This morning on her CNN show, Soledad O’Brien had Rudy Giuliani on to discuss the Obama administration’s response to the Benghazi attack. Giuliani, without asserting surely that there was a “cover up,” repeated the sensible point that, if the CIA had made the president aware of prior attacks in Benghazi, on the U.S. consulate and the British mission nearby, then the Obama administration’s assertions about the attack were substantially more suspect. In response, O’Brien played a clip of Matthew Dowd, a Bush-administration strategist, in which he asserts that the “false assumption” undergirding the U.S. invasion of Iraq, that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, was the official intelligence estimate for years before being corrected.
In response, Giuliani made a quip, and this happened (see 2:15):
In her tizzy, O’Brien complains that “every time I ask you a question, you like to push back as if somehow the question that’s being posed to you is unfair. It’s not. I’m a journalist!” Except that, in this case, per usual, Soledad is not being a journalist, but a partisan trying to push a particular narrative under the guise of keeping her guest honest.
While Giuliani was attempting to make a good point of his own, O’Brien was eager to introduce a separate and tangential point, the idea that one cannot reasonably expect a perfectly accurate intelligence estimate within weeks of an event. That, of course, is not what Giuliani was suggesting. O’Brien defends her raising Dowd’s argument by claiming it was a “similar situation,” but it’s clearly not: The Iraq intelligence was difficult to resolve quickly because the final conclusion was a negative (the weapons we thought Hussein had, he didn’t have). The Obama administration, on the other hand, related a negative conclusion to the American people, saying that they had no reason to believe the Benghazi attack was preplanned, ignoring facts like the ones Giuliani raised. Insisting on relating a distorted version of someone else’s words under the guise of discussion in order to deflect good questions about presidential malfeasance, is, in fact, not fair or journalistic.