Faking the News: The Benghazi Emails Scandal

Benghazi: Not your usual humor site ‘fake news’ — instead, national network fake news

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News
Show us the emails! Here, take another look!

The strangest thing about the public release on May 15 of 100 or so emails relating to Benghazi talking points was that the White House had already made these same emails available to Congress roughly two months earlier.

Boardman: ‘If the White House showed the 100 pages of emails to Congress last winter, why didn’t that put the Benghazi ‘scandal’ to rest?’ (photo: unknown)

But they weren’t the same emails, were they?

Well, yes, apparently they were exactly the same emails. But the White House didn’t release them, it just gave a few congresspeople a chance to look at them. But the emails weren’t classified, congresspeople were free to talk about them if they had any problems with then.

But didn’t the emails tell pretty much the same story last winter as they do this spring?

Yes, they tell exactly the same story – the same sloppy, confusing, bureaucratic mishmash of a story featuring a mud-wrestling match between the CIA and the State Department over who would be set up to be the fall guy for four dead Americans in Benghazi. Of course that wasn’t the story Republicans were looking for.

But if that’s the true story, isn’t that the story news media were looking for? Apparently not, since it’s not a very exciting story, especially during an election season that needed all the excitement it could get, no matter how artificial.

But if the White House showed the 100 pages of emails to Congress last winter, why didn’t that put the Benghazi “scandal” to rest?

Well, you seem to be assuming that Congresspersons – or most of their staff – bothered to read the emails. A hundred pages is a lot, and that cuts into fundraising time. Some in Congress were just too busy even to attend the briefing on the emails.

One Email Asked: Why Are We Even Writing Talking Points?

OK, I understand why Republicans aren’t interested in reading information that undermines their most cherished fantasies, but what about Democrats, why didn’t they play whistleblower and tell the truth?

You’re still assuming someone’s going to attend a briefing or read a hundred pages of six-month-old emails. Failing to master the core evidence is a bi-partisan skill. Besides, how many Democrats do you think there are who want to be seen defending President Obama?

So that circumstance makes it easy for some partisan staffer to say he’s read the Benghazi emails and then make up the contents he wants reported?

Exactly, that’s what someone did to ABC News – and ABC, hungry for a scoop, ran the story with no confirmation of the accuracy of the handwritten notes from its only source, who was anonymous. They called it a “smoking gun.”

Didn’t ABC News report that it had seen the original email?

ABC News did say that. It wasn’t true. And they didn’t run it by the White House or anyone else in the administration.

Doesn’t all that violate basic rules of traditional journalism?

Yes. Your point would be?

Don’t they have editors to prevent that sort of thing?

I have no information on that.

It Seems That Fake Email Wasn’t the Same as the Real One

But didn’t ABC apologize for that when CNN exposed their “smoking gun” as neither a gun nor smoking?

Not exactly. Unless you call what Jonathan Karl wrote, acknowledging that CNN published the correct email, an apology: “This helps fill out the portrait of the inter-agency deliberations that went into shaping the now-discredited talking points. Assuming, as appears to be the case based on time stamps, that this is a version of the same e-mail ABC News reported on last week, there are some differences.”

That’s true, isn’t it? Aren’t there differences between his fake email and CNN’s real one?

Yes, and he ignores most of those differences – for example, he doesn’t mention that the original email says, “There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed.”

Isn’t that kind of shifting the blame, when the government itself has the right information?

Well, parts of the government had some information, other parts had other information, and the Benghazi emails were all about trying to get the government’s parts to agree on what information to make public, while protecting those who needed protecting, like the CIA and FBI. Everyone in government knew it was a mess – a mess with the CIA in the middle of it – they were all just trying to make sure it was someone else’s mess.

So they made it the president’s mess?

That’s life – the president runs the government, or the government runs him, it’s an endless struggle. And news media feed the fight – here’s Karl again: “The White House could still clear up this confusion by releasing the full e-mail transcripts that were provided for brief review by a select number of members of Congress earlier this year. If there’s no ‘there’ there, as President Obama himself claimed yesterday, a full release should help his case.”

OK, so the White House released the 100 emails to the public and that should be the end of the Benghazi “scandal?”

You might think so, but I’m not sure why. There are five different Congressional Republican committee chairs planning hearings. And over at ABC News, Jonathan Karl is still acting as if they had it right all along: “The emails confirm the ABC News report that the so-called ‘talking points’ written by the CIA on the attack underwent extensive revisions – 12 versions – and that substantial changes were made after the State Department expressed concerns.”

But that’s the State Department, they can’t impeach State, can they?

Yes and no. This all happened on Hillary Clinton’s watch, so Republicans figure if they can do her enough political damage, she won’t run for president in 2016 – you could call it a kind of pre-impeachment.

Isn’t there anyone in Washington who deals their marked cards from the bottom of a full deck?


William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.