Saturday, November 3, 2012

The curious silence of the American journalist

I don't usually post on the weekends, and I don't usually post something just to tell you to go and read the whole thing elsewhere.  I'm doing both tonight.

Two days ago, the Las Vegas Review-Journal broke the editorial and media near-silence surrounding the Benghazi attacks, and pointed a finger of blame directly at the Obama administration:
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in a well-planned military assault on their diplomatic mission in Benghazi seven weeks ago, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. So why are details surfacing, piecemeal, only now?

The Obama administration sat by doing nothing for seven hours that night, ignoring calls to dispatch help from our bases in Italy, less than two hours away. It has spent the past seven weeks stretching the story out, engaging in misdirection and deception involving supposed indigenous outrage over an obscure anti-Muslim video, confident that with the aid of a docile press corps this infamous climax to four years of misguided foreign policy can be swept under the rug, at least until after Tuesday's election.

Charles Woods, father of former Navy SEAL and Henderson resident Tyrone Woods, 41, says his son died slumped over his machine gun after he and fellow ex-SEAL Glen Doherty - not the two locals who were the only bodyguards Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration would authorize - held off the enemy for seven hours.

The Obama administration was warned. They received an embassy cable June 25 expressing concern over rising Islamic extremism in Benghazi, noting the black flag of al-Qaida "has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities." The Obama administration removed a well-armed, 16-member security detail from Libya in August, The Wall Street Journal reported last month, replacing it with a couple of locals. Mr. Stevens sent a cable Aug. 2 requesting 11 additional body guards, noting "Host nation security support is lacking and cannot be depended on," reports Peter Ferrara at But these requests were denied, officials testified before the House Oversight Committee earlier this month.

Based on documents released by the committee, on the day of the attack the Pentagon dispatched a drone with a video camera so everyone in Washington could see what was happening in real time. The drone documented no crowds protesting any video. But around 4 p.m. Washington received an email from the Benghazi mission saying it was under a military-style attack. The White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA were able to watch the live video feed. An email sent later that day reported "Ansar al-Sharia claims responsibility for Benghazi attack."
Do, do go and read the whole thing here.

Now tell me: if this were a Republican administration, would this courageous bit of journalism have happened only in a Las Vegas newspaper?  Wouldn't the New York Times be carrying even more scathing denunciations of the administration's actions that night and for the weeks following?  Wouldn't this editorial have been picked up by blogs and news feeds so that it was at the top of most Internet news services' lists of most-read pieces? Wouldn't the president be dogged on the campaign trail by outspoken journalists demanding the truth about Benghazi?  Wouldn't some bright reporter manage to film him or herself asking the potent question, "Mr. President, about the Benghazi attacks, what did you know, and when did you know it?"

I know that journalism standards are in free-fall (well, just read wire news stories and puzzle your way through the grammar).  I know that the image of a free press is eroding in a day and age when everybody knows that there is simply no diversity of thought in America's newsrooms, no matter how much diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation etc. there might be.  But this is disgraceful.  The American news media have proven by their curious silence in the face of one of the most shocking and outrageous news stories of the present day that they are not merely partisan; they are owned.  They are the pampered and beribboned lapdogs of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and will remain so as long as the occupant is someone of whom they approve with the whole hearts and the closed minds of sycophantic suck-ups and obsequious Obamaphiles for whom the president can do no wrong, not even when, in a less than optimal scene unfolding in screaming chaos half the world away, Americans died because no orders were given to come to their aid.


L. said...

Odd, I don't see any grammatical errors in my own wire's account:

I'm far away from Washington. But one thing I can confidently say is that every journalist I know personally, no matter which side of the political spectrum, would not hesitate to choose breaking a story over forwarding his/her personal views -- whether you choose to believe this or not.

L. said...

...and it looks as if lefty-leaning blogs/sites are in fact asking the questions, too:

L. said...

Hmmm, the websites of the major (non-Fox) networks appear to be asking the questions, too:

As I said, I am not in the U.S. and do not have any direct information on either Benghazi nor any specific coverage decisions. I am just saying that from way over here, I don't see anything like "editorial and media near-silence" -- quite the opposite.

(And I work for a wire in whose coverage grammatical errors are quite rare, and we aim to keep it that way!)

Erin Manning said...

Well, L., your assurances as to your wire service's grammatical correctness are appreciated.

I do see errors, but I'll be honest: Reuters is not often the service I view, because they are usually behind the others in terms of breaking news.

However, your examples of left-leaning blogs discussing Behghazi are just that: blogs. Appreciated, and all, but where is the coverage on major news networks? Where are the TV news specials? Where is the series of hard-hitting NYT articles and editorials?

So far: crickets. I expect it will remain that way until after November 6, too.

ElizabethK said...

You're right on, Red, and everybody who lives in this country and sees the difference between coverage of this administration and the last one knows it. L., things may seem to be a certain way from wherever you are, but I can assure that the people here who get their nightly news from the major outlets (and that's still a huge chuck of people) are getting silence to near silence on Benghazi.

L. said...

You see grammatical errors in the Reuters article? Just out of curiosity, where?
And as for being slow in breaking news, Reuters is a wire service, so all stories are transmitted first to subscribers rather than put on the company's website -- similar to AP, Bloomberg, etc.

Erin Manning said...

No, L., you misunderstood me. I frequently see grammatical errors on the websites I read, including those of newspapers which subscribe to some wire services. I'd have to check for certain, but I think that the AP is the service where I most often see such errors.

I don't like Reuters. I don't read Reuters. I don't subscribe to any Reuters newspapers. So I am not claiming to see errors there. They may be quite perfect, but to me, they are perfectly irrelevant, so their perfection and complete lack of partisan bias are things for which I will cheerfully take your word, as I have no plan to change my reading habits in order to verify your claims.

That clear enough?

L. said...

Reuters does not own newspapers -- it is a wire service (the world's largest, in fact) and I would be very surprised if the newspapers you DO read are not subscribers to it.

I honestly don't mean to argue here, I'm just explaining my job & employer, & what a news agency does:

Erin Manning said...

Yes, L., I appreciate your explanation and I do understand what Reuters is and does.

That said, the handful of actual newspapers I see online will have a story that will have the AP tag here and there, but the only times I see a Reuters-tagged article is if/when I go directly to a Reuters link that someone (say, a blogger) has posted.

In other words, I don't usually see, in the handful of newspapers I read, the following: CITY NAME (Reuters) Lorum ipsum etc. Does this mean that the newspapers I read only use the AP wire service and not Reuters, or does it mean that the paper uses Reuters in sections/articles I rarely read? I don't know, and have never been worried enough about it to find out.

The point is that my complaints about bias and grammar have to do with a) media sources which produce their own content (e.g., their own reporters and so forth) and b) at least the AP wire service as it's the one with which I am most familiar.

Since the discussion has progressed this far, can you share with me any links to Reuters wire services articles discussing the failure of the present administration in re: the Benghazi attacks? I would be most interested in reading them.

Barbara C. said...

If an attack of Americans happened with a delayed reaction of a Republican president then Michael Moore would put together some footage of the irrelevant things the president was doing when he should have been responding. Something tells that Obama won't get the same treatment.

L. said...

There's no way to send a link to a story that runs on a wire, but the main site has a lot of the coverage ( and you can see it by searching Benghazi. You can also do Google News searches for Reuters: Benghazi and see what comes up.

L. said...

Interesting -- the dead American mercenaries didn't even work for a U.S. company: