Hillary Clinton torpedoes Hannity: ‘There was no real time’ video

January 23, 2013
Fire at U.S. Consulate in Benghazi
The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is in flames during a Sept. 11 protest (Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters)

He said it on Dec. 19. He said it on Nov. 27. He said it on Nov. 26. He said it on Nov. 16. He said it on Nov. 7, Nov. 2, Oct. 31, Oct. 30, and probably plenty of other times as well.

We’re talking about famous Fox News host Sean Hannity and the notion that the State Department was watching the Sept. 11 attack on the Benghazi diplomatic compound in “real time.” A sampling from the Nov. 16 edition of “Hannity,” featuring guests Rep. Mike Conaway and Oliver North:

HANNITY: And if the State Department is now saying they never believed that this attack on the 11th of September against the U.S. consulate was a film protest gone awry, think about it — then, it’s nearly impossible to believe that President Obama didn’t know. Oh, and did I mention the State Department was watching this unfold in Real Time?

The Erik Wemple Blog wrote on Nov. 9 that the claim appeared to be bunk: A State Department official denied that anyone in the department saw any part of the evening on “real-time” video. Nor was there even the technical capability of beaming the video of the initial attack to other parts of the world, per this explanation from an administration official:

The Benghazi compound had a CCTV [closed-circuit television] system. Meaning, a system of cameras on the compound. Those cameras could be monitored from the [Tactical Operations Center, TOC], which is one of the structures on the compound.. . . Those images could not be seen anywhere outside the TOC, let alone outside Benghazi. The footage from those cameras is recorded and stored for a period. The footage from the attack was not in USG [U.S. government] hands until later in September.

In today’s testimony before a House committee, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked point-blank about all of this video business. She said, “There was no monitor, there was no real time.”

That’s not to say that the State Department wasn’t getting real-time updates on the situation at the Benghazi compound. Indeed, it was. But they were coming via telephone, not “real-time video.”

Clinton’s disavowal of real-time video was strong, airtight and in no way sufficient to ever supplant the notion that top State officials grabbed a bag of popcorn and kicked back with some Benghazi TV.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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Erik Wemple | January 23, 2013