The Campaign Spot

A Lying Administration’s Endless Benefit of the Doubt on Benghazi

From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

A Lying Administration’s Endless Benefit of the Doubt on Benghazi

Those who deny the existence of a widespread, deep-rooted liberal bias in most “mainstream” media institutions can and will point to periodic tough coverage of the Obama administration’s explanation on Benghazi.

We get lots of individual cases of this. CNN’s Jake Tapper will accuse Jay Carney of being “dissembling, obfuscating, and often, you know, insulting.” Ron Fournier of National Journal will declare that Carney reminds him of “Baghdad Bob.” ABC News’s Jonathan Karl will rip into him for giving false information during the briefing. CNN’s Dana Bash will point out that the administration is withholding documents from congressional subpoenas. Slate’s John Dickerson will state, matter-of-factly:

The Obama administration’s story has never been straight on the Benghazi attack. Press Secretary Jay Carney once said the White House and State Department had only been involved in changing one word in crafting the first public response about the attack — the infamous Susan Rice talking points. Emails released in May showed that wasn’t the case. This new batch underscores the White House’s involvement in shaping the story. The Obama administration left the impression that everything related to the Benghazi attack had been released to the investigating committees months ago. That is also clearly false.

White House defenses earned scores of Pinocchios, and fact-checkers have corrected the president repeatedly, again and again.

You would think this repeated mendacity, on topics ranging from keeping doctors to red lines, would add up; that the media would greet White House statements with increasing skepticism. You might think the coverage would characterize White House statements as assertions, not proven facts. The White House shifts to “trust us” quite a bit. Trust us, we’ve held everyone in our government responsible for security in Benghazi accountable. Trust us, we’ve determined why no rescue effort was launched. Trust us, we’ve turned over all relevant documents to congressional investigators. Trust us, all of the false information we told the public after the attack stemmed from a series of innocent mistakes and miscommunications.

Instead, we live in a world that feels as if someone has picked up our national Etch-a-Sketch and shaken it on a regular basis. After getting caught in a lie, the administration goes to work the next day and deals with a press corps as credulous as the day before. We’re living in a world where the villagers never wise up about the boy who cried “wolf!”

The current administration line is that they may simply refuse to cooperate with the House’s special committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, concluding it doesn’t meet the Obama administration’s standard as “legitimate.”

Obama’s top spokesman on Monday gave no indication that the White House would participate in the latest investigation — but the implicit answer seemed to be that it would not.

“We have always cooperated with legitimate oversight,” Carney said, adding that the GOP committee didn’t meet that test.

When you’ve been caught lying to the American public about life-and-death matters so often, you don’t get to decide which congressional investigations are legitimate and which ones aren’t. You have forfeited the benefit of the doubt. If it’s really that illegitimate, or a fishing expedition, the American people will let Congress know in November.

The notion of checks and balances in the Constitution is not dependent upon each branch’s opinion of the legitimacy of the questions of the other. Nixon didn’t think highly of Congress, either. You don’t get to ignore the Supreme Court if you don’t think their decision was “legitimate.”

What are the consequences of losing all credibility? It turns out, not much.

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