The WAPO Fact-Checker gave Obama’s Claim that he branded Benghazi as a terrorist action one day after the attack a Four Pinocchio rating. In other words he said it was a complete lie (are you listening Candy Crowley?).
Glen Kessler the Fact-Checker columnist examined what Obama said the day after the attack and what he said each time he was directly asked if Benghazi was a terrorist attack:
So, given three opportunities to affirmatively agree that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack, the president obfuscated or ducked the question.
In fact, as far as we can tell from combing through databases, Monday [yesterday’s comments when he said the investigation was a side show] was the first time the president himself referred to Benghazi as an “act of terrorism.”….
… the president’s claim that he said “act of terrorism” is taking revisionist history too far, given that he repeatedly refused to commit to that phrase when asked directly by reporters in the weeks after the attack. He appears to have gone out of his way to avoid saying it was a terrorist attack, so he has little standing to make that claim now.
Indeed, the initial unedited talking points did not call it an act of terrorism. Instead of pretending the right words were uttered, it would be far better to acknowledge that he was echoing what the intelligence community believed at the time–and that the administration’s phrasing could have been clearer and more forthright from the start.
Politifact was much kinder to Jay Carney’s claim that Ambassador Rice did not downplay terrorist involvement in Benghazi during her now infamous trip to the Sunday news shows. The press secretary only received a “mostly false” rating.
In the one interview of the five in which she mentioned al-Qaida at all, she urged caution about assuming they were involved. And while she did allow that “extremists” appeared to have been involved in the attack, she made a point of saying in every interview that these extremists got involved only by hijacking an ongoing event that protested the anti-Islam film, a narrative that gives almost a secondary role to the extremists. Meanwhile, in three of the five interviews, Rice specifically rejected the idea that Benghazi amounted to a preplanned terrorist attack.
Carney said that Rice “talked about the possibility that al-Qaida might be involved, or other al-Qaida affiliates might be involved, or non-al-Qaida Libyan extremists (might be involved), which I think demonstrates that there was no effort to play that down.”
It’s true that Rice offered those three scenarios, but Carney is wrong to say she didn’t play them down. Rice barely mentioned the potential role of al-Qaida or one of its affiliates, and she urged caution about jumping to conclusions on the one occasion in which she did.
And while she did point to a role for “extremists,” Rice made clear that the extremists didn’t pre-plan the attack, but instead hijacked a demonstration that was already under way.
Both decisions played down, to one degree or another, each of the three scenarios she mentioned. We rate Carney’s claim Mostly False.
Based on their track-records I would doubt that either of these fact-checkers would have come up with the same response a week ago before the Issa committee hearings. While each has tried to present facts in their respective columns, the have tended to interpret those facts to suit their own purposes. Today both of these columns were truth tellers, receiving four stars from this news junkie.