Published September 28, 2012
One Republican lawmaker calls it "Benghazi-gate." Others say Congress was misled, while raising the possibility of a cover-up at the highest levels.
But the media reaction to and coverage of the potential scandal regarding the Obama administration's changing narrative on the consulate attack in Libya has ranged wildly, from top-of-the-broadcast to back page.
Conservative media critics have described what amounts to an identity crisis of sorts, with networks hammering the issue on some shows and practically ignoring it on others. And while some publications are holding the administration's feet to the fire for initially claiming the attack was a protest gone out of control, others are downplaying the issue or chalking the squabble up to tawdry election-year politics.
An Associated Press article Thursday on Republican complaints about the administration's handling of Libya included this set-up:
"Desperate to reverse the apparent trajectory of the White House race, Republicans sense a political opportunity in Obama's reluctance to utter the words 'terrorist attack' as well as the varying explanations emerging from the administration about the assault in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans."
Democrats, though, have joined Republicans in raising critical questions about the attack and its aftermath. All members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday wrote to the State Department asking about security at U.S. diplomatic posts and the attacks themselves on U.S. offices in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.
"The media will continue to downplay or ignore altogether the burgeoning Libya scandal," conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote in The Washington Post, complaining that left-leaning pundits have gone "silent" on the issue.
Plenty of outlets and publications have started to hammer the administration's changing version of events, including The New York Times, CNN and The Daily Beast. But others are having a tougher time getting started.
The conservative Media Research Center noted that NBC's "Today" show on Monday included no mention of the developments on Libya despite highlighting an Obama campaign attack ad three times.
NewsBusters, part of the MRC, noted that the same show and ABC's "Good Morning America" as of Thursday hadn't specifically covered U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice's controversial comments in which she said two Sundays ago that the attack was "spontaneous."
The article said the evening programs, though, gave it far more attention, writing: "The ABC and NBC morning shows' omission of Rice stands in stark contrast to the two network's evening newscasts, which not only covered the U.N. ambassador's claims, but as well as subsequent developments."
Rice's comments, along with classified briefings given to members of Congress in the days following the attack, have raised concerns among lawmakers that they were misled.
"This is turning into something not short of Benghazi-gate," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told Fox News.
Obama officials, though, have said there was no attempt to mislead. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, asked how long it took to determine the attack was terrorism, said Thursday it "took a while to get some of the feedback from what exactly happened at that location."