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The Hill’s Cusack Recognizes Media Failure on Benghazi; Carlson Blames Right Wing Media

Asked on Sunday’s Reliable Sources if the wider media dismissed the Weekly Standard story, by Stephen Hayes about the Benghazi talking points getting altered to take out any references to terrorism, because of his affiliation with conservative media, The Hill newspaper Managing Editor Bob Cusack agreed.

Then he turned his criticism on his colleagues: “If you look at the time line of how this administration dealt with Benghazi, there’s been a lot of contradictions from the get go. So, the media hasn’t looked at it as extensively as they should have.”

Refreshing to hear, but quite an understatement.

Former Time magazine reporter Margaret Carlson, not so surprisingly, blamed the conservative media for why the Washington press corps ignored the Hayes story only to pounce on a similar one when reported days later by ABC’s Jonathan Karl: “The right wing went so far on this story, ‘it’s Watergate, it’s impeachable,’ we couldn’t hear Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard. It did take somebody who is just a meat and potatoes reporter.”

Cusack also scolded not conservatives for dragging Hillary Clinton into the scandal, but the media for not earlier recognizing her relevance: “I think the focus on Hillary Clinton was a bit delayed. I think a lot of news organizations didn’t realize, or didn’t report, that this really could be an issue for her going forward and, of course, in 2016, in a political context.”

From the May 12 Reliable Sources on CNN:

HOWARD KURTZ: Another interesting side bar, Bob Cusack, is that five or six days ago Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard had much the same story, not quite in the same detail as Jon Karl did, about changes in the White House talking points, or the administration talking points, I should call them. He had examples and he had quotes. It didn’t get anywhere near the attention that it did when ABC News reported it.

BOB CUSAK, THE HILL: I think it’s the lens. I mean, Steve Hayes is a good reporter and been reporting on this extensively.

KURTZ: Was it too easy for people to say, oh, that’s the Weekly Standard, “he’s a Fox News contributor?”

CUSACK: Absolutely, “he’s biased,” but, clearly, he had the information, as well, and not getting the credit that Jonathan Karl did. But I do think, I mean if you look at the time line of how this administration dealt with Benghazi, there’s been a lot of contradictions from the get go. So, the media hasn’t looked at it as extensively as they should have.

KURTZ: And some people would say that is either because the media are, many in the mainstream media, are protecting the administration, protecting Hillary Clinton because, obviously, a lot of people see this as a proxy attack on somebody who could run in 2016. Is there something to that criticism?

CUSACK: I think the focus on Hillary Clinton was a bit delayed. I think a lot of news organizations didn’t realize, or didn’t report, that this really could be an issue for her going forward and, of course, in 2016, in a political context.

...

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: The other thing, back to your point, is that because the right wing went so far on this story, “it’s Watergate, it’s impeachable,” we couldn’t hear Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard. It did take somebody who is just a meat and potatoes reporter.

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.