October 14 2012

New York Times: WHAT Benghazi Hearings?

Charlotte Hays

If you aren’t fed up enough at Obama campaign spokesman Stephanie Cutter and others accusing the Romney campaign of “politicizing” the terrorist attack in Libya, just read some of the testimony from last week’s congressional hearings on Libya.

What you realize immediately from the testimony is how absolutely terrifying it must have been to have been caught in that doomed compound. We knew that, of course, but the testimony brings it home.  

Charlene Lamb, a State Department official, said that she and others were talking to the people in the embassy as the attack unfolded. Lamb described how at 9:40 on the night of Sept. 11, “dozens of attackers” launched a full-scale attack that was “unprecedented in its size and intensity.” The attackers fired guns, set off a fire with diesel fuel, creating “debilitating smoke,” and broke into buildings, “ravaging” them.

All the buildings in the compound seem to have been enveloped in the smoke and violence. Three agents in an armored vehicle made it to the building where foreign service information officer Sean Smith was; they managed to get Smith out of the building. “Unfortunately, he was already deceased,” Ms. Lamb told Congress. Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty, both former Navy SEALs, were killed in mortar attacks. She describes U.S. officials searching for Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed.

In the light of this horrific reality, one might have thought the hearings would make it onto the front page of the New York Times. But of course, they didn't. Asked about this by the newspaper's public editor, New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson said that they hadn't put the hearings on the front page because Libya is being politicized. Well, so was Valerie Plame. But that didn't stop the Times from camping out at Scooter Libby's house, as Laura Ingraham recalled on Fox. 

In a column that has probably made her very unpopular around the office, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan listed the stories that editors deemed more important that day:

The six stories on The Times’s front page included one on affirmative action at universities, one on Lance Armstrong’s drug allegations, two related to the presidential election, one on taped phone calls at JPMorgan Chase, and one on a Tennessee woman who died of meningitis.

The major artwork on Page A1 was from Syria, and the only mention of the hearing on Libya came in a one-paragraph summary at the bottom, leading readers to a well-displayed story on Page A3.

I am not accusing Abramson of consciously trying to cover for the administration. Still, how could Charlene Lamb's riveting testimony not be on A-1, above the fold? Like Paul-Ryan-interrupting veep debate moderator Martha Raddatz, Abramson is a pillar of the MSM. The posh media and Democratic  officialdom are part of a small and clannish world (indeed, Clarice Feldman hilariously compares them to the incestuous, backwoods society depicted in Deliverance, only “with better teeth, clothes, and haircuts”). They don't really want to get to the bottum of what happened in Libya--at least, not too soon.

But the problem here is not the press—it’s the administration. Think what it felt like to be in that compound on Sept. 11. Doesn't the administration owe those people something more than stalling until the election is over? 

 

 

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