The press and Clinton critics talk past each other on new Benghazi report
There are gobs of damning new information in the report of the Republican majority that investigated the 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, the panel on Fox News' daily "Outnumbered" assured viewers Tuesday morning.
Hillary Clinton's actions were "borderline criminal," intoned Fox panelist Pete Snyder. Others seated nearby called the then-Secretary of State's actions "outrageous" and "disturbing," as the chyron read, "BENGHAZI REPORT FAULTS CLINTON, OBAMA FOR PUSHING FALSE NARRATIVE ABOUT VIDEO."
But a decidedly alternative reality was found elsewhere, whether it was about an anti-Muslim video first cited as a catalyst by the White House or any number of other matters.
For The Washington Post, the House Republicans' report offered "no new evidence of specific wrongdoing by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton." It didn't buy the majority's own press release that said its analysis "'fundamentally changes the public’s understanding of the 2012 terrorist attacks that killed four Americans,' including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens."
"Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead," concluded The New York Times.
It was thus clear as mud as to whether the eighth full-scale report on the incident would lay matters to rest. The early Vegas line might be that it certainly will not, whatever the facts. This is an election year and Republican nominee-to-be Donald Trump will surely keep hammering away at Clinton's role.
But it was notable that the rhetoric by GOP committee members diverged when it came to Clinton. Mike Pompeo of Kansas called her role "morally reprehensible," but Chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a onetime prosecutor, didn't go that far. He even told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that the report "was really not about her."
Pompeo and Jim Jordan of Ohio didn't agree and issued their own de facto dissent from the handiwork of their majority colleagues.
There were many other elements that he did feel the report encompassed, including the slow actions of the U.S. military and even a member of the Joints Chiefs of Staff missing a seemingly important White House meeting because he was hosting a dinner.
Mitchell had earlier asked congressional reporter Luke Russert what was actually new. He found a certain Washington dynamic at play, namely a bureaucratic mess at the time, lots of real time doubts and second-guessing about possible actions and a window onto the poor jobs done in securing the safety of Stevens and the compound.
CNN, too, found "no revelations likely to further damage Hillary Clinton." But the notion of only incremental new insights didn't fit with the long-standing Fox take on the incident and might presage at a conclusion that the whole matter isn't really concluded, at least as a political issue that is embedded in the free-floating animus toward Clinton.
Its website's version opened, "A damning report authored by the Republican-led House committee probing the Benghazi terror attacks faulted the Obama administration for a range of missteps before, during and after the fatal 2012 attacks — saying top administration officials huddled to craft their public response while military assets waited hours to deploy to Libya."