When we write the history of this election campaign, there will be a lot of pointing the fingers at those in the legacy media who failed to do their jobs and inform their viewers/readers about the Benghazi debacle – which, yes, is a big deal.
When the Benghazi issue did surface, other than on Fox, it was invariably brought up by Republican guests, and then deflected by the hosts, who largely ignored new stories this week that implicated the White House in the decision not to intervene to save the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and other American staff.
Here is how the Sunday shows covered the issue:
NBC: Meet the Press with David Gregory
The Benghazi issue was not raised at all, save by panelist Carly Fiorina, who was interrupted by Gregory. He promised, “We’ll get to that a little bit later,” but did not return to the issue before the show’s end. (The show was interrupted in some markets, in the final minute, with breaking news about Hurricane Sandy.)
ABC: This Week with George Stephanopoulos
The Benghazi issue was raised by Newt Gingrich, in response to a question about the Romney campaign’s prospects in Ohio. Stephanopoulos failed to ask a follow-up and steered the conversation back to polls.
CNN: State of the Union with Candy Crowley
The Benghazi issue was raised twice, once by Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus in response to a question about U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s views on abortion, and once by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in response to a question about whether Romney would win the state in November. Crowley did not raise the issue independently in a show largely focused on polls and voting.
CBS: Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer
The Benghazi issue was raised in an exchange between Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff. After McCain brought up the issue, Schieffer asked a follow-up question about whether the administration had engaged in a “deliberate cover-up.” McCain said it had either been a cover-up or “the worst kind of incompetence.” Schieffer responded with another question about whether drones had produced images of the attacks. Emanuel responded with the Obama campaign’s standard talking points, and Schieffer followed up with a question about what he would have done in the White House. Emanuel ducked the question, instead praising Obama’s foreign policy record in general.
FOX: Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace
The Benghazi issue was first raised by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) in describing issues of concern to Wisconsin voters. Wallace replied that he had planned to address the issue later, which he did, addressing questions to Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) about recent revelations. Warner responded by expressing sympathy with the families of the dead and wounded and promised: “We’re going to get to the bottom of this. The intelligence is going to hold hearings when we return, right after the election.” He added that the situation had “been politicized,” criticizing Romney in particular. Wallace countered that the issue was a legitimate topic of political discussion. He followed up with questions about whether drones flying over Benghazi were armed, and Sen. Udall repeatedly refused to answer directly, saying that he could not comment further. Wallace also later made the issue the primary focus of the show’s subsequent panel discussion.