The AP & Benghazi stories are more abt media scandals than PBOThat's what I tweeted yesterday morning. I'd like to unpack that a bit with how some in the media have disgraced themselves over the last few days. What's really been going on with all of this scandal-fest is a conflation of right wing media, leftist extremists and the village idiots in Washington D.C.
— Smartypants (@Smartypants32) May 15, 2013
Let's take the whole Benghazi thing for a moment. This morning, Steve Benen rightly suggests that its time to put a fork in that one. But note the evolution of how this story reached the level of "scandal" in the first place.
...note that most sensible people realized the right's conspiracy theories were wrong, which is why the so-called "controversy" was relegated to Republican media, until last Friday's report from ABC News pushed the story into the mainstream. That ABC News report, we now know, was wrong.As Benen said, for months this "controversy" was relegated to right wing media sites. Weeks ago the White House had provided Congress with administration emails circulated just after the attack that discussed the talking points that could be shared with politicians and the media. None of the members of Congress expressed concern about what they saw.
Then someone leaked what appears to be summaries (not the actual emails) to Jonathan Karl of ABC News. Trouble is - those summaries implicated that the administration manipulated the facts and thus a firestorm about "cover-up" ensued. Many people assumed that this particular scandal now had legs.
But then the White House released the emails and what do you know? Those summaries handed to Karl were cooked to make the administration look bad. There's no "there" there in terms of cover-up. And so the real story is - who leaked that false summary to Jonathan Karl and why did he run with it without verification?
On the AP story, I wrote my thoughts about the media's complicity in that one the other day. Yesterday BooMan (who is one of the very best sources on the internet when it comes to the CIA), added some information. First, he quotes stories like this one from CNN.
Sources later told CNN that the operative who was supposed to have carried the bomb had been inserted into al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate by Saudi intelligence, and that the device had been handed over to U.S. analysts. One source said Saudi counterterrorism officials were upset that details of the operation had emerged in the United States because they had a network of agents inside the Yemeni branch who could have been compromised by leaks from Washington.And then he adds this commentary.
My best guess is that we (or the Saudis) had to remove a bunch of agents-in-place who were giving intelligence on AQAP and trying to help us catch the bomb maker...The idea of a "skunk" inside the tent trying to undermine the administration is exactly what I was referring to in my speculation the other day. The damage to U.S. relationships with Saudi (and British) counterterroism efforts as well as the network of agents working inside the Yemeni branch of AQAP is also probably what Eric Holder was referring to yesterday when he said:
No matter how you look at it, the administration hadn't done anything wrong.
But they did have a skunk inside the tent who was willing to create huge problems for political purposes in an election year. And they had the AP lapping it up and dishing it out.
Referring to the leaks of national security information, Holder said, "This was a very, very serious leak. I've been a prosecutor since 1976 -- and I have to say that this is among, if not the most serious, in the top two or three most serious leaks that I've ever seen. It put the American people at risk – and that is not hyperbole."And so the real story is that AP got played by a "skunk" who was trying to do political damage to the administration. And in doing so, they put both intelligence assets and our national security at risk.
That pretty much sums up the media complicity in these stories. But according to Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei at Politico, the real story here is how the Washington D.C. village has now turned on President Obama. Funny thing is - they don't even try to use the fabricated scandals to justify the impending war on the administration. No, its not because they are taking the moral high ground on any issues - its because the President hasn't played their little "insider's game" enough.
Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats. And the press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.So longtime Washingtonians need to be courted...that's the message. It's how low that fever swamp culture that is supposed to be protected by our first amendment has sunk. I'd simply remind folks that it is that same duo - Allen and Vandehei - who recently felt the need to pre-emptively knee-cap a forthcoming book that threatens to expose that very same fever swamp. Could this war on the administration they just declared be yet another attempt to insulate themselves and their buddies from those revelations? You bettcha!!!!!!
This White House’s instinctive petulance, arrogance and defensiveness have all worked to isolate Obama at a time when he most needs a support system...
“He has never taken the Democratic chairs up to Camp David to have a drink or to have a discussion,” the longtime Washingtonian said. “You gotta stroke people and talk to them. It’s like courting: You have to send flowers and candy and have surprises. It’s a constant process.
Finally, I'd like to suggest that the Allen's and Vandehei's of the world are not the sum total of the media. Thanks to the internet and social media, we're not dependent on them to shape the story. There are plenty of folks out there who haven't caught the fever of the swamp and are busy telling the real story. We just have to be smarter about who we listen to these days.