Obama State Department aide tells reporter to ‘f**k off’
posted at 11:10 am on September 25, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
President Gerald Ford may have figuratively told New York to “drop dead” when he nixed a bailout for the city in 1975, but at least the four-letter words ascribed to him in a Daily News banner headline are repeatable in a family publication. Not so the reaction of an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a reporter’s decidedly pointed queries about the State Department’s mishandling of the U.S. embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya.
BuzzFeed reports that its own Michael Hastings was advised at the end of a heated email exchange with Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines to “f**k off.” Reines also called the reporter an “unmitigated a**hole.”
There is no denying that Hastings’ questions were intended to bait Reines over the department and the Obama administration’s continuously evolving story about what went down in Libya on Sept. 11 of this year. Long after it was revealed that rocket propelled grenades had been used and al Qaeda had claimed credit, both clung to the initial narrative that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim film trailer.
On Saturday, matters worsened when CNN leaked entries from the personal diary of Ambassador Chris Stevens, which its reporters had recovered from the burnt-out embassy. The entries revealed that Stevens, one of four Americans murdered in the attack, had been worried about threats by al Qaeda, prompting new questions on whether security in the compound had been adequate.
Reines went into attack mode himself, calling CNN’s reporting on the diaries “disgusting.” The network responded: “Perhaps the real question here is why is the State Department now attacking the messenger.”
But on Sunday, Reines lost it altogether. Here was Hastings’ initial query:
A few quick questions for you. Why didn’t the State Department search the consulate and find AMB Steven’s [sic] diary first? What other potential valuable intelligence was left behind that could have been picked up by apparently anyone searching the grounds? Was any classified or top secret material also left? Do you still feel that there was adequate security at the compound, considering it was not only overrun but sensitive personal effects and possibly other intelligence remained out for anyone passing through to pick up? Your statement on CNN sounded pretty defensive—do you think it’s the media’s responsibility to help secure State Department assets overseas after they’ve been attacked?
Let me know if you have a second. Michael
Reines’ lengthy response, which appears in its entirety at the BuzzFeed site, is mostly a continuation of his rant against CNN the day before.
There may in fact be some legitimacy to his criticism insofar as the network appears to have aired information from the diary despite wishes from Stevens’ family that it remain private. Yet, Reines’ obscene attack on a member of the press, not matter how provoked he may have felt, is inexcusable.
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