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NBC and CBS Tout 'Defiant' Hillary Clinton 'On Offense' Over Benghazi

On Friday, both NBC's Today and CBS This Morning dutifully promoted quotes from Hillary Clinton's new memoir leaked to Politico of the former Secretary of State blasting critics of her mishandling of the Benghazi terrorist attack. Today co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: "If there was any doubt Hillary Clinton's clearly ready to go on offense on this." Political director Chuck Todd agreed: "There's no doubt at all. In fact, there's a concerted campaign effort." [Listen to the audio]

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes declared: "...the former Secretary of State strikes a defiant tone about the attack and all the investigations into it..." Moments later, Cordes observed: "Democrats are going to see this as a kind of template for how to talk about the Benghazi attacks. In fact, the Clinton team is reportedly meeting with Democratic groups to explain her tone in the book so that everyone is on the same page."

Todd similarly noted on Today: "I know of Hillary Clinton advisers have been meeting with Democratic strategists around town here in Washington to go back and forth, let them know what's in this Benghazi chapter. Now, of course, the public knows."

Todd also applauded Clinton's "strategy" in pushing the memoir: "She's sitting down with Fox News – which has been one of the news organizations that's been riding this Benghazi story more than anybody – because they [Clinton's team] want to get this out of the way now....They don't want Benghazi hanging over her head and these questions and the investigations during when the campaign actually begins."

Both Guthrie and Cordes recited Clinton's talking points from the book:

I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It's just plain wrong and it's unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me....Many of these same people are a broken record about unanswered questions. But there is a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers.

Following the report from Cordes, This Morning co-host Charlie Rose made sure to squeeze in one more bit of spin: "You should note...that the Secretary says that some people that night were motivated by the video and others were not. They were motivated by two different things."

Cordes briefly summarized the GOP response: "Republicans are gonna say that she's trying to get out of discussing this issue, both before Congress and on the campaign trail." Guthrie and Todd didn't bother with such criticism. Neither broadcast featured a quote from a single Republican.

ABC's Good Morning America skipped Clinton's Benghazi commentary completely, but did find time to tout a "secret off-the-books meeting between Hillary Clinton and President Obama at the White House" that "prompts new talk of [a] presidential run."

Here is a transcript of the May 30 exchange between Guthrie and Todd on Today:

7:08 AM ET

(...)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: On another topic, Politico has a big scoop this morning. It has obtained the chapter on Benghazi from Hillary Clinton's new book.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Hillary Addresses Benghazi Scandal; Writes Stop "Politicizing the Tragedy" In New Book]

Let me read you a couple of quotes. The first one, she says, "I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It's just plain wrong and it's unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me." And then she goes on to say about her critics, Chuck, "Many of these same people are a broken record about unanswered questions. But there is a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers." If there was any doubt Hillary Clinton's clearly ready to go on offense on this.

CHUCK TODD: There's no doubt at all. In fact, there's a concerted campaign effort. You know, I know of Hillary Clinton advisers have been meeting with Democratic strategists around town here in Washington to go back and forth, let them know what's in this Benghazi chapter. Now, of course, the public knows.

But look at her strategy and the rollout of the book. She's sitting down with Fox News – which has been one of the news organizations that's been riding this Benghazi story more than anybody – because they [Clinton's team] want to get this out of the way now, Savannah. They don't want Benghazi hanging over her head and these questions and the investigations during when the campaign actually begins.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Chuck Todd with a lot of headlines out of Washington this morning, thank you.

Here is a full transcript of the May 30 report from Cordes on This Morning:

7:10 AM ET

GAYLE KING: This morning we are seeing Hillary Clinton lash out at her critics over the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Nancy Cordes is in Washington with a portion of the former Secretary of State's new memoir obtained by Politico. Nancy, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Battle Over Benghazi; Hillary Clinton Targets Critics in Memoir]

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. And this is probably the most highly-anticipated section of Hillary Clinton's new book, Hard Choices, because it is the topic that Republicans will raise against her most often if she decides to run for president. It's a chapter on Benghazi. And according to Politico, which obtained or was leaked a copy of that chapter, it is thirty-four pages long and in it the former Secretary of State strikes a defiant tone about the attack and all the investigations into it, the attack that led to the deaths of four Americans in 2012, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

She says in that chapter that, "Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country." And she goes on to say, "Many of these same people are a broken record about unanswered questions. But there is a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers."

There's a good chance that Clinton is going to be called to testify before a new House committee that has just been formed to investigate yet again the Benghazi attacks. But she writes, and this is interesting, "I will not be part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It's just plain wrong and it's unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me."

Republicans are gonna say that she's trying to get out of discussing this issue, both before Congress and on the campaign trail. But Democrats are going to see this as a kind of template for how to talk about the Benghazi attacks. In fact, the Clinton team is reportedly meeting with Democratic groups to explain her tone in the book so that everyone is on the same page.

Charlie, we should note that the book, Hard choices, is being published by Simon & Schuster, which is a division of CBS.

CHARLIE ROSE: Hey, Nancy, thank you. You should note, Gayle, for example, that the Secretary says that some people that night were motivated by the video and others were not. They were motivated by two different things.

KING: More to come.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.