Sigh. Benghazi Again?

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I watched Lara Logan’s 60 Minutes report on Benghazi last night, and when it was over I had two thoughts:

  • That took a year of reporting?
  • Did you just outsource the whole script to the Republican National Committee?

Honestly, there was just nothing there. Andy Wood and Gregory Hicks have been peddling their stories for a long time, and Hicks in particular has some obvious credibility issues that Logan didn’t so much as hint at. Beyond those two interviews, there was one new thing: an interview with a British security officer who’s just written a book and said….pretty much nothing. Basically, he told Logan that when he first got there in 2012, he quickly figured out that Benghazi was dangerous and that al-Qaeda-affiliated groups were active in the area. But we learned this long ago. Nobody even remotely argues about it.

I’m stumped about what we were supposed to have learned from this report. Was security in Benghazi inadequate? Probably. But the State Department’s own report was scathing on that issue many months ago. Was the military response on the night of the attacks incompetent? That’s possible too, though considerably less clear cut. Logan acted as if this were a brand new question she was raising, but in fact the military has explained and defended its actions repeatedly in response to the endlessly evolving charges that they were ordered to “stand down” on the night of the attacks.

Finally, was there a scandal in the Obama administration’s response to Benghazi after the fact? Again, Logan tried to imply there might have been, but was content with making a couple of perfunctory drive-by potshots instead of actually addressing the controversy. There was absolutely nothing new on this score, and since it’s the only part of the story that remains controversial, it’s not at all clear what the point of the whole segment was. I learned nothing except for a very few details that color in what we already know. I don’t get it.

 

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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