Neoconservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin on Sunday demanded that CNN “mute” Take Action News host David Shuster for using what she insisted were “Media Matters talking points” to slam ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl for inaccurately reporting details about the way the Obama administration handled the response to last year’s terrorists attacks in Benghazi.
On May 10, Karl had suggested that he had seen White House emails that specifically referenced a desire to create talking points about the cause of the Benghazi attacks that covered for the “State Department.” But CNN’s Jake Tapper later revealed that Karl had obviously not seen the emails and that his source “seemingly invented the notion” that the State Department had even been mentioned.
In a statement to CNN on Sunday, Karl said, “I regret the email was quoted incorrectly and I regret that it’s become a distraction from the story, which still entirely stands.”
Rubin told CNN’s Howard Kurtz on Sunday that Karl should not retract the story.
“He was misled and I don’t know how you can stand by a story if the story is wrong,” Shuster argued. “He could have put this email out and said, ‘I’ve been debriefed on the email from a Republican congressional source and here’s what they tell me.’ Instead, ABC News said that they ‘obtained’ the emails and Jonathan Karl made it seem if he had read them directly. So, the story was wrong, the attribution was wrong. And he’s still not characterizing the source as a Republican source, even though other news organizations are already doing that.”
“The story was not wrong,” Rubin disagreed.
“Jennifer, it was wrong,” Shuster replied. “Because the overall Republican point here was that the Obama administration was trying to protect the State Department — the Obama administration was trying to protect the State Department and that the White House was somehow trying to characterize the talking points or change the talking points in order to minimize political damage. That Republican idea is just flat out wrong!”
“Okay, you had your spin coming out for the administration,” Rubin interrupted. “It’s very nice to have the Media Matters talking points recited out of David’s lips.”
“What are you talking about?” Shuster shot back. “I haven’t talked to anybody from Media Matters.”
“Howard if you want to hear me that’s fine, if you don’t, you should mute him,” Rubin pleaded with the CNN host. “These exact comments are coming out of Media Matters. Absolutely.”
“Well, I don’t talk to Media Matters,” Shuster noted. “So, Jennifer, that’s an unfair characterization for you to make, but the bottom line in this is the Republican argument in this is flat out wrong.”
“Well, if you want to mute David,” Rubin asked Kurtz again.
Shuster concluded by asserting that Karl had a duty to out the Republican source that had lied to him.
“ABC has an opportunity and a responsibility to say, ‘Look, we got this from Republicans on Capitol Hill and you can make your own judgement about what they were trying to do.’ But to hold that back does ABC News no honor in any of this.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Reliable Sources, broadcast May 19, 2013.