A Fox News Channel interview ended abruptly Monday after an author accused the network of hyping the killing of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and “operating as a wing of the Republican Party.”
The charges were made by Thomas Ricks, a veteran newspaper reporter and author of “The Generals,” who was brought on for an interview with anchor Jon Scott about GOP criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s comments about the attacks.
Ricks said he thought the story of the Benghazi attacks was “hyped, by this network especially.”
Scott asked why Ricks would call it hype when four Americans were killed, including the first U.S. ambassador in more than 30 years.
Ricks responded that few people knew how many U.S. security contractors were killed in Iraq and compared that to the attention paid to “what was essentially a small firefight” in Libya.
“I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party,” Ricks said.
With that, Scott thanked him and turned to a co-anchor, who introduced a commercial.
“When Mr. Ricks ignored the anchor’s question, it became clear that his goal was to bring attention to himself and his book,” Fox News executive Michael Clemente said.
Two questions, two non-responsive answers, and both of them critical of the host. I would have cut him off too.
The part about the security contractors in Iraq was a red herring – they probably did deserve more attention but that has nothing to do with Libya. And this “small firefight” took place at a US consulate and claimed the life of one of our ambassadors. That meets the criteria for news coverage.
Did Susan Rice lie to the American people? Or did she unknowingly pass along inaccurate information? It’s one or the other, and we have a right to know which one it is.
Is Fox News guilty of hyping some stories and ignoring others? Oh, you betcha! They just happen to be one of the few media outlets that does so in a way that favors Republicans. The rest of the media spent the last year ignoring any story that portrayed Obama in a negative light (Solyndra, Fast & Furious, etc.) and hyping stories critical of Mitt Romney (Bain, Mormon theology, Mitt’s taxes).
Thanks to the First Amendment we can’t force the media to be fair or balanced. We can’t even make them tell the truth. The only option is to allow alternative views to be heard. As Justice Louis Brandeis said, “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”