of the President:
Some readers tell me that they see The Chronicle’s failure to run a rash of front-page stories as proof of bias. They have a point, but they fail to appreciate the local emphasis in today’s front-page placement, especially during a presidential election and World Series, which the Giants, incidentally, won 4-zip.
Most important is the resources issue. Most dailies don’t have foreign bureaus or reporters with the sources needed to break this type of story. “I don’t think there’s a bias issue, but we do have to rely on our primary news services,” Chronicle Editor Ward H. Bushee told me.
That doesn’t let the media off the hook. Saunders notes some very troubling information that has come to light in the last few days — through some good work at Fox News, among others — but which haven’t prompted much coverage or follow-up elsewhere. And if this had happened in a Republican administration, Saunders argues, we’d be seeing a much different response from the media:
On Friday, correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that sources told her that a CIA team, including Tyrone Woods who also died in Benghazi, had requested military backup during the attack but was told to “stand down.” The CIA dismissed the story as “inaccurate.”
A drone was deployed over Benghazi during an attack that lasted about seven hours. Yet, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that he hadn’t known enough about what was happening in real time to authorize a military rescue.
The Chronicle’s most recent story on Benghazi ran on Oct. 25. It reported that on Sept. 11, the State Department e-mailed the White House that Ansar al-Shariah had claimed responsibility for the attack. That would be shortly after 6 p.m. Eastern time. What did Obama know that night, when did he know it and what did he do about it? Ditto Langley and the Pentagon.
Now ask yourself this: If George W. Bush were president, and the press didn’t know what he did on the evening of the Benghazi attack, do you think there would be the same focus in the media? I think we know the answer.