Gregory Hicks
Benghazi whistleblower Gregory Hicks (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

Benghazi rhetoric has occasionally stretched the limits of the reasonable. There have been Watergate references. At least one Iran-contra reference. And one senator has invoked ‘the I-word’ in relation to the consequences for President Obama.

All of the foregoing is mild when compared to the language of Fox News national security analyst K.T. McFarland. In a talk this morning with Gregg Jarrett on “America’s Newsroom,” McFarland said the following:

At the end of the day, what happened? Four Americans died. Why did they die? Because the administration had an election to win and they didn’t want to have to own up to fact that maybe it was their mistakes that caused those deaths. At the end of the day, they traded lives for votes. And that to me, what does it matter? It sure does matter. And it matters not just to the people who are the loved ones, the aggrieved ones of those men who died, but as our policy going forward, if you don’t try to rescue Americans who are in danger, what good is it?

Bold text added to highlight a twilight zone. It’s possible that McFarland used extreme wording to articulate an argument commonly traded around Washington these days: that is, the Obama administration lied about what led to the deaths of four Americans so that it could skate to reelection. After hyping its success in combating terrorism over nearly four years, the administration just couldn’t tell its constituents the truth about Libya.

Yet there are factual and logical issues with McFarland’s language. Facts first. Regarding the charge that the administration didn’t “own up” to its responsibilities on account of political considerations, both President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted responsibility for the breakdowns. Here are the words chosen by the president: “I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home,” he said.

Nor did he whisper that message; it came out of a nationally televised debate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Now for the logic. In declaring that Americans died in Benghazi “because the administration had an election to win” and that it traded “lives for votes,” McFarland appears to suggest that the Obama White House somehow benefited politically from Benghazi — that its support would surge if only it sacrificed some U.S. diplomats in Libya.

McFarland should familiarize herself with the thrust of the Fox News critique of the White House vis-a-vis Benghazi. It’s that the administration attempted to cover up the truth of Benghazi — a straight-up terrorist attack — because it would hamper its political fortunes. No one, save McFarland, has alleged that the Obama people “traded lives for votes.” On most other networks, such offensive stupidities would earn a rebuke and perhaps exile. At Fox News, we’ll see McFarland again shortly.

A point of context here on McFarland: She’s the central character in a bona fide Fox News scandal. As detailed in a story by The Post’s Bob Woodward, McFarland served as an envoy to Gen. David Petraeus on behalf of Fox News boss Roger Ailes. The message? Please run against President Obama if you’re not chosen as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On most other networks, someone who played a role in recruiting opposition to the president wouldn’t be allowed to serve as a commentator about the president.

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