I have not yet seen “13 Hours,” the Michael Bay film about Benghazi that hit theaters last Friday, so I can’t tell you whether it’s any good. But I can tell you that it’s not the anti-Hillary Clinton documentary some conservative media types are making it out to be.
I know this because it’s not a documentary at all. It’s a thriller, a drama. It might be very true-to-life, but it’s not some kind of 144-minute, journalistic exposé about the Democratic presidential front-runner’s shortcomings as secretary of state.
And yet, some in the conservative press are touting the movie as required viewing for anyone who wants to learn “the truth” about the 2012 attack on an American consulate in Libya.
“It’s an indictment. It’s an out-and-out indictment,” conservative radio host Glenn Beck said on his show last week, according to his news site, the Blaze. “This is one of the first movies I’ve seen that I believe every American should have to watch.”
The Breitbart website said “13 Hours” “not only tells the truth, it finally honors the six incredible Americans whose self-sacrifice and heroism saved more than two dozen American lives — Americans left to die by a secretary of state and sitting president more concerned with politics than with protecting or rescuing the men and women they ordered into harm’s way.”
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump was so sure that “13 Hours” would deliver a blow to Clinton that he rented a cinema in Iowa on Friday night so that people could see it for free. His state co-chair explained that “Mr. Trump would like all Americans to know the truth about what happened at Benghazi.”
On “The Five” on Fox News Channel on Tuesday, co-hosts Eric Bolling, Greg Gutfield and Juan Williams got into a civil disagreement when Bolling suggested that liberals are actually the ones who introduced the idea of “13 Hours” as a political statement because “they were worried it would be too honest, too sincere and too documentary-like.”
WILLIAMS: Wait a second. The left introduced politics? Funny, I mean my experience of it is that the right made it out [that] everybody should go see this film because then you will be more aware of Benghazi and the failures, and it was supposed to be an indictment of Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.
GUTFELD: But Juan, don’t you think that conservatives, we are just desperate for finding an objective film about history that’s not Oliver Stone, that’s not Michael Moore? Does it hurt that we’re grateful?
WILLIAMS: No, I would appreciate it. This is not a documentary. Let me just tell you.
Keep in mind that Clinton’s name isn’t even mentioned in the film. By all accounts, “13 Hours” doesn’t do her any favors, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a takedown, either. In an interview on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Tuesday night, Bay, the director, emphasized that the movie is not a political statement.
“Here’s the thing,” he said. “The politics got in the way of this great human story that happened. And this is really to honor these type of men that do this every day — that put themselves in harm’s way. That’s what this movie is about.”
None of this is to say that Clinton doesn’t deserve scrutiny for what happened in Libya four years ago; she does. But let’s not foist the responsibility for that scrutiny onto a flick starring the guy from “The Office.”