"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson

The Media: What Difference Does it Make?

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 10
Publish Date: 
Thu, 05/09/2013


Stretching Oscar Wilde’s adage, “I never put off til tomorrow what I can do the day after,” some in the mainstream media have finally started to Think Again about the Benghazi attack launched last year on the anniversary of 9/11 – thanks to new revelations by high-ranking State Department whistleblowers including experts in security, counter-terrorism, and the number two-ranking diplomat in Libya under slain Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Contrary to the “spin” that the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam YouTube video, the truth is that American officials knew “from the get-go” it was a premeditated terrorist attack by al Qaeda-linked terrorists. In fact, failures to heed Ambassador Stevens’ calls for increased security due to heightened terrorist threats, and decisions to have Special Forces “stand-down” rather than respond to the attack, proved lethal for four brutally murdered Americans.

While most of the media prefers covering the Jodi Arias murder trial and the coming out of gay basketball player Jason Collins, CBS News elder statesman Bob Schieffer and colleague Sharyl Attkisson aren’t buying Whitehouse Press Secretary Jay Carney’s line that “Benghazi happened a long time ago.”  Last Sunday on Face the Nation, Schieffer probed “whether there was a cover-up” based on “startling new details about the Benghazi attack... totally at variance with what some American officials were saying in public on this broadcast five days after the attack.”

Schieffer cited an investigative report by the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes describing the wholesale rewriting of the CIA’s post-attack talking points, edited to eliminate references to terrorism, Al Qaeda and five previous attacks in Libya. These talking points never mentioned an anti-Islamic YouTube video, providing fresh evidence that “senior Obama officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults.”

As if in the Soviet Union where dissidents joked, “the future is known; it’s the past that’s always changing,” the fraudulent narrative about a YouTube video was peddled by Secretary of State Clinton before the victims’ caskets and their grieving families, UN Ambassador Susan Rice on five Sunday news shows, President Obama in his September address to the UN, and consistently by Press Secretary Carney.

Weeks later, those who disputed this false narrative because it jeopardized US national security – including Mitt Romney -- were accused by “media mavens” like Meet the Press’ David Gregory of “launch(ing) a political attack even before facts of embassy violence were known.” But wasn’t the administration guilty of politicizing Benghazi by deliberately misleading the world about a deadly terrorist attack they failed to anticipate?

Consider Watergate, another cover-up that preceded a presidential election, though there were no deaths or lost consulates. Imagine Woodward and Bernstein averting their eyes had Richard Nixon deflected responsibility for Watergate by accusing his opponents of “politicizing” the matter or asking, as Hillary Clinton asked about Benghazi, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Good journalists know what difference it makes, as did Abraham Lincoln who said, “If given the truth, [Americans] can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”  Yet the media – CBS News notwithstanding – seem to have abandoned their constitutionally protected role to safeguard Americans from the government, inclining instead to protect the government from Americans.

Why else do they show scant interest that no senior administration officials have been held accountable for the four deaths, nor have the terrorists who launched the attack -- although the YouTube filmmaker is in jail. Considering the terrorist-infested region, why didn’t leaders equipped with the world’s strongest military have contingency plans available to rescue the two Navy Seals who lasted seven-hours before succumbing. Sixty-plus years post-conflict, we have military capacity in Germany, Japan and South Korea; why not North Africa?

As Vladimir Lenin understood, government accountability derives from an active media and an informed citizenry. That’s why the Soviet people were subjects, not citizens. As Lenin explained, "Ideas are much more fatal things than guns. Why should any man be allowed to buy a printing press and disseminate pernicious opinion calculated to embarrass the government?” 

But America’s Founders guaranteed a free press so we’d be informed citizens -- not helpless subjects. As Thomas Jefferson said, “When the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” All wasn’t safe for Americans abandoned in Benghazi, which reminds us that as a self-governing people, it’s our duty to be informed enough to safeguard one another’s life and liberty.

This is the answer to Hillary’s question -- “what difference does it make?” When armed with the truth, “We the People” can humble governments, secure justice, frustrate deceit, help the disenfranchised, and know the world that is, not the utopia politicians try to sell us.

Think Again -- Shouldn't all presidential aspirants be able to answer Hillary's question?

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Framing Islam: an analysis of

Framing Islam: an analysis of U.S. ethnic and mainstream coverage of the Fort Hood shooting

I wrote my graduate thesis about media coverage of the Fort Hood shootings in the New York Times (a daily read for me) and various Muslim and Islamic print media products.

I am a real estate writer and an adjunct journalism instructor. I am proud to be a journalist. Still, in conducting my graduate research, I realized the mainstream media failed to place the story in context for readers.

The findings [http://scholarworks.csun.edu/xmlui/handle/10211.2/3580] might serve as inspiration for one of your "think again" blogs.

Here is the abstract: Domestic terrorism has been linked to Islam and Muslims since 9/11. This framing analysis study examines how the New York Times and various U.S. Arab and Muslim print agencies constructed news coverage of the shooting massacre at the Fort Hood Military base, a U.S. Army post in Killeen, Texas, on November 5, 2009. The work considered dominant news frames. The findings underscore the need for an informed press and accurate representations of Islam and Muslim subjects in coverage of terror stories. The results show that mainstream newspapers embraced a mostly episodic frame in covering the Fort Hood story that placed the Muslim gunman, U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, outside the norm. The shooting is framed as an attack on the nation. Ethnic media adopted a thematic approach to coverage but reinforced many common stereotypes by adopting a defensive stance. The attack is framed as system failure and the product of an unjust war.

Excellent piece Melanie.

Excellent piece Melanie. Let's try to make sure that people don't forget about this in 2016 if Clinton tries to run!

Thank you for being what a

Thank you for being what a real journalist should be!! I wish we had more like you. If we did, the truth about Benghazi might finally reach the people waiting for the next episode of Honey BooBoo. It is an outrage that 4 brave Americans were allowed to die while bravely fighting expecting help to come.

My father worked on the campaigns of Senator Howard Baker. I remember well when he sat us down and told us about Watergate, (I was a teenager at the time). He talked to us about the gravity of lying and about doing the "honorable thing" by stepping down. My parents were proud to work for a man they felt was honoring the job of senator and why Senator Baker was one of the ones who told President Nixon to step down. Its a pity there are few Senator Bakers present in the Washington of today, and none on the Democrat side at all.

Keep fighting the good fight. We need you!! It's good people like you willing to get the message of truth and honor out there that will make the difference.

Good one. I don't know how

Good one. I don't know how these media people can look in the mirror (or this administration for that matter). Deliberately avoiding huge news stories to protect a political person then accusing the other side of doing precisely what you're doing. Has the ring of algore telling us how bad oil is, then praising the fact that al jezeera has oil money so as to pay him $500M (I think Al Jazeera buying his horrible network was a payback for something behind the scenes way back when.

As usual, a very well

As usual, a very well presented and concise op-ed piece. I believe that the missing element in our Government is Patriotism. I am old and can remember Truman, Eisenhower, etc. and their reaction to Benghazi would have been immediate and decisive with the only intent to save American citizens’ lives. Now, our Government has to parse the political implications of any action before acting. Political power comes first with the lives of Americans far down the list of priorities.

No one knew or could have

No one knew or could have known if any relieving force would be walking into a trap. Mogadishu.......

In our entire military there is only one force, the Marine
Corps TRAP, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel force that trains and is armed for and has helo insertion options for hot LZ’s.

It is also the only force that goes in heavy, with weapons platoons that can terminate all opposing forces and anyone foolish enough to stay around.

The problem is that they are only deployed on MEF’s, Marine Expeditionary Forces of which we have only three deployed worldwide at any time. Two are dedicated to the Persian Gulf - Afghan theater.

One is deployed to the eastern Med and has been committed to the Syrian - Jordan - Israel - Egypt theater. Libya was not considered an active threat as compared to the eastern Med.

We can only do so much. There was a SST (site Security Team) on site that was pulled out even though it was free and available to Dept of State for another 6 months.

All this talk about this unit or that 4 SF personnel could have gone in is just ignorant talk. This is the real world folks, instantly desperate by a clever and constantly probing enemy.

Powerful and on point. Proud

Powerful and on point. Proud of you. Am forwarding that one to Walid Phares.

The Benghazi hearing did not clarify why the US Administration so strenuously avoids admitting the Salafi Jihadi militias attacked. The first story out of the Administration was about a video trailer, instead of the facts on the ground. The architects of strategic communications in the Administration refused to expose the real enemy behind the attack, the Salafi Jihadists, and instead tried to mobilize the public against a mythical accusation of Islamophobia that plays into the hands of Jihadists and the Islamists worldwide in their propaganda efforts. Why, in the world would they do that? Removing the actual Jihadi factor from the talking points and replacing it with the false charge of Islamophobia is the essence of this debacle of deception. The hearing failed to define and expose why and how US national security doctrine has declined into chaos. Why?

Please, perhaps Coburn's mysterious, breaking "glaring State omission" this Am will help answer the Mother of All Whys.

I don’t like to be misled by

I don’t like to be misled by the media. That said, I do think there’s a lot of information that the general public is not and should not be privy to for reasons of national security. In the case of Benghazi, I question why Stevens’ request for additional security was ignored and believe we have a right to know the answer to that question. I don’t worry though that we don’t know the particulars about the attack being Al Queda-related or not and the whole thing with the YouTube video was a silly diversion.

Great work Melanie!

Great piece Melanie! The

Great piece Melanie! The problems we have with our government today are made worse by a media that will go along with the Administration and its political party! A free media works as London as the media if free thinking!

Most Americans live in the

Most Americans live in the “bubble” created by the mainstream media and believe that the version of the world the MSM gives them IS the truth. It’s much like the pernicious effect of propaganda in a totalitarian state in which even the people who know it’s distorted can accept it if they drop their mental resistance. Trying to change the minds of people who have accepted this distorted reality is close to impossible.

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