There’s a usual pattern to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) media game: he’ll quietly leak misleading information to a news outlet; the outlet will run with the exclusive; then the story will be entirely discredited, leaving everyone involved looking rather foolish. It’s happened more than a few times.
Today, Issa tried to play a similar game, but it backfired much quicker than usual.
The California Republican appears to have sought out a reporter he hoped would be sympathetic – in this case, ABC News’ Jon Karl – with Issa’s new Benghazi scoop.
A still-classified State Department e-mail says that one of the first responses from the White House to the Benghazi attack was to contact YouTube to warn of the “ramifications” of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Issa, in a perpetual state of high dudgeon, issued a statement describing the White House’s message to YouTube as evidence of … something nefarious. It’s not entirely clear what.
But the trouble, as Karl, to his credit, was quick to note in his report, is that Issa’s revelation actually undermines Issa’s preferred narrative.
The memo suggests that even as the attack was still underway – and before the CIA began the process of compiling talking points on its analysis of what happened – the White House believed it was in retaliation for a controversial video. […]Asked about the document, a senior White House official told ABC News it demonstrates that the White House genuinely believed the video sparked the attack all along, a belief that turned out to be incorrect.“We actually think this proves what we’ve said. We were concerned about the video, given all the protests in region,” the official said. And the intelligence community “was also concerned about the video.”
In other words, Issa has uncovered a document, intended to discredit the White House’s argument, which actually bolsters the White House’s argument.
So, here’s the larger question to consider: did Issa just not understand his own story, or, as Eddie Vale suggested, did he release this to undercut the select committee Issa is so opposed to?
Either way, when coming to terms with House Speaker John Boehner’s 180-degree turn on creating the new committee, keep today’s story in mind – GOP leaders long ago lost confidence in Issa’s ability to deal with the investigation competently.
Update: Hannah Groch-Begley discovered that today’s “new” story from Issa to ABC is practically identical to news we already learned – from, among others, ABC – in 2012.