What Do Benghazi Conspiracy Theories and the Romney Electoral College Landslide Have in Common?

Answer:  they have both been the hallmarks of particular news and commentary outlets.  The same commentators who earnestly felt in their guts that the polling was all wrong and that Romney was going to win 300 or more electoral votes are also the ones who are convinced that Benghazi represents some sort of massive cover-up and is a scandal of epic proportions.  It now seems that some of these same folks are convinced that the Petraeus resignation is somehow linked to attempts to cover up the truth about Benghazi.

Now, I would note that being wrong about the election does not mean that these individuals are wrong about Benghazi.  However, it is worth pointing out that the predictions about the election were driven almost exclusively by wishful thinking regarding the end of the Obama administration.  And, it would seem, their views on Benghazi might likewise be motivated by hopes of ending (or at least severely damaging) that same administration.

As such, given the motive issue, and the recent clear example of shoddy analysis, perhaps some of need to take a step back and reassess their coverage of the Benghazi situation, yes?

I know that many think that the reason that Fox is so dedicated to this story is that they simply want the truth and are doggedly pursuing it.  And surely Rush and friends just want answers, yes?  Of course, that’s what they wanted with the poll data, too, wasn’t it?

Put it this way:  this might be a good time to start being a bit more skeptical of what David Frum called the “conservative entertainment complex” (if one is not already a skeptic).

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. swearyanthony says:

    Its Whitewater and Vince Foster nonsense all over again. Issa will start hearings any day now. Damn the facts.

  2. mantis says:

    It’s the cover up that didn’t cover anything up. They thought they could turn him into Carter, and were willing to believe any claim and ignore any fact to see that happen. As with most of their nonsense, it’s only working on those inside the bubble. Look now, here they come!

  3. Janiah says:

    You could end the story right now by explaining why we left our personnel all-but unguarded in the middle of an al Qaeda area despite their numerous requests for more security and why the people were not rescued. This story could have been over a long time ago if those answers had been given. Has the direct cause of death of Ambassador been released yet? No?

    Many people care deeply about national security even without watching Fox.

    The Vince Foster case cannot be fairly compared. There was an official story there. Some did not believe it, but at least there was one. Closest thing this has is “it was caused by a video,” and the White House dropped that excuse weeks ago. Now we’re supposed to believe Obama himself is wondering what Obama knew. Simple questions like “when was the President told the compound was under attack?” are answered by the White House press secretary with stupidities like “no one is more anxious than the President to know what happened here” as if he doesn’t know about the stuff he was involved in directly!

    The entire answer might be that some people screwed up and did not get the correct security and some technical reasons prevented rescue that were the fault more of circumstance than malfeasance. But the WHite House knows by now, and is refusing to say. It’s been two months. This story is not out there because of Fox. It is out there because people are appalled and want to know.

    Would you please imagine for a second the terror of being abandoned to a mob of heavily armed al Qaeda as it is attacking your office? Maybe if you could you would better understand why some people will not rest until they can learn what went wrong.

  4. Janis Gore says:

    You’re a little backwards, there, Janiah. There was never an official story about Vince Foster that I can remember.

    But this one needs to be an official story. Let’s have the truth, and as I understand, it’s ugly.

    Not Obams’s necessarily, but D.C.’s. What a messy bunch of people.

  5. Janis Gore says:

    And don’t cross me. I just did 100 stomach crunches and I wear cowgirl boots.

  6. Scott O says:

    Romney won in a landslide but the lame stream media won’t report it.

  7. David M says:

    @Janiah:
    Ansar al-Sharia is not al Qaeda and the ambassador died of smoke inhalation. In fact most of the details about the Attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi you’re asking about could be found on wikipedia.

  8. David M says:
  9. Janiah Hoff says:

    Wikapedia? Are you serious?

    I hope it was smoke inhalation, but there are contrary reports. This obviously is something the WH could state outright if so desired. (If I’m wrong and it has I would love to see where. Anonymous leaks to the news media don’t count because those are contradicting each other.)

    As to Vince Foster, the official story was that he was despondent (WSJ editorial in part to blame, supposedly, as well as cutthroat DC culture), drove to FT Marcy Park, and shot himself.

  10. Herb says:

    And, it would seem, their views on Benghazi might likewise be motivated by hopes of ending (or at least severely damaging) that same administration.

    Yep, that was pretty obvious from the moment of Romney’s dumb press conference (which he reportedly regretted almost instantly).

    In their zeal to turn it into a political problem for the president, the “conservative entertainment complex” has done all they can to make this story less clear.

    Take Janiah’s question from above: ““when was the President told the compound was under attack?””

    Seems reasonable, but then you think about it and it becomes less and less relevant. When was the president told? After the attack started, of course. And at that point, what do you want from the president? “We’re being attacked, Mr. President. What do we do?” “Put more bars on the windows!” C’mon….

    We suffered four years of birtherism because people were “just asking questions.” I’ve heard the same thing about Benghazi. “Just asking questions.”

    But they’re the wrong questions. I’m kind of glad the “conservative entertainment complex” is sniffing up Petraeus’s pant leg. Finally barking up the right tree!

    Now ask: What the hell was the CIA up to in Benghazi?

    (And that’s another thing…..not sure it’s sunk in yet that the Benghazi “consulate” was run by spooks.)

  11. Herb says:

    @Janiah Hoff:

    “Wikapedia? Are you serious?”

    Yes.

    The days when you can write off wikipedia as a source just by virtue of being wikipedia are long over.

    “This obviously is something the WH could state outright if so desired.”

    Not if it’s classified.

  12. Janiah Hoff says:

    Yes, that’s a huge question. We’re they moving weapons into Syria? If so, to which groups there? These are the questions we ask and wonder about while being told we are just being political. Though you seem to be wondering also.

    The question about when the Pres learned about this was at a press conference and Jay Carney gave the reply. The questioner was not one of the Fox people. Was probably not conservative media, given the venue. Reason asked was probably part of people wanting to know why there was no rescue.

  13. Janiah Hoff says:

    Give me a break. The WH classifies things; can unclassified. A cause of death as a state secret in a famous murder?

  14. Janiah Hoff says:

    As to Wikipedia, sorry, but it is good for leads and potential source material only, especially on controversial matters.

  15. Janiah Hoff says:

    It’s bedtime here. Will close with this: Anyone who does not care what happened, it is their right not to care, but it also is the right of every citizen to be concerned about such a ghastly government screwup as this, to want to know what happened and to put pressure on the govt to take security of our personnel very seriously.

  16. David M says:

    @Janiah Hoff:

    Wikapedia? Are you serious?

    Absolutely serious, knocking it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It contains this statement:

    At about 1 am the body of Ambassador Stevens was found by local citizens and taken to the Benghazi Medical Center. At the hospital Stevens was administered CPR for 90 minutes by Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid.[37] According to Abu Zeid, Stevens died from asphyxiation caused by smoke inhalation. A 22-year-old freelance videographer, Fahd al-Bakoush, later published a video[38] showing Libyans trying to extract the unconscious ambassador from a smoke-filled room,[39][40] where he was found unconscious, which confirms reports that suggested the U.S. envoy died of asphyxiation after the building caught fire.[41]

    Each one of those numbers is a link to a different news story. Why would I need an “official” government report to figure out what happened?

  17. anjin-san says:

    but it also is the right of every citizen to be concerned about such a ghastly government screwup as this

    Right. The same crowd that told us 9.11 was an inevitable event that no human power could have prevented wants to talk about this screwup…

  18. Herb says:

    @Janiah Hoff:

    “it also is the right of every citizen to be concerned about such a ghastly government screwup as this,”

    Agreed about every citizen’s right.

    But calling this “a ghastly government screwup” seems premature. Especially if you’re still asking when the president first learned of the attack.

    Seems to me it’s possible –indeed likely– we were attacked and defeated through no fault of our own. If it turns out the attack was provoked by US actions in the region, I’ll change my mind.

    But until then, I’ll blame the terrorists, thank you.

    As to Wikipedia, sorry, but it is good for leads and potential source material only, especially on controversial matters.

    Yes, and that’s what makes it useful.

    It’s a mistake if you thought citing Wikipedia meant you’re only supposed to read what’s on Wikipedia.

  19. Janiah Hoff says:

    I wonder how many of us, had we said goodbye to a dear family relation who had been posted there, and died the scant security, would object to the phrase “ghastly government screwup.” Of course the terrorists are directly responsible, but we knew they were there and that they might attack. The British knew and left.

  20. Janiah Hoff says:

    Some people are satisfied with news stories with anonymous sources that contradict one another at times. You don’t want to know much and that’s your right.

    But some of us have noticed that while some claim to know what happened, the press secretary of the President of the United States is claiming, as he did as recently as Friday 11/9/12, that no one wants to learn what happened more than the President.

    So you know, and the President does not.

    What a farce.

  21. Herb says:

    @Janiah Hoff:

    Of course the terrorists are directly responsible, but we knew they were there and that they might attack.

    Yes, we did….

    That’s why 23 out of the 30 people stationed at the Benghazi consulate were CIA operatives.

  22. Herb says:

    @Janiah Hoff:

    “So you know, and the President does not.”

    The president knows more than you think. You should just not expect him to discuss classified details of covert operations in a press conference or a talk show interview.

    Read the book when it comes out next year. I bet Mark Bowden will write it.

  23. Just Me says:

    #1 I have never believed Romney was winning in a landslide. I have pretty much held the position that the election would be close (it was) but that Obama had the edge-especially in the electoral college (he did).

    #2 Benghazi has bothered me since the beginning.

    Obama and his admin insisted it was a movie and scapegoated to men to do so (I knew the day after that it was terorists, and the Libyan government was saying it was terrorists and there was no protest-the Libyan government was more honest than my own on this issue).

    I would like to know-

    When did the president find out, and what orders did he give?

    Why wasn’t air support provided?

    Why were pleas for more security denied?

    Why wasn’t AFRICOM fully supplied wit resources (there were no planes, no quick reaction troops or anything for the AFRICOM general to send) when it was created in 2008?

    I think there are also a lot of questions about the CIA’s presence and mission in Benghazi.

    Why didn’t our government help get the team stuck at the airport on the road for 4 hours (a small CIA team flew from Tripoli but was stuck at the Benghazi airport for 4 hours). Seems like this is when you get the president or Hillary on the phone and pressure them to let our people get on the road.

    There are a lot of questions, and the administration seems to have dropped the ball. The president hasn’t even held a real, question and answer press conference on this issue. Granted he almost never has them on anything so it is par for the course with him.

    Oh, and while there may be conspiracies about how the Ambassador and diplomat died, I haven’t read anything that questions the smoke inhalation determination. Reports I have read basically say that the safe room the men had retreated to was poorly ventilated.

    I don’t think this is at all comparable to Vince Foster. There are some real issues involved here-and at the very least the breakdowns that happened need to be addressed (like light security in a volatile nation and the fact that AFRICOM has almost no assets at its disposal even though it has been in existence for 4 years).

  24. Janiah Hoff says:

    @Herb: So the White House is lying. That makes me feel a lot better.

  25. Herb says:

    @Janiah Hoff: The CIA is lying. The White House is covering for them.

    Sometimes that doesn’t work out so well, it’s true, but you know how it is. Spies will be spies.

  26. Al says:

    Rather than indulge in another conspiracy theory circle jerk over Benghazi wouldn’t it be more relevant to discuss the fact that if the “conservative entertainment complex” couldn’t get a simple mathematical model like the electoral college right then can they really be expected to get a truly complex model, like, say, the climate right?

  27. john personna says:

    The Benghazi boosters have tempest in a teapot.

    They think “this is such a good tempest, you should really look in my teapot.”

    It is an appalling lack of global perspective.

  28. James in LA says:

    @Janiah Hoff: Wikapedia? Are you serious?

    Yes wikipedia. You give away your laziness by complaining about a source that has clear citations so you can decide for yourself the quality of the information. Oh that’s right. Perhaps I expect to much in the “decide for yourself” department.

    Did you not just learn that content is king? That wishful thinking is for the suckers of Karl Rove?

  29. anjin-san says:

    I have pretty much held the position that the election would be close (it was)

    Obama 332
    Romney 206

    You should probably look the world “close” up in the dictionary.

  30. anjin-san says:

    I wonder how many of us, had we said goodbye to a dear family relation who had been posted there, and died the scant security, would object to the phrase “ghastly government screwup.”

    There is a recent interview with Ambassador Steven’s sister that you should probably check out.

  31. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    OK, I’m coming around to agree that Benghazi was no big deal. The two State Department guys were Democratic appointees, so no great loss. And the CIA guys disobeyed orders, so their deaths are on them. If they’d obeyed, they’d still be alive.

    Time to Lean Forward and leave this all behind.

  32. Jim Henley says:

    It’s eerie how the only State Department employees American conservatives ever evinced any concern and respect for could all be stationed in the same location.

  33. James Joyner says:

    @Jim Henley: Demonstrably untrue: The Iran embassy hostages of 1979-80 got plenty of conservative sympathy. It just so happens that most of the other American diplomats are a bunch of effete, French-speaking elitists who aren’t from Real America.

  34. Jim Henley says:

    @James Joyner: My bad. Two locations. 😉

  35. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @James Joyner: Many of them might be “a bunch of effete, French-speaking elitists,” but they’re our “bunch of effete, French-speaking elitists.”

    I’m sorry you don’t see the difference between our bashing our own, and others murdering our own. It ought to be something that transcends poltiics. Sad to see it isn’t.

  36. @Janiah: @Just Me:

    I was going to try and address some of your comments here, but instead deal with some of them (or, at least, I try to more fully explain myself) here.

  37. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea the Coward:

    I’m sorry you don’t see the difference between our bashing our own, and others murdering our own. It ought to be something that transcends poltiics. Sad to see it isn’t.

    Says the guy whose only interest in the deaths of these Americans comes from a desire for political gain.

  38. anjin-san says:

    I’m sorry you don’t see the difference between our bashing our own, and others murdering our own.

    Are you not aware that you are addressing someone who has put his own ass on the line in the defense of this country?

    No matter how high the idiot bar is set, you clear it with ease.

  39. jukeboxgrad says:

    just me:

    I have pretty much held the position that the election would be close (it was)

    In 2004, many people claimed that GWB had a mandate. This group included not just Dick Cheney and Charles Krauthammer, but also many supposedly liberal reporters (link). Let’s review some numbers:

    Popular vote margin in 2004: 2.46%
    Popular vote margin in 2012: 2.64% as of now, and will probably be about 3% once all the votes are counted. Last time any R won with a bigger margin: 1988.

    Electoral vote margin in 2004: 35.
    Electoral vote margin in 2012: 126.

    If GWB had a mandate in 2004, then Obama has a mandate now. And this election was not “close.” 2000 was “close.”

  40. Jon H says:

    Just Me wrote: “Why wasn’t air support provided?”

    a) There was none available

    b) They wouldn’t know who was who on the ground. What would be the point of flying around idiotically blasting away at anything that moves? This wasn’t the rescue of Pvt Lynch, in the middle of a war. This was a group of terrorists taking it upon themselves to attack our facility in the middle of a sovereign country.

    Drones aren’t magic. AC130 gunships aren’t magical sniper platforms.

  41. @Jon H:

    Drones aren’t magic. AC130 gunships aren’t magical sniper platforms.

    Indeed.

  42. SteveJ says:

    Prof. Taylor strikes me as another one of those naive dupes — along the lines of people who think the moon landings were real.

    There is ample evidence the landings were filmed in the Arizona desert.