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Sunday Morning Miracle: CBS’s Face the Nation Leads with Benghazi ‘Cover-Up’

Proof Sunday morning that Republicans can use their power to hold House hearings to force media coverage of topics journalists have shown little interest in probing. CBS's Face the Nation led with an “exclusive” which Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committe on Oversight and Government Reform, gave host Bob Schieffer about the upcoming testimony from Greg Hicks, the second in command in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attacks. 

“Today,” Schieffer touted, “there is new information raising questions about whether there was a cover-up by the State Department to deflect criticism that it had ignored requests for more security for its people in Libya.”

Schieffer promoted how “Chairman Issa is here today to reveal some of the startling excerpts from Greg Hicks’ interview with his investigators. Surprisingly, this will be the first time anyone has heard publicly from Hicks, and as you will see, his story is totally at variance with what some American officials were saying in public on this broadcast five days after the attack.”

Fox News Sunday also began with Benghazi, interviewing two members of Issa’s committee (Republican Jason Chaffetz and Democrat Stephen Lynch), while NBC’s Meet the Press gave a passing mention to Benghazi and ABC’s This Week again ignored it.

[UPDATE: Sunday's CBS Evening News also led with Benghazi. Not a word about it on ABC's World News on Sunday night, nor on an abbreviated NBC Nightly News.}

Schieffer’s unusually long opening to the May 5 Face the Nation:

We start with a story that just won’t go away. On September 11th of last year, the American compound in Benghazi was attacked. The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed. Exactly what happened that night has been investigated by various agencies and congressional committees, but remains a source of controversy.

And today, there is new information raising questions about whether there was a cover-up by the State Department to deflect criticism that it had ignored requests for more security for its people in Libya. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one of the committees that’s been investigating this week. They will hear testimony from Greg Hicks, a 22-year foreign service diplomat who was the number two U.S. official in Libya who was talking to Washington during and after the attack.

Chairman Issa is here today to reveal some of the startling excerpts from Greg Hicks’ interview with his investigators. Surprisingly, this will be the first time anyone has heard publicly from Hicks, and as you will see, his story is totally at variance with what some American officials were saying in public on this broadcast five days after the attack. The administration claimed the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration provoked by protests in Egypt. Greg Hicks told investigators that was simply not true.

Part of what he said. Hicks: “I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go. I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”

Question: “Did you ever have any indication that there was a protest, a popular protest, outside the mission in Benghazi?”

Greg Hicks: “No.”

Question: “And if there was such a protest would that have been reported?”

Hicks: “Absolutely. For there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’ front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable.”

So, Mr. Issa, why would the administration put out a story line that was so different from what U.S. officials in Libya knew immediately?

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.