The potentates of the press first focused their ire on something few of them even had seen -- a puerile Internet video titled "Innocence of Muslims" -- and then they turned their guns on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. As usual, the O-Team's media cheerleaders got it all wrong.
As Americans in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania participated in solemn ceremonies honoring our nearly 3,000 countrymen killed in the terror attacks 11 years ago, angry crowds were gathering around our embassy in Cairo. The U.S. Embassy responded by issuing an apologetic statement condemning "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." Instead of defusing the situation, the crowd swelled and stormed the embassy, tore down the U.S. flag and replaced it with a radical Islamic banner.
Meanwhile, 700 miles west of Cairo, a well-armed Islamist paramilitary force was laying siege to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. By 8:30 p.m. EDT, U.S. and international news services were reporting that Americans had been killed and wounded in Benghazi -- without specifying numbers or names. Many reports speculated that the Libyan onslaught was part of a growing "spontaneous" protest against the "Innocence" video.
At 10 p.m. EDT, the State Department finally issued a written statement from America's most-ever-traveled secretary of state, in which Hillary Clinton condemned "in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today" and confirmed "that one of our State Department officers was killed." But in a reference to the offensive Internet video, the press release also noted that "the United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others." There was no mention of the attack on our embassy in Cairo.
Less than a half-hour later, the Romney campaign lifted an embargo on a previously prepared statement: "I am outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." It was the first "official" reference to the events in Cairo.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.