Folks at the State Department haven’t passed ignorant of one of the great journalism trends of recent years. The evidence thereof? Last night, the agency sent the Erik Wemple Blog something titled, “BENGHAZI ATTACK FACT CHECK.”
The document presented all kinds of pushback against various criticisms of the department’s — and the Obama administration’s — response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on a U.S. diplomatic installation in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four U.S. personnel, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Here’s one portion of the document, from a “State Department official”:
CLAIM: The Administration is stonewalling Congress.
The Department has demonstrated an unprecedented degree of cooperation with the Congress on this issue, taking part in eight hearings, over 20 inter-agency briefings for Members and staff, sharing the Classified ARB report, as well as more than 25,000 pages of documents with the oversight Committees, and responding to more than 100 letters and Questions for the Record.
Within the State Department alone, then-Secretary Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secretary Bill Burns, Deputy Secretary Tom Nides, and the Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy all testified before the Congress.
The Chair and Vice Chair of the ARB both provided in depth briefings for the SFRC and HFAC. It should also be noted that then-Secretary of Defense Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey testified before their oversight Committee on Benghazi.
Another “fact check” from a “State Department official”:
CLAIM: DOD forces were withdrawn from Benghazi prior to the attacks.
The DOD Site Security Team (SST) was based in Tripoli, not Benghazi – which is over 600 miles away. That’s about the distance between Richmond, VA and Chicago, IL. Members of the SST did occasionally visit Benghazi, but SST members spent only spent about two percent of their time in Benghazi during their deployment to Libya. The SST’s responsibilities were in Tripoli.
Good move by State to piggyback on all the credibility that journalism has built by unleashing fact-checkers on all kinds of political pronouncements.
How much credibility to place in the State Department’s blast of alleged truth-telling? That’ll take some sorting, as will the testimony of the whistleblowers who line up just moments from now at a hearing of the House oversight and government reform committee. What we can say definitively is that the whistleblowers and the oversight committee know media cycles. One example: the selectively leaked statements and allegations by the whistleblowers earlier this week – Fox News and CBS News published extensive stories on the allegations.
Those pieces gobbled up a chunk of media space early this week and prompted this State Department “fact-check.” Now comes the hearing, which surely will keep the story front and center for the balance of the week. Nice work.