Listen enough to NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd, and you may well conclude that Susan Rice’s withdrawal as a candidate for secretary of state is solely a matter of appearances. In an interview today with Martin Bashir on MSNBC, Todd first painted Rice’s disrupted ambitions as a matter of PR: “Susan Rice, because she’s not an elected official, doesn’t have her own consulting team around her, doesn’t have a full PR team, was more susceptible to…one story where she could become a victim of these attacks very quickly.”

UN Ambassador Susan Rice UN Ambassador Susan Rice (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Todd’s invocation of “these attacks” refers to Benghazi. Rice appeared on Sunday talk shows on Sept. 16 and gave consistent accounts of what precipitated the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi — accounts that made prominent mention of an anti-Muslim video.

Then, Todd says, she’s the victim of the conservative media. “It was all driven, in many cases, by some conservative outlets who were making her the center of the Benghazi story…the idea that she belonged in the center of those attacks never made any sense. She sort of became a victim of this.”

Some points:

  • Attributing someone’s failures to the absence of spin staff is monumental inside-the-Beltway groupthink. The Erik Wemple Blogger looks forward to availing himself of that excuse in the future.
  • Rice ended up in the “center of those attacks” because she came forward in multiple talk show appearances and gave the official line on Benghazi. That may not be just, but it’s far from nonsensical, as Todd argues.
  • The “conservative outlets” line of explanation suggests that Rice didn’t face any skepticism from non-conservative outlets. Such wasn’t quite the case.
  • The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote, “Even in a town that rewards sharp elbows and brusque personalities, Rice has managed to make an impressive array of enemies…” Maybe such a consideration could figure in Todd’s breakdown of Rice’s misfortunes?