If I had tried to guess on Saturday which Sunday talk show would get the most contentious, the pairing of John McCain with NBC’s David Gregory on Meet the Press would have come in last on my most-likely list. After all, this clip starts off by discussing the confirmation of Chuck Hagel, which McCain has already said should take place. McCain threw a wrench in the plans last week by supporting a hold/filibuster on his former friend and Senate colleague, though, and Gregory wants to know why. That’s when the fireworks began, as McCain alleged a “massive cover-up” about the White House handling of the Benghazi attack, and Gregory acted as though it was the first time he’s heard of such a claim:
Gregory then pressed McCain on what the Arizona senator meant by “a massive cover-up.”
“I’m asking you, do you care whether four Americans died?” McCain said. “And shouldn’t people be held accountable for the fact that four Americans died?”
“Well, what you said was the cover-up–a cover-up of what?” Gregory asked.
“Of the information concerning the deaths of four brave Americans,” McCain replied. “The information has not been forthcoming. You obviously believe that it has. I know that it hasn’t. And I’ll be glad to send you a list of the questions that have not been answered, including ‘What did the president do and who did he talk to the night of the attack on Benghazi?'”
McCain continued: “Why did the president for two weeks, for two weeks during the heat of the campaign continue to say he didn’t know whether it was a terrorist attack or not? Is it because it interfered with the line ‘Al Qaeda has [been] decimated’?
And ‘everything’s fine in that in that part of the world’? Maybe. We don’t know. But we need the answers. Then we’ll reach conclusions. But we have not received the answers. And that’s a fact.”
The answers we have received haven’t exactly cleared things up, either. Leon Panetta testified that no one in the White House, from the President down, bothered to keep in touch with him on the night of the attack after an initial briefing at its start. Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Martin Dempsey knew of the warnings from murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens about the vulnerability of the consulate, and pronounced himself surprised that Hillary Clinton was unaware of them. The White House hasn’t even offered to make the survivors available for the intelligence committees to get answers.
All of this sounds like a stonewall operation to cover up massive incompetence, which usually would tend to interest journalists. David Gregory, on the other hand, doesn’t see an issue. Take that for what it’s worth.
Of course, the same could be said about the other news from this interview:
Earlier, the former Republican presidential nominee said he expects Hagel to be confirmed as defense secretary even though he doesn’t plan to vote for him.
“I don’t believe he is qualified,” McCain said. “But I don’t believe that we should hold up his nomination any further.”
Well, if he’s not qualified, why wouldn’t the Senate hold up his nomination? One could flip McCain’s question to Gregory back on him — “Do you care” that the Department of Defense will be headed by an unqualified appointee, or not?