Whether or not an issue is a “scandal” tends to be a subjective question – one voter’s world-changing controversy may be another voter’s meaningless distraction. Indeed, the Beltway has spent a week telling the nation that the White House is engulfed in three ongoing scandals, though many of us suspect this analysis is deeply flawed.
But if we’re going to talk about real political scandals, can we at least have a conversation about Republicans lying to reporters about Benghazi?
For those who can’t watch clips online, CBS’s Major Garrett told viewers last night something news consumers don’t usually see or hear: House Republicans gave journalists bogus information, apparently on purpose, in the hopes of advancing the right’s version of the Benghazi story.
As Josh Marshall explained, “Generally, once partisan, tendentious sources leak information that turns out to be wrong, nothing’s ever done about it. That’s for many reasons, some good or somewhat understandable, mostly bad. But on CBS Evening News tonight, Major Garrett did something I don’t feel like I’ve seen in a really long time or maybe ever on a network news cast. He basically said straight out: Republicans told us these were the quotes; that wasn’t true.”
Given what we now know, congressional Republicans saw all of these materials in March, couldn’t find anything controversial, and moved on. But last week, desperate to manufacture a scandal, unnamed Republicans on Capitol Hill started giving “quotes” from the materials to reporters, making it seem as if the White House made politically motivated edits of Benghazi talking points.
As Major Garrett reported last night, the “quotes” Republicans passed along to the media were bogus. The GOP seems to have made them up. ABC’s Jonathan Karl didn’t know that, and presented them as fact, touching off a media firestorm.
Why would Republicans do this, knowing that there was evidence that would prove them wrong?
Probably because Republicans assumed the White House wouldn’t disclose all of the internal deliberations that went into writing the Benghazi talking points. When the White House did the opposite on Wednesday, giving news organizations everything, the GOP had been caught in its lie.
And yesterday, Major Garrett was willing to say so.
Maybe this was just an innocent mistake, rather than a deliberate attempt at deception? Nope: “On Monday, Mother Jones noted that the Republicans’ interim report included the correct version of the emails, signaling that more malice and less incompetence may have been at play with the alleged alterations.”
So, it appears there’s a Benghazi scandal after all. It’s not the wrongdoing Republicans alleged; it’s the wrongdoing Republicans committed.
The question for Darrell Issa is pretty straightforward: when does the investigation begin as to which Republicans lied to journalists and when?