In an appearance on Fox News a few weeks back, Lynne Cheney spun a theory as to why Monica Lewinsky had come out with an essay in Vanity Fair reminding everyone of her involvement with the Clintons. Cheney said: “I really wonder if this isn’t an effort on the Clintons’ part to get that story out of the way. Would Vanity Fair publish anything about Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton didn’t want in Vanity Fair?” Laura Ingraham, subbing in for Bill O’Reilly on Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” found that theory fascinating.
Clinton knows that such inanities are allowed, if not encouraged, to propagate themselves on the airwaves of Fox News. It’s not the most hospitable of media destinations for the likely pretty-much-inevitable 2016 presidential candidate. Perhaps the former secretary of state figures that the best way to ensure her perspective is represented on Fox News is to state it herself. On June 17, Fox News will air a sitdown with Clinton and anchors Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren; it’ll span the respective programs of those two — from 6:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. The interview is significant for Fox News, a right-leaning outfit whose reputation as a news provider rests on its continued ability to get very important Democrats to take a seat on its sets. Not only do such events keep the network in the mainstream, but they feed the networks news shows for days — or, in the case of Bill O’Reilly’s sessions with President Obama, forever.
Let’s not overhype this particular “get,” though, because Clinton has a book — “Hard Choices” — to promote these days.
The hard choices facing Baier and Van Susteren relate to how they can possibly corner Clinton on Benghazi. The attacks that killed four American personnel on Sept. 11, 2012, are certain to headline the interview even though they took place nearly two years ago; Clinton took responsibility for the breakdown; and numerous congressional committees have investigated/are still investigating the tragedy. Another thing: In January 2013, just as Clinton was leaving her job as secretary of state, she gave extended testimony before House and Senate committees on Benghazi. Lawmakers failed to mar her perhaps temporary exit from public service.
Following those hearings, we compiled a categorization of some of the questions; as we wrote then, many of those queries Clinton faced were “laughably easy.” Summing up the unsatisfying sessions, Baier himself cited on Fox News “frustration that there was a lot of grandstanding and not a lot of pointed questions….Capitol Hill doesn’t seem to want to pursue it.”
Now the anchor has his chance to show up all those feckless legislators. Expect a grilling of Clinton on just why it was then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and not Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who explained Benghazi on the Sept. 16 Sunday politics shows, not to mention some drilling on just how Clinton coordinated with the Pentagon concerning the response to the attacks. As for the perfect gotcha question, well, Baier, Van Susteren & Co. have a few weeks to formulate it.
As to the merit of the right’s continuing emphasis on Benghazi, Clinton has made her views known. In a recent chat with ABC News’s Robin Roberts, she said that a select congressional committee on Benghazi didn’t have much in the way of raison d’etre: “Of course, there are a lot of reasons why — despite all the hearings (and) all the information that’s been provided — some choose not to be satisfied. That’s their choice and I do not believe there is any reason for it to continue in this way. But they get to call the shots in this Congress.” Clinton’s appearance alongside Baier and Van Susteren has almost the feel of a housekeeping item for the former secretary of state: If she can conquer the beasts of Benghazi in their own lair, perhaps people will start shutting up about it.