Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell talks about media bias on FNC's The Kelly File, 9:30pm ET/PT Thursday

CBS Highlights Benghazi Anniversary; Fails to Mention Obama and Hillary By Name

Tuesday's CBS This Morning spotlighted the upcoming one-year anniversary of the Islamist attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, but whitewashed the role of President Obama and his administration, including that of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Anchors Charlie Rose, Norah O'Donnell, and Gayle King didn't once mention Obama or Clinton's name during an interview segment with author Fred Burton.

In his new book, Burton revealed that "an unidentified security official in the Benghazi compound...messaged the U.S. embassy in Tripoli: 'Benghazi under fire, terrorist attack.'" However, Rose only vaguely referenced the White House's now-discredited talking point about the terrorist attack: "Does this book and your understanding of it suggest that everybody knew it was a planned attack, and not a surprise arising out of a protest?" [audio available here; video below]

The three anchors brought on the former diplomatic security agent to discuss "Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi". In her first question, King played up how her guest wrote, "'In this situation, there's no right or wrong decision – just the issue of reaction and survival.' So, really, take us inside that day – what happened day – these really young guys."

Burton replied, "I think the politics of this story have been put over the top, and what I wanted focus on, Gayle, was the heroism of the agents...on the ground, in this very difficult environment, trying to do the best they possibly could, based upon the circumstances that were unfolding."

King followed up with her own vague reference to the Obama administration's early talking point that the Benghazi attack was an impromptu reaction to an obscure anti-Muhammad YouTube video: "You point out this was not a ragtag team that came into the embassy that day. You said they were methodical, and they were systematic. These guys knew what they were doing."

Norah O'Donnell couldn't bring herself to use the President's name when she asked her sole question about the manhunt for the perpetrators of the terrorist attack. Instead, she used a general pronoun in reference to the United States:

NORAH O'DONNELL: It is almost a one year later since this attack happened and these four Americans were killed. And yet, those responsible are still on the loose. Why haven't we been able to catch them? What do you believe is behind the hunt for them, and why they've been so elusive?

Near the end of the end of the segment, Rose raised the issue of whether the incident was a "planned attack and not a surprise", but like his colleagues, didn't specifically mention that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice had claimed that the assault was a "spontaneous - not a pre-meditated response" eight days later on several Sunday morning shows. CBS senior correspondent John Miller also hinted that Ambassador Chris Stevens was partially at fault:

JOHN MILLER: ...[Y]ou've got an ambassador who wants to travel. It's September 11th. It's a symbolic day for threats. And this is very typical of the Diplomatic Security Service. They're a small agency with...a very limited number of people covering 450 outposts. And usually, there is (sic) two of them – or just a handful – in a high-threat place to cover a threat like that. When the ambassador says, I want to go from Tripoli to Benghazi, nobody gets to say, well, sir, that's a bad day for that. We can't let you do that. They just mount up and go. And this is part of that story.

Exactly three weeks earlier, on the August 13, 2013 edition of CBS This Morning, correspondent John Blackstone boosted Hillary Clinton's potential 2016 presidential run, and minimized the ongoing questions about her leadership before, during, and after the attack in Benghazi. For opposition, Blackstone merely noted that "a new ad, just released by the GOP, criticizes Clinton's handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi", without further explaining the issue.

The full transcript of the Fred Burton segment from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Next week marks the first anniversary of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

[CBS News Graphic: "Inside Benghazi: Book Details Deadly U.S. Consulate Attack"]

GAYLE KING: For the first time, we hear from the agents assigned to protect Stevens in a new book detailing the assault. It's called 'Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi'. It's written by Fred Burton. He is a former diplomatic security agent, and a former State Department counter-terrorism deputy chief. He joins us, along with our senior correspondent – that would be John Miller, who's a former assistant FBI director. Good to see you both.

Fred Burton. I have to start with you, because I was on plane for ten hours yesterday, and I read your book from cover to cover-

FRED BURTON, CO-AUTHOR, "UNDER FIRE": Thank you-

KING: I have to say, I bugged the guy next to me – let me read you this part; let me read you this part. You know this job. You've done this job, so you how these guys were feeling. And at one point, you said, 'In this situation, there's no right or wrong decision – just the issue of reaction and survival.' So, really, take us inside that day – what happened that day – these really young guys.

BURTON: I think the politics of this story are – have been put over the top, and what I wanted focus on, Gayle, was the – the heroism of the agents – that were all very young – on the ground, in this very difficult environment, trying to do the best they possibly could, based upon the circumstances that were unfolding.

KING: But you point out this was not a ragtag team that came – came into the embassy that day. You said they were methodical, and they were systematic. These guys knew what they were doing.

BURTON: Absolutely. It was a very choreographed attack on the temporary facility, which was not up to physical security standards; which, obviously, has been discussed, as a result of the follow-on accountability review board by the State Department. But in essence, this is what diplomatic security service agents do. I investigated the last U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty in 1988, which was Ambassador Arnie Raphel. He perished aboard Pak-1, which was the aircraft which killed the president of Pakistan. And I was all of about 24, 25-years-old at the time, and I remember just being greatly overwhelmed by circumstances. And I certainly didn't have the experience in my – in my mind, to do the job that – that it would have been a different story today if I'd gone out to do the same kind of case.

O'DONNELL: It is almost a one year later since this attack happened and these four Americans were killed. And yet, those responsible are still on the loose. Why haven't we been able to catch them? What do you believe is behind the hunt for them, and why they've been so elusive?

BURTON: Well, I personally don't believe that anybody will ever be captured and brought into a court of law to be prosecuted for this. I think the most probable outcome will be some sort of Predator drone strike on the suspects identified. It's a very hostile environment. There is no infrastructure in place, Norah, to capture these individuals. The Libyans do not have a FBI or a CIA, per se. This is a country that is like the wild, wild West-

O'DONNELL: Sure, sure-

CHARLIE ROSE: You talk about the politics of all this. But does this book and your understanding of it suggest that everybody knew it was a planned attack, and not a surprise arising out of a protest?

BURTON: Well, you look at this case, Charlie. What you have is the moment that the first round was fired, the agents that were there knew absolutely that this was a terrorist attack. That was the only outcome that they were dealing with at the moment-

ROSE: Right-

BURTON: Remember, that the counter-terrorism community is really not geared for decisions to be made at the highest level. So, there's a process that's in play; notifications are made; and, in essence, you have to have good contingency plans, so you have an appropriate response at that period of time.

KING: John what were the lessons learned in Benghazi, do you think, that will help protect other diplomats?

JOHN MILLER: Well, there's the formal essence, which will come out from the review board; and there are the informal lessons, and one of the reminders is that the ambassador is 'god'. And that is, you know, when you're in a hostile environment – the ambassador was popular there, and had operated in Benghazi before. But you've got a security package that is shrinking, and you've got an ambassador who wants to travel. It's September 11th. It's a symbolic day for threats. And this is very – this is very typical of the Diplomatic Security Service. They're a small agency with – with, you know, a very limited number of people covering 450 outposts. And usually, there is (sic) two of them – or just a handful – in a high-threat place to cover a threat like that. When the ambassador says, I want to go from Tripoli to Benghazi, nobody gets to say, well, sir, that's a bad day for that. We can't let you do that-

KING: Yes, yes-

MILLER: They just mount up and go. And this is part of that story.

KING: And the most touching thing was to remember Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty. We'll be right back.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.