Bill Maher accused Fox News of playing up the September 2012 attack on an American consulate building in Libya during the panel discussion on Real Time on Friday.
“If you watch Fox News, this story was like, ‘They saved Hitler’s brain’ times ‘Men walk on the moon’ — it was the biggest story ever,” Maher chided. “And if you listen to normal people, it was just some partisan dopes trying to make political hay off some dead bodies. I still don’t know what the scandal is.”
Charles Cooke, a writer for the National Review, quickly pushed back on Maher’s point.
“The way I see it, is that lots of people in the media — and here, probably — don’t like Republicans,” Cooke began, accusing the Washington Post of painting people discussing the controversy surrounding the attack as “people who go to Chik Fil-A and white rich guys.” But, he continued, much of the reporting so far has focused on Republicans “banging on” about the issue.
“But they do,” Maher replied.
“They do, but if Republicans say 2 plus 2 equals 4, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong,” Cooke explained.
The problem, said Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, was that the attack happened six weeks before the 2012 presidential election, forcing both Fox and MSNBC to circle the wagons.
“Fox News was, ‘This is the worst scandal ever,’ MSNBC was, ‘Obama did absolutely nothing wrong, he acted perfectly, as always,’” Greenwald said. “And the reality was something in between, which was, a U.S. ambassador was killed. There’s only been six times in our nation’s history when that happened.”
Subsequently, Greenwald said, President Barack Obama and members of his administration made statements later proven to be false, which needs to be investigated.
“I’m not saying it’s a huge scandal,” Greenwald said. “But there certainly are questions when the government, and political officials, six weeks before an election, say things about a major event like that that prove to be untrue.”
Maher then mocked former Vice President Dick Cheney’s statement on Tuesday that under himself and then-President George W. Bush, the U.S. “was always ready” on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“There wouldn’t be an anniversary if he were doing his job,” Maher said.
MSNBC contributor Joy Reid called Benghazi “a prototypical Washington scandal,” arguing that an alleged bombshell report by ABC News concerned a memo with 12 edits on it.
“That’s what we’re down to,” Reid said. “Republicans are so desperate for a scandal that they’re now fighting over whether or not the talking points were massaged properly before Susan Rice went on Meet The Press.”
Republicans, she said, are determined to show that either Obama decided not to protect the consulate building or that his administration concocted a cover-up to hide their lack of success in eradicating al-Qaeda.
“The scandal here is that the media, as it did during the Bush years, sides with power,” Cooke countered.
“What should they have reported?” Maher asked Cooke. “What is the scandal? You still don’t tell me. I knew what the scandal with Watergate was. I knew what [it] was in Iran-Contra. I could tell you what it was, what the crime was. What’s the crime? Something bad happened in the world. Obama’s supposed to micro-manage everything that happens in the world? He’s got 4 million people under his charge.”
“You don’t think that when a U.S. ambassador is killed, and there are people within the State Department saying that they were asking for help and not getting it, and that the U.S. government went on to the world stage for a week and made claims about what happened that turned out not to be true, that that doesn’t merit any investigation?” Greenwald responded.
Watch video posted by Mediaite on Friday below.