Sunday, August 11, 2013

TV: The endangerd news documentary

"I got a phone call and from there, I had to decide how to then tell everyone," Kate Quigley explains, adding, "There's no way to sugar coat it you just do it."

And many of us in our lives have had to and will have to be the ones to convey news of a family death. It's never easy.  Deaths are usually sad and often a surprise. Quigley's loss certainly was.  Her brother had died overseas, in some sort of attack that was confusing and layered in double speak.  What she knew was there had been an attack and her brother was one of the ones trying to defend people from the attack when he was killed.


Last Tuesday, Kate was among the people who got to step forward and talk about their loss on CNN's news special The Truth About Benghazi, part of an Erin Burnett OutFront Special Investigation.  The September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi left many Americans injured (possibly 30 or more) and left four Americans dead.   Four Americans dead.  Yet the press rarely names all four.  They repeatedly do what Bradley Klapper (AP) did last Friday, "Even after the Sept. 11 Benghazi assault that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and as [. . .]"

You can't mention the other three names?  Apparently not.  You better believe Kate Quigley has more than earned her right to go on national television and talk about her brother Glen Doherty.  Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods are "the three other Americans."

We hadn't planned on reviewing the special. It's been long in the works, we'd heard much about it.  But then came Zachary Pleat of Media Matters attacking the special and insisting CNN had "recklessly speculated."  We'll leave Pleat to channel Joe McCarthy.

The drama is hardly surprising.  This is the outlet based upon the 'success' story of falsely smearing Anita Hill as "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty."  Those are the roots of Media Matters and the faux checks they do.

Their faux check really seems to stem from a visceral response to seeing Quigley and other family members, from Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty actually being seen as people and as people who died trying to protect others.

"What difference does it make!" howled an embarrassing Hillary Clinton last January when asked about these deaths and the attack.

Unlike anyone at Media Matters, we were at the hearing as were Wally, Ruth and Kat and the community reporting on that hearing is as follows: "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot,"  "20 are still at risk says Hillary in an aside (Ava),"  "Facts matter, Hillary (Wally)," "Like watching Richard Nixon come back to life," "Can she not answer even one damn question?" and "The Drone War and Kerry's confirmation hearing."  We were at that hearing, we were at the House hearing later that day.  We've been at all the Congressional hearings on this issue -- including the first one in October where it was noted in the discussion between the Chair and a House Rep. that it was a CIA mission.  That discussion wasn't miked but if you were close enough to the front you should have heard it because we did.

Media Matters has no idea what the State Department's Charlene Lamb and Patrick Fitzgerald testified to at that hearing because a large portion of the press present left before the end of the hearing.  We were there so we can report that some of the attack was seen in real time in DC via live footage from a drone.  We can talk about that and how that footage -- which the FBI has no objection to releasing (that's also in the Congressional record) -- has been hidden from the public.

We're not going to waste a great deal of time on the nonsense of  Zachary's but we'll present one of his lies and refute it:

Former State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland Was Concerned Naming Terrorist Groups Could "Prejudice The Investigation." In emails exchanged between the CIA, State Department, and other administration officials concerning the drafting of the talking points on Benghazi -- emails made public by CNN in May -- Nuland expressed concern that publicly naming specific terrorist organizations could "prejudice the investigation" into who was behind the attacks. [Media Matters, 5/15/13]

They really have debased their own names at Media Matters.  Victoria Nuland's e-mails are public knowldege and only a whore would lie the way Media Matters has.  (Even Nuland didn't go that far in July at the Senate Foreign Relations hearing -- yeah, we were at that hearing too -- unlike Media Matters.)

As noted in the May 21st "Iraq snapshot," Victoria Nuland sent an e-mail September 14, 7:39 pm:

I just had a convo with [deleted] and now I understand that these are being prepared to give to Members of Congress to use with the media. 
On that basis, I have serious concerns about all the parts highlighted below, and arming members of Congress to start making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not making because we don't want to prejudice the investigation.
In the same vein, why do we want Hill to be fingering Ansar al Sharia, when we aren't doing that ourselves until we have investigation results... and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either?  Concerned.

She doesn't want the "members [of Congress] to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings" -- those are her words -- words Media Matters doesn't want you to know about.

By the way, please grasp that the whores in David Brock's latest brothel are whoring to save Victoria Nuland -- Dick Cheney's former deputy National Security Advisor.  Nuland is a War Hawk and a neo-con.  She pimped the Iraq War as hard as her husband Robert Kagan did.  Nuland is representative of Media Matters' client base these days.

The right wing, we were told, had problems with the special.

We found this at The Conservative Treehouse which dismisses the special as lies and offers as proof Erin Burnett's waistline.  Erin is many months pregnant now.  In some footage of the special (interviews), she clearly is not.

We can address this issue because, again, we've known about the special for some time.  It was originally conceived of something that would air the day before the anniversary.  It was going to be more of a reflection and interviews were scheduled with that in mind.  What happened was Burnett and her CNN team -- and especially Arwa Damon -- kept coming up with new leads.  To the point that they were able to name one person involved in the attacks:  Ahmed Abu Khattala.  The Conservative Treehouse notes this and notes that right before the special (which names the man and features Damon interviewing him) aired, hours before, the White House announced they were charging the man in the attacks.

It was because of that lead and other developments that CNN decided to air the special a month early.

There was no grand conspiracy.  That is how news works -- when it works.  Unlike, for example, MSNBC faux 'news specials,' CNN planned one and thought it would be a basic reflection special.  There was no effort to slant it or politicize it or gin it up.  From there many began working on leads and the special became where the strong leads took them.  Conclusions were formed from the research and investigation as opposed to a faux special that starts with a conclusion and then cherry picks to back it up.

You don't have to like the special.  You can hate it and offer no reason for hating it.  But if you're going to do a fact check -- like Media Matters pretended -- at least don't lie.

"Getting a phone call that kind of alters your life forever -- that's horrible,"  Kate Quigley says, her voice shaking.

What's offensive about that?  What's offensive about a woman who loved her brother and is proud of his efforts September 11, 2012 to save others, what's offensive about her talking about that, talking about Glen Doherty?

It's offensive because Glen's not supposed to exist.  He's not supposed to matter.

For Benghazi to be dismissed, the dead must be treated the way Bully Boy Bush treated the fallen in the Iraq War.  They must be hidden from sight, not discussed, not acknowledged.

If we stop to think of "three other Americans" as people, if we start to grasp that Glen, Tyrone and Sean had family and friends who loved them, that they were real people and that they are strongly missed, that tears are still shed for the three, then we can't play like their deaths don't matter.

That's what really bothered Media Matters.  They've spent nearly a year dismissing Benghazi, lying about it and refusing to name the dead.

The special doesn't just float the corpses, it lets these Americans who died carrying out a US mission in Libya come back to life long enough for, in reality TV speak, it to get real.

And that's honestly how it always should have been.

"Ty perished doing what he loved to do and doing it well,"  Cheryl Bennett explains. "My son did the right thing at the right time for the right reasons."

She has every right to say that and every right to be heard.  Tyrone Woods wasn't in Libya on a vacation.  He was there because of the US government.  How can we deny the losses, how can we cover them up, and be in any way in touch with humanity?

It wasn't enough for some on the left to act like Ford ignoring the deaths research demonstrated the Pintos would cause. No, we had to go beyond that on the left with many people mocking the events, yawning they were bored.

The arrogance of that is appalling.  How dare you ever forget that other people don't have the luxury of being bored by the deaths because these were their loved ones.  "My heart is broken," Cheryl Bennett says, "because he perished the way he did."

And whether you believe in the Libyan mission or not (our view, the US never should have declared war and never should have tried to do diplomatic outposts after the war), how dare you blame those carrying out the US mission for the politics behind it.

But the four -- yes, even Chris Stevens -- had to be treated like trash in order to ensure that Barack wasn't asked tough questions.  (Diane Rehm has repeatedly allowed left callers to her NPR program The Diane Rehm Show to float that Chris is responsible for his death.  This is disgusting and we've called it out here before.)

The special makes that a little harder.  Not with the tough questions -- though the presentation certainly raises many questions.  No, the power of the special is the four who died.

And it aired on CNN.  When Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, objects to Jay Carney's offensive and dismissive statements, she can go on Fox News and note that there is nothing "phony" about her son being dead.  But by being on Fox News, right away, a large portion of the left dismisses her.

It's a shame that the mothers who want answers about their children's deaths -- from Cindy Sheehan to Pat Smith -- can't link arms and fight the system together.  It's the only thing that might allow the "right" and the "left" labels to fall away and for the people to get closure and maybe some accountability.

CNN isn't the best news channel in the world or even what it should be.  But it is the last remaining US cable news channel with even some level of credibility.  So an echo chamber that's spent months insisting that there is no story is here is going to attack CNN when they make a point to report that, yes, there is a story here -- there are several stories here.  As CNN's John King pointed out, "There are legitimate questions about why repeated and specific warnings about the Benghazi security situation were undervalued or ignored."

News specials are supposed to have merit, they're supposed to be something other than Barbara Walters explores what heaven may be like or Nancy Grace's true crime recreations.  Whether you liked the special or not (we thought it was well done), take a moment to grasp that it was a rare thing: A real news documentary.  And maybe one of the reasons it's been so attacked is because people see less and less of those?

Real news documentaries are a rare thing these days.  You can find lifestyle pieces and 'discussions,' you can find true crime, but an actual news documentary?  These days, the genre is an endangered species.  CNN deserves strong applause for demonstrating the genre is not dead yet.

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