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This Sept. 13, 2012 photo shows a man walking in the rubble of the damaged U.S. consulate, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya. (AP)

Why the Benghazi affair is here to stay

The mainstream media hasn't given the Benghazi scandal the intense coverage it deserves - but that does not mean there aren't journalists working the story.

Two leading journalists covering the Benghazi scandal spoke to KTTH recently to explain why the scandal is in fact a scandal, and why this time it's probably not going away.

Washington Times journalist and columnist Jeffrey Birnbaum spoke on Monday to host David Boze about where the scandal will lead now that Judicial Watch has uncovered new documents that point toward a White House whitewashing of key facts.

Though Birnbaum said that Benghazi does not compare to Watergate, it is definitely a scandal, especially if there's evidence that the White House covered up the reasons for the attack to help Barack Obama defeat Mitt Romney.

"It's a political scandal," Birnbaum told Boze. "That the White House might've been trying to create a story that put distance between the president and an orchestrated terror attack right before voters went to the polls. If the president was saddled with a terrorist attack, his reelection could've been jeopardized.

"For a very long time, certainly beyond Election Day, there was a fiction that this was not a terror attack."

Boze wondered what involvement the press had in suppressing the Benghazi story, especially since some in left-leaning media continue to blame conservatives for over-emphasizing Benghazi. But, Birnbaum would not blame the Washington press corps for failing to focus on the story after Sept. 11, 2012. That's because the government was obscuring the facts.

"I'm not sure I would blame the media for this one," Birnbaum said. "The facts were missing, which took the news reporters out of the issue."

Some journalists have been dogging the Benghazi scandal from the beginning. Host Ben Shapiro spoke to former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson about her Benghazi investigation, and her eventual departure from CBS apparently because of the network's liberal bias (she is working on a book about her experiences, "Stonewalled: One Reporter's Fight for Truth in Obama's Washington").

Reacting to the revelation last week that White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote talking points about Benghazi for the media, Attkisson said she sought the same documents years ago, but never got them. (For the record, Ben Rhodes is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes).

Attkisson said that the press corps that covers Obama is not as adversarial or aggressive as the press corps that covered George W. Bush. That's partly because, she said, the Obama administration pushes back on reporters harder than Bush.

Since the story broke, there's been a campaign to make it controversial for reporters to cover Benghazi. That's caused some mainstream media agencies - Attkisson said that CBS and ABC were covering the story hard when it broke - to back off coverage.

But the internal decisions of media organizations is nothing compared to the White House's lack of transparency. Attkisson alleged that under Obama, getting access to information has gotten a lot harder.

"In general, [the White House] has shown a lack of responsiveness to the press when they ask for public information," Attkisson said. "They've clamped down on press freedoms."

Now, the journalists are getting some serious help from Congressional Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner announced on Friday he would set up a committee to investigate, and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry.

The bottom line is the reason Benghazi won't go away, Both Birnbaum and Attkisson said, is that there are still plenty of unanswered questions about it. Just because the facts are coming out slowly doesn't mean journalists have given up digging for the truth.

Neal McNamara, Writer, KTTH
Originally from the Northeast, Neal McNamara has worked as a news reporter for more than 10 years at newspapers across the U.S., landing most recently in Seattle.
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