Media Won’t Let Benghazi Become Watergate

Douglas MacKinnon

5/22/2013 12:01:00 AM - Douglas MacKinnon

There are at the moment a number of exaggerated, even breathless comparisons between President Obama's Benghazi/IRS/Associated Press controversies and President Nixon's Watergate scandal in 1973.

Part of that narrative is driven by the fact that the media like to associate controversies with anniversaries. Part is driven by partisan politics. And part is driven by overreach, presidential politics, incompetence, targeted "justice," and a seeming cover-up by certain people within our government. Will these controversies rise to the level of Watergate with regard to media interest and the media vilification of a White House and a president? Not even close.

As a former high-level Democrat who prefers to remain anonymous recently told me, "While these issues are bad and getting worse by the day, Obama still has an ace in the hole. The majority of the mainstream media does not want to see him fail and especially does not want to see him compared to 'Tricky Dick.' "

Much of the left-leaning media feels temporarily exposed on these issues -- and maybe played for chumps by the Obama White House with regard to Benghazi -- and therefore feel they have no option but to cover the controversies closely for a short time to "prove" they are unbiased and doing their jobs.

In a very real way, famed Watergate and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward just put his profession on the spot when he said in part on the MSNBC program "Morning Joe": "... You were talking earlier about kind of dismissing the Benghazi issue as one that's just political and the president recently said it's a sideshow. But if you read through all these emails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, 'Oh, let's not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaeda. ... Oh, let's not let these things out.'

"And I have to go back 40 years to Watergate when Nixon put out his edited transcripts to the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, 'Oh, let's not tell this, let's not show this.' I would not dismiss Benghazi. It's a very serious issue. As people keep saying, four people were killed. ..."

The news media and they alone have the real power to hold people accountable and to get to the bottom of these very troubling controversies. How? By simply and ethically doing their job.

To do so, journalists need only stop carrying water for the Democrats and the Obama White House and start asking the obvious questions until they get to the complete truth.

As for the tragedy that is Benghazi, highly respected former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw may have said it best, also on "Morning Joe" last week:

"You cannot explain away [U.N. Ambassador] Susan Rice's performance on those Sunday talk shows in which she said it was not a terrorist attack and grew out of a domestic demonstration of some kind, she completely underplayed it and rewrote the script and I think we deserve to know who it is. ...

"We have not had an adequate notice from the White House or anybody in the administration as to why she was allowed to say what she did. ... But nonetheless she went on all of those shows in a very emphatic way and said it was not a terrorist attack and this grew out of a demonstration that it was spontaneous and that turned out to be not so true whatsoever."

Forty years ago, Woodward and Brokaw were all over Watergate and helped splash it on our front pages and bring it into our living rooms for months on end. Today, both journalists are waving red flags with regard to the Obama administration's role in at least Benghazi.

Who among their professional colleagues will follow their lead and track down and follow every fact to its natural conclusion? Sadly, not nearly enough.