Not coverage, CNN’s Jake Tapper distinguishes for Hugh Hewitt, because Benghazi got a lot of coverage … as a White House story rather than a State Department story. That may be the difference in comparing media coverage, Tapper suggests, but agrees with Hewitt that the media has pressed Chris Christie much harder as the man at the top than they have Hillary Clinton as the woman at the top of the State Department when the attack on Benghazi succeeded. Tapper has another question, though — why isn’t Hillary getting on top of this story?
Hugh Hewitt: Second big story, you were covering Chris Christie yesterday. E.J. Dionne was on with me to talk about the same thing. But he asked the question why didn’t Chris Christie investigate more what happened on the bridge, and so I asked him well, what about Hillary? Why didn’t she investigate more about Benghazi? And he said yeah, okay, game, set, match, he walked into it. What do you think? Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton, both frontrunners, both dogged by what they did know and when did they know it stories. Are they getting the same level of MSM scrutiny on their major scandal stories?
Jake Tapper: When…MSM or MSN?
HH: MSM, mainstream media, Manhattan-Beltway media elites, yeah.
JT: I thought you were referring to a specific channel.
HH: No, no.
JT: Are they getting the same degree of scrutiny? No, of course not, but I think Benghazi was…
HH: Explain what you mean. Who’s getting more?
JT: Well obviously, Christie is getting a lot more attention when it comes to Bridgegate than Hillary got when it came to Benghazi. I think that there are complicated reasons for it. I don’t know that Benghazi, pardon me, I don’t know that Benghazi got less coverage in aggregate than Bridgegate got. You know, I think Benghazi was in a lot of ways, that was covered, well, I just know like when I was covering Benghazi right after it happened, it was almost more like a White House story than it was a State Department story, because the White House took control of it, Hillary Clinton didn’t go out on the Sunday shows, Susan Rice did, obviously. And then the story turned to, and I did a lot of my coverage in 2012, September and October about the State Department not meeting security requests, and that was, it was not focused, per se, on Hillary Clinton as much as it was to the State Department not fulfilling those requests.
HH: But we don’t know what she did that night, do we, Jake Tapper? And no one bothers her about it. She’s been allowed to walk away whereas Christie’s dump trucked a bunch of subpoenas two weeks later.
JT: Hillary Clinton, I do not know what she did that night. I do think that, you know, she was, look, I don’t, I’m not trying to make excuses for anybody. I’m just trying to look at the perspective of Christie is an incumbent governor. He has an adversarial Democratic legislature. They are launching subpoenas. Christie, it’s also the nature of Christie to go out there and give a two-hour plus press conference and answer all those questions, although he has laid low since then. But still, that was one of the longest press conferences in modern American politics. Hillary Clinton was on her way out, and you know, I can’t tackle her. I haven’t had a chance to interview her since Benghazi happened. I don’t even know, has she done interviews? I think she did some interviews on her way out.
HH: It’s a pretty stark contrast, isn’t it, between Christie’s two hour longest day press conference and Hillary hiding?
JT: So a big contrast between Christie’s press conference and most politicians in scandals, but certainly, of course what you’ve said is right. I mean, most politicians don’t then go out there and give two hour press conferences. John McCain did like a 90 minute one after Keating Five.
JT: And Gerry Ferraro did a 90 minute one when her finances were under question when she was the VP nominee in ’84. But generally speaking, you don’t get that. No, I mean, I would, you know, I would like to, there are lots of questions that I would like to ask both Christie and Hillary, but especially Hillary. You’re right. I mean, the things is, that I think is a mistake for the Hillary people, and to a lesser extent, the Christie people, because I’m sure he will soon do an interview, but for the Hillary people is, the issue isn’t going away. I’m sure she has explanations. I’m sure she has answers to questions. Why not give them if you intend on possibly seeking office someday? That’s…
HH: Well, and Jake, just to plant a question, why didn’t you call back Gregory Hicks after you talked to him at2am later when the Ambassador’s dead and the Embassy’s overrun, or the annex is overrun.
JT: Hugh, if you have an interview, if you have to set up an interview between me and Secretary Clinton, that is very exciting news for me.
Tapper says he’s sure that Hillary has some sort of answers to these questions, presumably not just “What difference at this point does it make?” — from one year ago today, by the way. That answer won’t work on the campaign trail when Benghazi and the entire arc of Libya policy during her tenure comes under scrutiny. Why wait for that when she can address the issue now? If she has answers that will defuse it, providing them sooner rather than later works better, as Tapper points out with his examples of Geraldine Ferraro, John McCain, and Christie himself.
So far, it looks like “What difference” is the only answer, and the Clintons are hoping that people will just forget about Benghazi. The media might not be as interested, but the story isn’t going away.