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Fox News and the Politics of Hurricane Obama

| November 4, 2012

On Fox News, that’s the American consulate in Benghazi. (EPA)

Watching CNN coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath I felt at times as if I was immersed in one of those Hollywood disaster movies showing Manhattan flattened or submerged. Except that it was all real, affecting millions of people all over the Northeast as no disaster has in memory.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive.com flaglerlive When I’d turn on Fox News, it was as if I was in a different country. The only subject day after day, once Sandy had moved four inches inland, was Benghazi and Libya and President Obama’s alleged cover-up, as if Sandy’s wreckage and the dozens of deaths it left behind were a sideshow.

You could hear the word Benghazi on Fox with the same frequency that you could hear the names Bill Ayres or Jeremiah Wright four years ago, when Fox was trying to smear Obama by association. Naturally, we didn’t hear those two names mentioned once after Obama was elected. Fox had tried to do what it does best: invent a diversion, a bogus scandal in hopes of scoring just enough points to sway the election. But the diversion was hollow at its core, a Swiftboating that sank before it could shove off the dock.

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Just as the Benghazi diversion is today. The problem for its choreographers of scandal is that the Benghazi attack is not the colossal failure of policy that Fox and talk radio’s lineup of equally level-headed, rational, compassionate and entirely non-partisan talking heads are making it out to be.

There’s no need to minimize the Benghazi fiasco. It was a terrorist attack on an American target in what used to be the single most hostile country to the United States for much of the last 40 years. The response may not have been handled as well as it could have. But it was likely more level-headed than any Delta Force hysterics that wish away whirls of angry Arabs with a few trigger-happy soldiers and a rain of cruise missiles. The Chuck Norris era of American foreign policy is over.

David Ignatius, a liberal Washington Post columnist, raised the toughest questions about Benghazi. But after the CIA issued a detailed timeline of the attack, his conclusion summed it up this way: “While there were multiple errors that led to the final tragedy, there’s no evidence that the White House or CIA leadership deliberately delayed or impeded rescue efforts.” The CIA, let’s not forget, is led by David Petraeus, George W. Bush’s commander of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan before Obama appointed him CIA director. If something went wrong in Benghazi, it’s mostly on Petraeus’s head. That should be no surprise: Petraeus’s legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan is mostly ash and memories of bluster wrapped in words like “surge” and “counterinsurgency” that left insurgents laughing and biding their time. They’re still laughing in Benghazi.


But let’s not exaggerate Benghazi, either. We have some history to go by. This was nothing like the entirely preventable terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983 that killed 63 people and wiped out America’s CIA operations in the region for years to come. (An attack Ignatius covered for the Wall Street Journal and memorably retold in Agents of Innocence, his novelization of the limits of intelligence against militant Islamist terrorists). Or the equally preventable attack just months later that killed the 251 Marines in Beirut, as they slept, even though the Reagan administration had been amply warned, not least by the attack on the embassy, that the neighborhood had become a tad unsafe for a useless mission. And what did Ronald Reagan get for those twin massacres of Americans on his watch? He got reelected with acclamation.

If Obama is re-elected, it won’t be by acclamation. He’s not as good a teller of fairy tales as Ronald Reagan was, and nowhere near the slithering chameleon Mitt Romney is. But Benghazi will join Bill Ayres and Jeremiah Wright in Fox’s morgue of duds, while Fox itself returns to its regular programming. That happens to be a replay of the same political disaster movie it’s been playing over and over for the past five years, ever since Hurricane Obama appeared on the scene.

That’s coverage I’ll be happy to see on Fox over the next four years, considering the truly cataclysmic alternative.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him on Twitter.

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36 Responses for “Fox News and the Politics of Hurricane Obama”

  1. Pierre Tristam says:

    Your literacy skills may need a check-up at the nearest Jiffy Lube if you think I carry water for this president, or anyone else I might write about. But since the piece has let loose the anonymous Fox-trotters, it may be worth restating its points, even though the CIA has gone blue in the face trying to ridicule the notion of a cover-up (then again, anything the CIA says is by definition a verbal hall of mirrors): The Benghazi coverage was worse than a distraction. It was bloody expediency: a news network making political fodder of four deaths it wouldn’t otherwise give a flying flip about, anymore than it’s given a flying flip about the 30 Americans who’ve been killed in Afghanistan since the Benghazi attack—or for that matter the 2,146 who’ve been killed there for absolutely no purpose whatsoever. And that’s just half the waste of the Iraqi carnage. Obama’s idiotic Afghan “surge” that merely extended the killings and his murderous drone campaign in Afghanistan are far more scandalous policy decisions—all in the open: no cover-up necessary—than anything he did or did not do in Benghazi. But he got a pass on that. Anyway, the same network (and its legions of self-deluding groupies) that gave Bush a pass for his Katrina-like stupor in the weeks ahead of the mass killings of 9/11, then cheerlead the bloodletting of thousands more through the Bush years’ two wars, is now pretending to decry the killing of a couple of CIA and security operatives, and one ambassador, and trotting out their parents like mercenary hacks warmed over from Swiftboat stagecraft. So it goes in the alternate universe of bullies, slanderers and fabulists who think every day is Halloween, when they get to pose as moralists. Excuse me if I don’t bite. My dentures aren’t that fancy. Of course voting is absolutely the best revenge—revenge for the lies and hypocrisies of a Romney smear-and-pivot machine that made Bush look like a Nixonian amateur in comparison. But every nation has its Ebolas. Fox is ours, and lucky for it there are enough vaccine deniers to keep its contagions in business.

       18 likes

  2. "My Daily Rant" says:

    Theres a good reason FOX NEWS is the MOST WATCHED news station.Four Americans killed on our embassy property and obama does nothing.I think the weakest of our Presidents like Carter,and a screw up like Clinton would have reacted differently.As for Sandy just a good photo op for Obama,yes he showed up for pictures left then nothing.Now look at some other news stations like CNN, Candy Crowley out right LIED during Presidental debate.MSNBC well they seem to fire a so called news caster every month,They dont report the news they give their opinion,I for one dont really care about the opinion of a Lesbian,a guy who cheated on his poor wife,an Immergrant telling us about how bad our country is, it makes me sick.Well were stuck with this useless President for 4 more lets see what kind of damage he will do this time, and maybe he will let George B

       1 likes

    • "My Daily Rant" says:

      as I was saying maybe Obama will let George Bush off the hook after he has been President for so many years.

         0 likes

  3. Lonewolf says:

    Oh come on we all know it should be called “Republican News”

       0 likes

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