ABC News's Jonathan Karl and White House press secretary Jay Carney battled for more than eight minutes Wednesday over newly released documents detailing the White House's involvement in crafting incorrect talking points in the days after the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
The briefing room back and forth between Karl and Carney, antagonists inside the room and friends outside of it, comes a day after the release of a new round of e-mails written by the White House, the State Department, and intelligence officials in the days after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, were killed.
Conservatives say the new e-mails reinforce their claim that White House officials, seeking to protect President Obama less than two months before Election Day, portrayed the attacks as the result of spontaneous protests inspired by a video disparaging the prophet Muhammad. At the time, several U.S. missions across the Islamic world were besieged by demonstrators. The video was produced by a private company in the United States.
Carney said Wednesday the new e-mails, released under a Freedom of Information Act petition filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch, are not related directly to Benghazi but refer more broadly to the demonstrations then underway across the region.
Most attention has been focused on an e-mail written by Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, in which he recommends to then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice to emphasize the video as the source of the demonstrations, not “a failure of policy,” in a series of Sunday show appearances. Carney said Wednesday that this emphasis reflected the truth, even though the Benghazi attacks were later shown to involve the coordinated efforts of a group affiliated with al-Qaeda.
During the exchange, Carney challenged ABC News's previous reporting on the matter, citing a promo for Karl's own show that described multiple embassies being under attack at the time.
The above video was clipped by the Republican National Committee.