NBC and ABC Avoid Asking Tough Benghazi Questions to White House Chief of Staff
While new White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was grilled about the Benghazi terrorist attack on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, NBC Meet the Press
moderator David Gregory only lobbed a single softball on the scandal,
while fill-in host Jonathan Karl ignored the topic all together on ABC's
This Week. The White House was unwilling to even allow Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to interview McDonough.
On Meet the Press, after providing a fawning biographical intro of McDonough, Gregory only briefly touched on Benghazi, hoping the controversy was over: "I've talked to Republican senators, they've wanted to get additional information about what the President did the night of the attack...Has the President finished on the Benghazi matter? Is there anything else he's going to say or anything else he's concluded that should've been done that was not done?"
Not only did Gregory allow McDonough to maneuver around such an open-ended question, but in a contentious interview
with Republican Senator John McCain later in the show, the supposedly
objective journalist worked to dismiss any notion of a White House cover
up on the matter.
On This Week, Karl didn't even mention Benghazi, but did find time to tee up McDonough to bash Republicans for holding up cabinet appointments: "Chuck Hagel, the nomination delayed, also CIA director, your nominee, John Brennan, looks like he'll be delayed. Is this a threat to national security?"
What Karl failed to point out was that part of the reason for delaying the nominations was to get more information about Benghazi from the White House.
To his credit, Bob Schieffer stood alone in actually asking McDonough challenging questions about Benghazi:
> The White House finally acknowledged last week that the President did not make a call to the Libyan government on that night when four Americans died in – in – in Benghazi. Republicans wanted to know why. I want to ask you. You were the deputy national security adviser. It's my understanding, we learned last week that the President got a briefing early in the afternoon and seemed to have no more participation in anything. We know he didn't talk to the secretary of defense, or didn't talk to the CIA chief after that. What was the President doing that night?
> Were you briefing him on what was happening?
> One of the reasons that Congress is holding up your nominations of both John Brennan for the CIA, and Chuck Hagel at the Defense Department, they tell us that there were seventy emails that went back and forth during that week on what Susan Rice should say on this broadcast and on the other Sunday talk shows the following Sunday, and that somewhere along the way the idea that this was the work of terrorists, what happened in Benghazi, was taken out. Why don't you, number one, give the senators those emails and let them find out what they say they want to find out about this? And who, in fact, did take the connection to al Qaeda and the terrorists out of those talking points?
> And you said you'd let them see these emails? The seventy emails recorded as talking points?
Schieffer demonstrated that a number of pressing questions still remain
about the administration's response to the attack, questions the media
should be asking.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace expressed frustration at not even having the opportunity: "By the way, we wanted to speak with a White House official today about the President's agenda for the second term. But while new chief of staff Denis McDonough sat down with the other three Sunday shows, the White House turned down a request for him to answer our questions, and explain the President's policies to all of you. We'll keep trying."