In a rare moment of genuine criticism of President Obama's response to the Libya terrorist attack, on Friday's NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory slammed government "confusion" after the event: "...the administration response on this was both sluggish, sloppy and incoherent at some times..." [Listen to the audio]
Gregory's criticism was prompted by co-host Savannah Guthrie asking about Monday's upcoming foreign policy debate. While Gregory briefly noted "missteps" on the issue by Mitt Romney in the second debate, he quickly pointed to Obama's controversial comments about the attack during a Thursday Daily Show appearance: "The President's being criticized for his – his talking points on this, on Jon Stewart saying when four Americans are killed it's 'not optimal'..."
Prior to Gregory's appearance, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd played a clip of the Daily Show exchange, but did not portray it as a gaffe for the President.
At the end of his report, Todd provided a supposed news flash about the attack that had already been known for weeks:
...there's an Associated Press report this morning that indicates that the CIA may have had some hints that this was not sparked by a protest just 24 hours after the attack itself, what's unclear and what my own reporting's been indicating for a while, did the CIA share that information with the White House? When did they finally share that information?
On ABC's September 27 World News, correspondent Jake Tapper reported: "Sources tell ABC News that intelligence officials on the ground immediately suspected the attack was not tied to the movie at all....Some administration sources tell ABC News they were concerned after the White House began pushing the line that they attack was spontaneous and not the work of terrorists."
Here is a transcript of Gregory's October 19 comments:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And then, real quickly, looking ahead to Monday, it's a debate all about foreign policy. Do you think either candidate holds the advantage there?
DAVID GREGORY: Well, right now there's still a lot on Benghazi. You know, there were some missteps by Romney in the last debate about that, but as Chuck was just reporting, still more questions about what was known and when, about whether this was a terrorist attack and whether the administration came clean about it. The President's being criticized for his – his talking points on this, on Jon Stewart saying when four Americans are killed it's "not optimal," that was in Stewart's question. But nevertheless, this is not gonna be an issue that's gonna go away. There's still some confusion about how the administration response on this was both sluggish, sloppy and incoherent at some times, so I think this is gonna be a topic of conversation for sure.