Benghazi and the Fox News Effect

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Why has the shameful witch hunt against Susan Rice continued to gain traction even though there is literally not a shred of evidence that she did anything wrong? I’d say this Pew poll tells us all we need to know. The only segment of the country that really cares about the sham Benghazi scandal is Republicans, and the reason Republicans are riled up about it is because of Fox News. How far down the rabbit hole have they gone with their 24/7 hysteria? A friend who follows their coverage closely emailed a few days ago to tell me what it’s like these days: “Listening to Fox on this is like watching a Fellini movie.”

And while we’re on the subject: as they’ve started to lose traction on their more outré conspiracy theories (Obama watched the attack in real time, he ordered military troops not to intervene, he was blackmailing David Petraeus, etc.), Republicans have been reduced to blustering about their outrage that the intelligence community’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi has changed over time. There’s nothing especially scandalous about this, of course, since that’s pretty much what you’d expect to happen as they got more information. It’s not really clear why the mainstream media is paying any attention to this unusually lame complaint.

But my friend points out something that really can’t be emphasized enough: in fact, their explanations haven’t really changed all that much. “They still think protests against the video were part of this in various ways; they still don’t think al Qaeda or even meaningfully ‘al Qaeda-linked’ groups were involved, although perhaps an individual or two; and they still think this wasn’t ‘pre-planned’ to any significant degree. I’d say those initial talking points have held up remarkably well.” Given the usual fog surrounding events like this, I think that’s right. See Joe Klein for more on this.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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