Fox News has made the editorial decision to refuse air time for White House press conferences -- unless Benghazi™.
On Friday, President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a joint press conference from the White House Rose Garden, and the two world leaders had quite a bit of ground to cover. They fielded questions on the Ukrainian crisis, surveillance policies, and a variety of current events.
But Fox News wouldn’t show its viewers the press conference unless reporters asked about the Benghazi attack from nearly two years ago.
Today, something very similar happened.
It happened again on Monday, when Fox anchor Jon Scott promised to cover a White House presser if and only if the topic shifted to a House select committee on Benghazi, which will be headed up by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). With White House aide John Podesta delivering a presentation on energy and climate during the press briefing, Scott couldn’t hide his shock. “Jay Carney is normally at this podium. This is one of his understudies, you might say,” Scott said referring to Podesta, who is not actually one of Carney’s understudies.
This is getting a little weird.
Well, it's only weird if you think of Fox as a legit news entity pimping a legit story. Neither of those are true. Digby's piece in Salon today is pitch-perfect:
The point of this strategy isn’t to bring down a politician with one scandal although they’d be perfectly happy if it did. These are such small-bore narratives that they know it’s unlikely. No, the point is to create an atmosphere of scandal, a sense that something’s not right, even though the worst they can prove is that there was miscommunication or confusion. (That becomes part of the narrative as well — a sign of incompetence.) It’s all in service of manufacturing a sense among the people of “where there’s smoke there’s fire,” something into which anyone can be seduced when a byzantine, contentious scandal is in the news. Regular folks have better things to do than parse official statements or, frankly, even read long explanations by good clear-thinking journalists. (And let’s face it, if a scandal takes off, the ranks of good, clear-thinking journalists thin considerably.) If the scandal-mongers can keep it going long enough and can find enough hooks to reengage on a regular basis, it takes on a life of its own.
Benghazi!™ is about portraying the Obama administration as being wimpy on terrorism, of course. But think about that for a minute. The Obama administration is the one that killed bin Laden and is taking down terrorists — and anyone who might accidentally look like one, which is a whole other story — with drone strikes all over the Middle East and Africa. (It’s true that he’s failed to invade a random country just to prove America’s manhood, but he’s still got a couple of years.) The sad truth is that the Obama administration has made not one single move on terrorism with which the right would normally quarrel. But they simply cannot admit that this or one of their most important organizing principles is off the table: National security is as fundamental to them as low taxes and gun rights. If Democrats are not lily-livered cowards hiding beneath the camo-costumes of Real Americans, then they are missing a huge piece of their argument. So they’re doing what it takes: They’re making a national security scandal up out of whole cloth.
But this isn’t about Obama, not really. They have another Clinton to kick around and her involvement in Benghazi!™ as secretary of state gave them a perfect opportunity to dust off the old scandal sheet music and brush up on those old songs. They’re hoping that the mere sound of it will set off a Pavlovian reaction in independent voters and older Democrats who cringe at the prospect of a replay of the ’90s. And if the worst should happen and Clinton does get the nod, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. They will very likely control the House and we can expect to see many more “select committees” to investigate Republican hallucinations.
If it ain't Benghazi™ it ain't news. At least, if you're a cable channel parading as a news channel that's really just a Republican propaganda channel 24/7, that's true.