Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

New York Times’ reporter Mark Landler pens a ludicrous piece on why conservatives treat State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland differently than Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice with regard to the Benghazi, Libya,  debacle. Instead of going to one of the conservative commentators who has made the distinction, he goes to non-conservative Aaron David Miller who chalks the whole thing up to — you guessed it — Republicans playing politics. (“Susan fits the Republican anti-Obama narrative; Toria does not.”) From Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) he extracted something rather mushy: “She told me her pushback was to try to protect the State Department from, in her view, unfair blame.”

I’ll relate the real answer, since I am one of those who has not lumped the two women into one basket. The shorter answer: Rice told a big fat untruth (at best was hamming up talking points to show what a good foot soldier she was) on national television, and Nuland never related any false information to the public. (And by the way, plenty of conservatives are still confused and continue to unfairly tar Nuland. Mr. Landler should read some conservative media.)

The longer version goes like this: Nuland in a Sept. 12 background briefing told reporters the accurate account of the Benghazi attacks (going as far as she was able in calling it a “complex” attack, in contrast to the hooey about a spontaneous demonstration). No mention was made of the demonstration because there was none. When she got the talking points on Sept. 14 she was savvy enough to know it was nonsense. She knew there had been no demonstration, she spotted the false “warning” CIA said it gave to cover its rear-end on Benghazi (it never did) and she questioned why they were mentioning al -Qaeda when an investigation was ongoing and State had not been cleared to release that information. In other words, she refused to sign off on false talking points and kicked it to her superiors.

It is noteworthy that earlier in the day on Sept. 14 she adamantly refused to spout the false narrative from the briefing podium (unlike Jay Carney, who went with the video narrative, denying there was evidence of a planned terrorist attack.)

Contrast that with Rice, who got the talking points and went beyond them to riff on the anti-Muslim video. Was she intentionally misleading or vamping to score brownie points with the White House? If she is required to testify under oath, we might find out.

So the reason that some — not all — conservatives have treated these two figures differently is because one honestly served the American people and the other didn’t.