Fox News’ “America Live” recently presented an interview with Christian Whiton. The host began the segment by telling viewers there was “a new theory” on the Benghazi tragedy. The CIA, the host reported, was running missiles through Libya and a “bunch of those missiles were stolen.”
The host then played a sound bite featuring Joseph di Genova who claimed “sources” told him “400 missiles were diverted” into “the hands of some very ugly people.” Di Genova suggested the missiles might be used to shoot down an airliner.
A viewer would be left understandably shaken and angry, especially since the new allegation was layered on top of many others about Benghazi Fox News has pushed.
This segment was based entirely on di Genova’s comments so, question one, who is Joseph di Genova? Is he a former CIA spy? Was he in Libya during the alleged missile theft? From whom did he learn missiles fell into the hands of “ugly people,” i.e. Islamic terrorists?
These are all basic questions any objective journalist would ask in order to establish a source’s credibility — but not Fox News.
That’s because Joseph di Genova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, are Washington lawyers, long-time Republican insiders, and frequent Fox News guests with a history of being untruthful while trading on bogus controversies. For example, they represent Greg Hicks, one of the so-called Benghazi “whistle blowers.”
Thus, di Genova has a conflict of interest, so his credibility is suspect; no professional journalist would take him solely at his word.
The second question is, why did Fox News provide a platform for a biased source to make his unsubstantiated allegations?
Virtually everything the Obama administration told Americans about Benghazi was corroborated months ago by former CIA Director, Gen. David Petraeus, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, the commander of the Libyan security team, Adm. Mike Mullen and Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who headed the independent Accountability Review Board that investigated Benghazi.
They agreed the murder of four Americans was a tragedy but not a scandal, explaining why Republicans in Congress have failed to find one.
After smearing the integrity of Mullen and Pickering because they didn’t deliver the conclusions it wanted, Fox News spent this week politicizing Benghazi on the anniversary of the attack.
Last question: Who is Christian Whiton? He’s a conservative author who worked in the State Department as a security official. Whiton has recently found fame at Fox News asking Benghazi questions that have already been answered.
Whiton was probably supposed to support di Genova’s allegations, so the Fox host must have been surprised when Whiton said the lawyer’s story “didn’t add up.”
Not that it matters. The audience heard “400 missiles,” “stolen,” “ugly people,” and “airliners,” so the Benghazi non-scandal lives on at Fox News. If all goes well, di Genova’s tale will be repeated by other conservative media, finding currency inside the conservative bubble.
Sure enough, World Net Daily, Town Hall, CNS News and other right wing web sites posted di Genova’s unsubstantiated charges as fact.
To review: A cable news network run by a former Republican operative, Roger Ailes, presents allegations made by another Republican operative hoping a third Republican operative will affirm them.
All that’s missing is anything fair or balanced.
When he appeared on Fox News last November, military expert and author Tom Ricks summarized Fox News’ chicanery thusly: “Benghazi was hyped by this network especially … because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party.”
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer in Kennesaw.