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Fox News, Benghazi and President Reagan

By       Message Walter Uhler     Permalink
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The dumbing down, amnesia, and animosity fostered by Fox News is especially evident when it comes to the four Americans killed during a terrorist assault on the U. S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. I've written elsewhere about the despicable politicization of the attack by mendacious Mitt Romney and his partisans. But the reporting from Fox has been even worse.

Do you remember how the clowns at Fox stewed after President Obama and then Candy Crowley put Mitt Romney in his place after Romney falsely accused Obama of waiting twelve days before calling Benghazi a terrorist attack? Do you remember Fox's much ado about nothing -- given the fog of war -- concerning Ambassador Rice's early emphasis on the role played by an anti-Muslim video? Have you seen the commentators at Fox who claim that "Benghazi-gate" is worse that Watergate? Have you heard their assertions that the mainstream media has failed to adequately cover Benghazi?

Did your read how Sean Hannity turned a Fox News report by Jennifer Griffin -- about the video broadcast capability of surveillance drones over Benghazi -- into an allegation that the "State Department watched [the attack] in real-time?" On October 31st, Hannity told Newt Gingrich, "We know that according to Charlene Lamb, our State Department was watching this in real time."

The implication, of course, was: "How could anyone watch this assault in real time and do nothing to stop it!" Of course, as usual, Hannity was spewing bullshit. "There was never any real-time video of this early portion of the Benghazi hostilities. No one in Washington -- State Department, White House, whatever -- was watching live feeds of the gate-crashing." [Erik Wemple, Washington Post Nov. 9] In fact, Charlene Lamb told Congress that she was getting updates "almost in real time." By telephone, not video.

In direct rebuttal to Fox's mantra that the Obama administration failed to respond adequately to the attack, the Los Angeles Times reported: ""At every level in the chain of command, from senior officials in Libya to the most senior officials in Washington, everyone was fully engaged in trying to provide whatever help they could,' a senior intelligence official said in a statement."

That statement directly contradicts Fox's false assertion that Obama made "no decision to do anything to rescue' Americans in Benghazi, "which allowed' them to be killed. So does Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's claim that the U.S. military "did everything they were in position to do."

Proving that Fox News misinforms and lies is like shooting fish in a barrel. Unashamed, it no doubt will move on to "investigate," in its own unique way, the Petraeus scandal, especially the statement about Benghazi that his mistress, Paula Broadwell, made at the University of Denver.

However, criticizing Fox's mendacity does not mean that Congress should not investigate what happened at Benghazi. It should. But, we also need historical context, which neither Fox nor Congress is likely to provide.

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For example, an Associated Press article, dated September 25, 1984, makes the supposed negligence of the Obama administration appear to be a mere trifle when compared to the gross negligence of the Reagan administration.

On September 25, 1984, the Associated Press reported that, "House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., said Monday the nation has had enough of President Reagan's "phony alibis and lame excuses' for the deaths of Americans in Lebanon and several congressional committees will try to get some "truthful answers.'"

"Going beyond harsh criticism that began last week after a suicide truck bombing outside the U.S. Embassy annex in an east Beirut suburb, O'Neill, D-Mass., said: "I have been in contact with the (House) Intelligence Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary to get to the bottom of how this tragedy could happen in the same manner in the same city, three times in 18 months."

Yes, that's right. For perspective on Benghazi, reporters at (and viewers of) Fox News would do well to recall that the bombing that occurred on September 20, 1984, "in which two Americans were among at least nine people killed, was similar to a blast that demolished the U.S. Embassy in west Beirut on April 18, 1983, killing more than 60 people, and a bombing that leveled a U.S. Marine headquarters building last Oct. 23, killing 241 American serviceman."

More than 300 people lost their lives, due to terrorist attacks in Beirut during Reagan's watch. Was the Reagan administration negligent? Was President Reagan directly responsible for those deaths? Was he "soft" on terrorism?

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But if we are discussing gross negligence, then Reagan's gross negligence appears to be a trifle, when compared with the gross negligence of the Bush/Cheney regime. After all, they ignored intelligence reports that should have prompted urgent efforts to prevent the al Qaeda terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11.

The reporters and commentators at Fox News, as well as their poorly educated white viewers, should keep this historical context in mind. For, as Cicero wrote: "To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain always a child."

Educated Americans are watching and you are not acquitting yourselves well.

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)

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