If you’ll recall, in the immediate wake of the breaking news of the riots in Cairo and Benghazi in September, the biggest question on the mainstream media’s collective mind was not anything in the vein of, Is any of this related to terrorism and has the Obama administration adequately protected our security interests?, but rather, Did Mitt Romney get ahead of himself by issuing a statement that criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the situation?
President Obama ran with the media’s spin, positing on 60 Minutes that America doesn’t need a president who would “shoot first and ask questions later,” but given the ensuing fallout (from this-wasn’t-terrorism to this-was-clearly-terrorism, and what with sending out Ambassador Rice to paint a false narrative to the American people and deriding a “disgusting, reprehensible” internet video in front of the United Nations, etcetera)… wasn’t it maybe President Obama and his administration who actually jumped the gun on this whole thing? ABC reporter Jack Tapper put the question to White House press secretary Jay Carney this afternoon:
TAPPER: President Obama, shortly after the attack told “60 Minutes” that regarding Mitt Romney’s response to the attacks, specifically in Egypt, the president said that Romney has a tendency to “shoot first and aim later.” Given the fact that so much was made out of the video that apparently had absolutely nothing to do with the attack in Benghazi, that there wasn’t even a protest outside the Benghazi post, didn’t President Obama shoot first and aim later? …
CARNEY: Right. I’m not disputing that there was a protest, but what we said at the time was that the intelligence community assessed that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo, ok? Again, this is a moving picture, and people who, on the night of an attack, or the day after, claim they know all the facts without making clear that what we know is based on preliminary information aren’t being straight. In some cases trying to politicize a situation that should not be politicized.
Carney went on, implying that it was wrong for Mitt Romney to seize on the events in the Middle East without knowing all of the facts, but Tapper’s point was made. The term “hoisted with your own petard” springs to mind.
Fox News’ Ed Henry also got in a good exchange with Carney, in which Carney insisted, “I never said, I never said we don’t know if it’s terrorism.”
But, as BuzzFeed points out… that’s not exactly what the White House was saying in the immediate aftermath of the attack, was it? On September 14th, Carney told the press pool: “We don’t have and do not have concrete evidence to suggest this was not in reaction to the film.” I’m pretty sure this is what “mincing words” looks like: