Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Susan Rice and the Talking Points

This Politico story purports to explain why Amb. Susan Rice was the sacrificial lamb who who had to go on five Sunday talk shows to push the discredited talking points.

Why Hillary Clinton didn’t do Sunday shows after Benghazi
Throughout the piece Glenn Thrush puts the most benign interpretation possible on the facts in front of him.

Why did Hillary refuse to do the interviews?

[Hillary] has a standing refusal [to do Sunday shows]. She hates them. She would rather die than do them,” said one aide on condition of anonymity. “The White House knows, so they would know not to even ask her.”
Could Hillary have political reasons for avoiding interviews where Benghazi would be topic 1, 2 and 3?

None of the officials was willing to speculate on why the secretary wouldn’t make an exception after such an extraordinary event — or whether Clinton had wanted to avoid a controversy that could have compromised her political future.
Thrush asked three people, couldn't get an answer, and decided to drop the subject. See, that's big league journalism, boys and girls.

Why Susan Rice?

Rice, who was close to the president’s team and regarded as a disciplined messenger who could be relied on to the deliver the talking points without going off message.
Thrush takes no notice of Rice's past history which might have made her the ideal choice for the White House's purposes:

Susan Rice and Benghazi
Our fearless journalist does give us two nuggets of pure gold. First, Rice was asked to "take one for the team" by "her friend Ben Rhodes, an influential National Security Council aide entrusted with Benghazi push-back duties." That would be the same Ben Rhodes who is the brother of the president of CBS News.

The second nugget explains why General Petraeus was a bad choice to repeat the talking points:

It was common knowledge around the West Wing and Foggy Bottom that Petraeus thought the sanitized talking points — scrubbed of references to Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan group suspected in the attack, at the request of a Clinton subordinate — were “a joke” and “utterly useless,” as one former administration official told POLITICO.

In a September 15th email obtained by CBS News, Petraeus wrote that “he doesn’t like the talking points” and he would prefer the administration “not use them.”
So the White House knew that the head of CIA thought the "CIA Talking Points" were a joke after State got through revising them. Yet, they sent Rice out there to repeat the "utterly useless" talking points.

And no one at the White House was willing to force Hillary Clinton to stand behind those talking points after her department turned them into a joke?

Thrush never raises the possibility that Hillary shared Petraeus's view of the revised talking points. That's a shame. It seems like an important question.

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