May
02
2014

Bill O'Reilly and Benghazi: He Gets One Thing Right

O'Reilly Benghazi There are plenty of people in the media who seem to think that the latest revelations in the never-ending Benghazi scandal are really crucial, finally pinning the Obama administration down for sending out bogus talking points.

The so-called "smoking gun" email does no such thing (FAIR Blog, 5/1/14). But leave it to Fox host Bill O'Reilly to completely exaggerate and misrepresent the story. Here's how he kicked off his April 30 show:

Well, now we know now there is no question that the White House misrepresented the terror attack on September 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya.

How does the email in question show that? It doesn't. But O'Reilly seems to think otherwise. He plays a clip of national security adviser Susan Rice saying, right after the attacks, that they appeared to have been a protest responding to a notorious anti-Muslim video.

In O'Reilly's mind, the newly released email shows otherwise:

The watchdog group Judicial Watch released the damning truth…. A memo written by senior White House adviser Ben Rhodes dated September 14 says that Ms. Rice was prepped to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video and not a broader failure of policy." Again, that despite CIA people in Libya and, perhaps, Defense Secretary Panetta telling the president and the White House the video had little to do with the murders.

But as has been pretty well documented, there was plenty of first-hand information linking the Benghazi attack to protests over the video (FAIR Blog, 10/17/12). The memo reiterated that view, and Rice repeated as much on television. In context, the reference in the Rhodes memo to "these protests" clearly is not limited to Libya, but includes ongoing violent protests in places like Egypt and Yemen, where no one has questioned that hostilities were sparked by the video.

O'Reilly scorched the media for missing the supposedly damning new revelations–singling out USA Today for getting it right (which, as Jim Naureckas shows, it did not). "Only USA Today was honest and responsible, putting the Benghazi e-mail story on the front page," he said.

O'Reilly finished by saying this is "proof the American press is dishonest–period."

He's got a point. His segment proved that at least one person in the press is really dishonest.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.