CBS News is continuing to draw fire for withholding footage of a Sept. 12 interview with President Barack Obama in which he said it was "too early to tell" whether or not the previous day's attack in Benghazi, Libya, had been an act of terror.
That remark, which was not included in the "60 Minutes" package that
first aired on Sept. 23, was also left out of a subsequent package that
aired in the days following the second presidential debate, when
President Obama said that he had called the attack "an act of terror" in
his Rose Garden address on Sept. 12, which took place before the
interview. The remark was not released until yesterday, a fact Bret
Baier of Fox News called attention to earlier today.
In interviews with POLITICO, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said
CBS had been "explicitly misleading" in order "to protect President
Obama." Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said he was
"dumbstruck" by the network's decision not to report on such a
newsworthy item. On Fox News, Sen. John McCain said CBS was "not
carrying out their responsibilities of informing the American people,"
while conservative columnist Byron York wrote on Twitter that the
network had "a scandal on their hands."
Meanwhile, sources at rival television networks, who declined to speak on the record, expressed confusion over CBS's decision.
"It's surprising they held on to any of it," one source said. "If [we
had the interview], we would've put that stuff out the second it became
news -- again -- after the debate. All of it."
CBS News spokesperson Sonya McNair did not rebut the version of events as laid out by Baier.
“We’re proud of our Benghazi coverage, which from Libya to Washington
has been the most comprehensive original reporting of any network,"
McNair told POLITICO. She also provided a timeline of events, including the network's coverage..
(The veracity of McNair's assertion that CBS has had "the most
comprehensive original reporting" is a matter of debate. Fox News
reporters, chiefly Jennifer Griffin, have done a significant amount of
original reporting, much of which has led to new revelations and
important developments in what we know about the security situation
surrounding the attack.)
In the interview conducted on Sept. 12, Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes"
asked the president about his remarks in the Rose Garden: "Mr.
President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the
word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that
this was a terrorism attack?," Kroft asked.
"Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group
was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans," Obama said. (Continues)