Via Mediaite, if this were any other flack (besides Debbie Wasserman-Schultz), this afternoon’s clusterfark would have drawn some sort of quasi-apology. “I spoke inartfully,” “what I was trying to say was…,” etc. Not here. That’s not how Cutter rolls. Her shtick, apart from some theatrical defensiveness over whether anyone would dare accuse OFA of politicizing the attack, has two tracks. Track one: Point to Romney’s statement issued the morning after the attack as the first instance of politicization, which I guess we’ll call the “b-b-but he started it!” defense. That’s pitifully lame, as the complaint against the White House isn’t so much “politicization” as it is that they covered up information to mislead the American people, but the media handed Cutter this talking point by wetting themselves over Romney’s statement at the time so she’s going to use it. Which means in practice that Team O is perfectly fine with Romney commenting on Benghazi so long as he only says positive things.
Track two: Insist that the White House has been forthcoming about everything, with the shifting narrative afterward due entirely to shifts in the intelligence collected over time. We already know that that’s not true, but it does raise a question for me that I don’t think I’ve asked before. Namely, have we learned anything useful about what happened in Benghazi via an official White House or State Department release? I don’t have time right now to search systematically, but my memory from having written about this for the past four weeks is that every major revelation has come from some intelligence source whispering to Eli Lake at Newsweek or Jake Tapper at ABC or Mark Hosenball at Reuters or someone else. Cutter seems to want you to believe here that Jay Carney’s been trotting out to the podium every morning with a fresh new update of important facts to share with the public in the interest of keeping them informed. On the contrary, Carney’s been hiding under his desk to avoid this topic and most official comments on it have come via grudging reactions to questions posed by reporters based on information gleaned independently from others. (State’s belated oh-by-the-way admission about the phantom protest in front of the consulate on the eve of Issa’s hearings is a classic example.) Essentially, Cutter wants you to applaud the White House for having had the truth gradually dragged out of them. Here’s me starting a golf clap.
As an enjoyable gloss on this, go read BuzzFeed’s story about angry GOP consultants and ponderous media critics basically agreeing that the political coverage of this story would have been much different with a Republican in office. Democrats’ motives are pure, therefore security breakdowns and cover ups and “kill lists” and drone strikes and soaring warrantless electronic surveillance are, while newsworthy, not really anything to get too exercised about. That’s the whole story of the left’s reaction (or non-reaction) to O’s counterterror platform over the past four years. The media’s mostly casual interest in Benghazi is just a microcosm.
Update: Like I said, no apology:
Cutter emails: “I promise to resign as soon as Romney releases his taxes or gives a foreign policy speech with some policy in it.”
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 11, 2012