I'm not sure what else Rep. Adam Smith expected to hear from host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday this weekend, since his network has been in full fake Benghazi outrage mode ever since the attacks in Libya, and taking the insanity to new heights ever since ABC helped legitimize the witch hunt last week -- but I was glad to see Wallace get some push back for continually parroting the GOP's talking points.
Wallace's response to some of Smith's criticisms was to say "I'm not a potted plant." That's always the case when he has a Democrat on the air. Every once in a while he decides to stop acting like one when a Republican is on.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) tore into Fox News’ Chris Wallace and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) for obsessing over the talking points U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used when talking to the media in the days following the attack in Benghazi, Libya rather than focusing on identifying the perpetrators of the killings. “I think the desire of the Republicans to create a scandal here has really undermined any ability to have a credible look at what actually happened,” Smith said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday alongside Rogers.
While acknowledging that the administration’s initial assessment of Bengazi did not reflect what officials later learned about the incident, Smith criticized Fox for suggesting that that Rice’s remarks on five Sunday news shows presented a definitive picture of the events of Sep. 11, 2012.
“[The administration] didn’t reach conclusions the way you just presented that was that by the Sunday afterwards that the administration said here is what happened, here is our conclusion,” Smith explained. “But the president never said, no terrorism, no Al Qaeda. There was a dispute about how soon to lead to specific conclusions that now is being made into Watergate and Iran-Contra.” Read on...
As they went onto explain, President Obama and Hillary Clinton did describe the attacks as terrorism. For anyone having trouble keeping track of the latest round of lies, Media Matters has updates here: The Truth About The Right's Latest Benghazi Attacks .
As Smith rightfully noted during his interview, it would be a lot more productive if they focused on what actually happened and finding those that perpetrated the attacks, rather than debating how a memo was put together. Instead, now it's not just Fox, but all of our corporate media has decided to turn this into the next big "scandal." It's disgusting to watch to put it mildly.
Transcript via Fox below the fold.
WALLACE: Congressman Smith, you contradicted the administration's talking points even before Susan Rice went out on September 16th. In fact, on September 14th, here is what you said, "Mobs don't come in and attack guns blazing. I think there is a growing consensus it was preplanned."
So let me ask you the same question. After this week's revelations, did the Obama administration mislead the American people?
REP. ADAM SMITH, D-WASH.: I really don't think so. I think when you look at what was said in totality in that week, they didn't reach conclusions. The way you just presented that was that by the Sunday afterwards, that the administration said here is what happened, here is our conclusion.
Look, the day after the attack, the president called it a terrorist attack. Susan Rice, in those interviews on Sunday, described violent extremist elements who took over the attack.
So I really think that this is -- this has just become a very, very partisan-focused, scandal-focused attack by the Republicans investigating this. Instead of trying to figure out exactly what happened, the most interesting question to me is who are these violent extremist elements? I know Mike has done a ton of work on the Intel Committee -- as Al Qaeda has metastasized beyond just what was in Pakistan and Yemen.
There's a whole bunch of groups out there. We don't have as much information as we need to about which one threatened us. I think that's what led to Benghazi as much as anything.
But the president never said, no terrorism, no Al Qaeda. There was a dispute about how soon to lead to specific conclusions that now is being made into Watergate and Iran-Contra. I think the desire of the Republicans to create a scandal here has really undermined any ability to have a credible look at what actually happened.
WALLACE: Well, Congressman Smith, let me push back on you on several of those points. We now know --
SMITH: I'm not surprised, but go ahead.
WALLACE: Well, that is what I'm here for, sir. I'm not a potted plant. I'm here to ask some questions. We now know that there were 11 different versions of the talking points, 11 different versions --
SMITH: I thought (ph) it was (ph) twelve.
WALLACE: May I just please go ahead?
In the 24 hours before Ambassador Rice went on the Sunday talk shows, a dozen versions in all. We now know that Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson for the State Department demanded all references to Al Qaeda links, and all references to earlier warnings for months from the CIA be deleted.
Here is what the White House spokesman Jay Carney told the media, told the country last November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: The White House and State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of these two institutions changing the word "consulate" to "diplomatic facility", because consulate was inaccurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman, that's not the truth. That wasn't the only change that the White House and the State Department made.
SMITH: Well, look, there was unquestionably a dispute, as you said in the opening, between the CIA and the State Department on exactly what to put into this statement. Now, who changed what when, the dispute is clear. The dispute was how soon to leap to the conclusion about specific groups being involved in this.
WALLACE: Simple question -- if I may, sir.
WALLACE: Simple question. Was Jay Carney telling the truth on November when he said the State Department and the White House made one stylistic change? Was that the truth or not?
SMITH: I don't know specifically who Jay Carney was referring to.
WALLACE: He said the White House and the State Department. It seems pretty self-evident.
SMITH: Well, yes, but I don't know specifically which person he was talking to.
Look, clearly, there were more changes made than his statement made. What Jay Carney knew about who made those at that particular moment? But, again, we're talking about talking points. There was no question this was a terrorist attack. They didn't deny it.
I would much rather get into investigation of the groups that threatened the U.S., how we can figure out who they are, and how we can stop them instead of debating how one memo was put together in the immediate days after the attack.