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NPR’s Fact Check Ignores Trump’s Strongest Charge

The omissions in NPR’s fact checking of Sunday night’s debate could have been predicted nearly one year ago, on October 22, 2015, to be precise.

You can be excused for forgetting the significance of that day. It was the day that Democrats let it be known that candidate Hillary Clinton’s dishonesty and dereliction of duty as Secretary of State did not, and would not, matter as they considered her to be their nominee for President of the USA.

It was the day that Hillary Clinton appeared before the House Select Committee on Benghazi and testified about the events leading up to the day that our ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans, were burned to death at a consular facility in Benghazi, Libya. Her reaction and lies in the days, weeks, and months that followed have exposed her unpreparedness and her disregard for anybody but herself and her family.

So what, exactly, did the Benghazi hearing have to do with NPR’s so-called fact check?

On the night of the Benghazi hearing, Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep tweeted “Making Clinton go 11 hours seems a political gift to her, like a Senate filibuster: people will hear she lasted, no matter what was said.” His tweet, like much of the media coverage of the time, framed the story as one of endurance, instead of one of lies, incompetence, and neglect leading to the killing of a US ambassador and three Americans.

Framing the Benghazi hearings as being about Hillary did have its desired effect: Curious listeners and readers were told that there was nothing new to learn. The assumption being that NPR’s devoted listeners know everything already. Inskeep’s tweet, shortly after 7PM, was followed by a story a few hours later on NPR’s Politics page headlined “Clinton Endures An 11-Hour Grilling Before Benghazi Committee”. It was all about the endurance. Those that endure are the true heroes.

The next morning’s coverage on NPR’s flagship program Morning Edition, co-hosted by Inskeep, maintained the party line that Hillary was a trooper who endured an agonizing 11-hours of grilling by a hostile group of Republicans. To question whether there really was no new information was to have the question turned around and asked of the original questioner. In other words, if you seriously doubted that there was nothing new to learn, you’d have to sift through 11 hours of testimony (or “grilling”) for yourself.

One of many things that we learned that day was that the Secretary of State was sent multiple requests for help. They pleaded for extra security for the mission. In fact, there were over six hundred emails requesting additional security. Clinton claimed that she had not seen a single one of them. Not one. We learned this during the Benghazi hearings, no thanks to NPR.

There were 83 requests for extra security in July, August and early September 2012—part of the over 600 emails that didn’t reach the Secretary’s desk. During the same time period, we learned during the hearing, was that Clinton family confidante and trusted advisor Sydney Blumenthal had sent the Secretary 150 emails about the situation in Libya. Every single one of his emails did reach her desk. Congressman Mike Pompeo remarked incredulously:


“But a man who was a friend of yours, who had never been to Libya, didn’t know much about it, at least that was his testimony, didn’t know much about it, every one of those reports that he sent on to you that had to do with situations on the ground in Libya, those made it to your desk. You asked for more of them. You read them. You corresponded with him. And yet the folks that worked for you didn’t have the same courtesy.”

This damning indictment from Congressman Mike Pompeo was the substance of Donald Trump’s most serious charge against Hillary Clinton last Sunday night at the debate.

Clinton’s optimism, expressed in this well-rehearsed quip “I have a very positive and optimistic view about what we can do together. That’s why the slogan of my campaign is stronger together” was subjected to fact checking by their White House Correspondent Tamara Keith, one of its big guns that routinely contributes to NPR’s hard-hitting journalism.

What about Trump’s charges about 600 requests for security in Benghazi that never reached Clinton’s desk? We have no idea if that’s a fact or not, not from NPR’s fact check of the second presidential debate.

NPR’s listeners know everything they need to know. NPR thinks so.

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