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The Gowdy committee: Get ready for months of partisan brawling over Benghazi

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Jon Stewart to Megyn: Nothing personal 

The Gowdy committee: Get ready for months of partisan brawling over Benghazi 

Trey Gowdy, the Republican congressman named to head the House select committee on Benghazi, was striking the right note.

Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether lawmakers should avoid raising money off the congressional investigation, Gowdy said: “Yes, and I will cite myself as an example. I have never sought to raise a single penny on the backs of four murdered Americans.

"Even in a culture of hyper-partisanship, certain things…ought to be above politics, like the murder of our four fellow Americans, and whether or not you can trust what any administration – Republican or Democrat – tells you in the aftermath of a tragedy.”

But as the Huffington Post points out, the National Republican Congressional Committee had just sent out a fundraising appeal that said those contributing up to $500 could be called a “Benghazi Watchdog”:

"A new Select Committee headed by South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy and appointed with special powers by Speaker John Boehner will begin a thorough investigation of what happened that night.”

Is there any way at this point to separate the probe from the political posturing surrounding the midterm elections? Sure doesn’t look that way at this point.

Here’s liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent reporting:

“The head of the campaign arm for House Democrats privately advised Dem lawmakers today that they should boycott the House GOP select committee on Benghazi, arguing that participating would legitimize a proceeding that voters already know is a partisan witchhunt.”

Instead, his source quoted Steve Israel as saying, the probe “has become a Republican political strategy meant to raise money and excite their base.” 

Hillary Clinton, who will likely be subpoenaed by the new panel, told ABC's Robin Roberts that "some choose not to be satisfied" and continue to investigate Benghazi, but "I do not see any reason for it." 

What we have here is a failure to see the world the same way.

A year and a half after the tragic attack that killed four Americans, one side is shouting coverup and the other is screaming witchhunt. When the Republicans announced plans for the special committee, the Democratic reaction was: Really? After all these hearings? Well, we may not play.

The Democrats’ warning about boycotting the committee quickly faded, but then they demanded equal representation on the committee. Except Congress doesn’t work that way. The fabled Senate Watergate committee had more Ds than Rs — even after Howard Baker asked Sam Ervin for an equal number of slots--because the Democrats controlled the Senate.

The White House has also been trying to discredit the probe in advance. Jay Carney said the other day that the special panel is “so partisan in nature,” adding: “There is a problem when you have so many conspiracy theories that get knocked down by the facts and yet, the adherents to those theories only become more convinced that the facts aren’t what they so clearly are.”

John McCain, in turn, unloaded on Carney for arguing that the recently released Ben Rhodes e-mail, which dealt with the notorious Susan Rice talking points, was not about Benghazi.

“He has destroyed his own reputation by that statement that clearly was the talking points, which had nothing to do but Benghazi, saying it had nothing to do with Benghazi,” the Arizona senator said on Fox. “That, to me, is an all-time low for a presidential spokesperson.” 

What about the media? Fox News covers Benghazi a great deal. Much of the media considers it a hyped-up story. MSNBC’s attitude toward the story was captured in an on-screen banner I saw: “BENGHAZZZZI.”

The spotlight now falls on Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor. (Duty requires me to report that one of the most popular Google searches is Trey Gowdy hair.)

The congressman has strong feelings about Benghazi and the way it’s been covered, ripping a New York Times piece that found no links to Al Qaeda .

“I have read this New York Times article, Dana, six times. I want you to read it six times and tell me if you can tell who the secretary of state was when Benghazi happened,” he told Fox’s Dana Perino. “Because her name wasn't mentioned a single solitary time in this exhaustive New York Times piece. Not once…That couldn't possibly have been their motivation, would it be, to support a Democrat who was running for the White House? Oh, heavens, no.”

This will not fade anytime soon. In the MSNBC interview, Gowdy was asked how long the investigation would last.

“It would be shame on us if we intentionally dragged this out for political expediency,” he said. “On the other hand, if an administration is slow-walking document production, I can’t end a trial simply because the defense won’t cooperate.”

I won’t be surprised if this committee is in business for a good long time—and if its Democratic members are denouncing its work every step of the way.

Jon Stewart to Megyn: Nothing personal

Jon Stewart has a heart.

He delights in making fun of Fox. And in an interview with Reuters, Megyn Kelly reveals that she once got a call from the fake newsman:

“Stewart doesn't bother me as much as he used to. He used to do these segments on me all the time, and then one day on the air I said he was mean and then he called me up, and we had an hour-long talk. He explained that he didn't mean to be mean and that he does satire and that he claimed I was 'one of the three journalists he respects.'

“I said, 'Well, it sounds like you're looking for absolution, and I'm not giving it.' We had a good laugh. He was very good-natured. But I understand what he does.”

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Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.