Fox News invited to government’s Benghazi briefing
By Erik Wemple
(ESAM OMRAN AL-FETORI – REUTERS)
Eleventh in a series about Fox News’s Oct. 26 story on Benghazi, Libya.
Last month, Fox News national security reporters found themselves on the outside of two key U.S. government briefings on the tragic events of Benghazi on Sept. 11 . On her blog, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren thundered, “CIA and the Administration is trying to punish us so that we ‘learn not to ask them questions they don’t want to answer.’ ”
The alleged punishment ended — or at least paused — this afternoon in a briefing headed by senior Defense Department officials. Fox News talent was front and center at that briefing. The message from officialdom was barely news, as the officials argued that the military response to the assault on U.S. interests in Libya was about as good as you can expect, given the crisis situation and murky intelligence on just what was happening on the ground.
Skepticism and challenges to the official line came from many reporters in the room, especially those from Fox, which has been pursuing the story with abandon. As the briefers were going through their timeline, they disclosed certain details about the deployment preparations of special-operations forces, including a unit in Central Europe. Fox reporter Justin Fishel pressed for more details on just when those forces departed Central Europe, a data point that may indicate how quickly the military reacted to the crisis.
The question drew a rejection-plus-evasion from a Defense official: That departure time wouldn’t be revealed in the briefing, said the official. Why not? asked Fishel. “We feel like that information might be useful to our enemies,” said the official. To which Fishel shot back, “Unless we’re your enemies, I don’t understand that.”
Neither does the Erik Wemple Blog. That information would be far more useful to the American public, which has a right to know how prepared the U.S. military was to respond to turmoil in precisely the region where it might be expected to flare up on the anniversary of Sept. 11.
Again: Keep Fox News at government briefings.