Why Benghazi Matters

Posted by David A. Peterson on 15. May 2014 in Issues |

How the news media replaced journalist with story tellers.

I’ve been contemplating the impact the news media has on shaping our views for a long time. I define the news media as the combination of Internet searches, traditional news outlets, cable news, opinion shows, bloggers, social media, and everyone else vying for attention on newsworthy subjects. My definition of the news media gives us all vast resources of information that help formulate our personnel views. It allows us all to participate, follow, read, watch, and listen to any specific viewpoint.

For all its good attributes the news media has severely goofed up one traditional aspect of its work – it no longer reports the news, it now tells the news. Reporters are no longer required or even expected to completely investigate a story, they are now expected and required to tell a story that appeases the political views of its audience.

Clearly I’m not the only one that feels this way, a family member sent me a video of Congressman Gowdy who was chosen to lead the Special Committee on Benghazi (Click Here For Video). In the video Representative Gowdy made an impassioned speech about why the story continues to have legs. He points out that one of the reasons it continues is that the press failed to give the story proper oversight.

I think it is fair to say that ½ the country feels strongly that there is more to the story yet clearly the other ½ feels the matter is closed.

Before I continue I want to let you know where I’m coming from and why I believe it matters that the story continues:

  1. It matters because the President’s people lied to win the 2012 election. If a major terrorist event had occurred (on 9/11 no less) then the remaining weeks of the election would have been shaped by that topic. Terrorism and the non US response would have dominated the debates, not when did they know or who knew what.
  2. It matters because if you are a civil servant serving overseas are you sure your leaders have your best interest at heart? Is anyone reading your emails when you ask for help? Who is, will be, or should be in charge during a crisis? When the next movie is released should you hunker down in the safe room or run like hell?
  3. It matters because the 6th Fleet has gone missing; where the hell was the 6th Fleet on September 11, 2012? Isn’t there a Carrier Group in the Mediterranean every day of every year? It’s just 700 miles from Naples to Benghazi, not a chip shot but certainly no more than a 9 iron with today’s weapons.
  4. It matters because ½ the population feels like the government is always lying.

As you can probably see I have my problems with the Benghazi story. I’m going to leave the story behind and focus on Rep Gowdy’s message of why isn’t there more oversight from the press?

Let’s do a test – How would you rate the oversight on all of these stories?

  • Iran-Contra
  • Read my lips, no new taxes
  • I did not have sexual relations with that woman
  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • You can keep your doctor

Clearly we all feel strongly one way or another on the issues of the day, but why is it that lately (at least in the last 20 years) does it feel like we are constantly being lied to?

Only one of the statements above has been completely decided. George Bush’s “Read my lips no new taxes” was a colossal lie to fiscal conservatives yet at least he traded that in good conscience for the Budget Act of 1990.  In hindsight the Budget Act of 1990 was a good deal for the country but it cost Bush 41 his job.

The other 4 statements above have not been resolved and that brings me to Rep Gowdy’s comments of press oversight.

In a nutshell my theory is that ½ of the news media is no longer providing oversight, they are providing cover.

The news media is beholden to the political views of its editors and owners. The act of reporting the news is now the act of telling the news. The Politicians are the actors in the media, each playing a part defined by hopefully (but not actually) their constituent’s views. The reporters tell the story always based on the Politician’s viewpoint which gives that person political cover. They never ask questions on actual events just on the viewpoint of the person being interviewed, who again is the actor in the story.

Which ½ is providing cover and which ½ is providing oversight… well it’s depends on who’s in charge in the oval office and who’s doing the interview. In other words in this day and age ½ of the news media is allowing the government to drag out stories that appear to the other ½ to be simply not true.

What is the population to do when it’s simply not true? We break up and follow those in the news media that closely align with our own views. Unfortunately, that news outlet is basically telling you the story based on how it thinks you want to hear it.

This problem isn’t just NBC, Fox News and the other major news organizations. We get our news in a plethora of ways. Here’s one example, not picking on Yahoo but if you search for Benghazi Attack your first two “news” reports are “blatantly political,” and “right wing conspiracy.” Mind you… I didn’t search “Yahoo News,” I searched “Yahoo” the search engine. Telling a story with words like blatantly political or right wing conspiracy is what I call providing cover.

Yahoo search results on Benghazi


So who’s the blame and how do you fix it? I don’t know? Maybe there are too many reporters thus they are just trying to make a living. Maybe they come out of school thinking blogging is reporting. Maybe to be an actual Journalist you should have to get your PhD and that PhD must be granted from institution that has been accredited as politically neutral (I know good, luck finding that). Maybe if a news outlet is found to be on the wrong side of the news it loses its license for 1 year.

Journalism needs to be a profession, one like engineering that is tough to master. A profession like a heart surgeon where only 1 in a 100,000 can do that job. This namby pamby stuff we have now, this group of “reporters” that can’t ask questions, this has got to go. You’re either a blogger with an opinion (me) or a reporter (Woodward & Bernstein).

The point is there is no one currently out there that all Americans trust and man-enough (sorry ladies couldn’t think of another word) to ask the tough questions regardless of the interviewee. If you can’t trust those that report on the news, those that are supposed to provide oversight to the government, then scandals will continue to occur, they will jam up our dysfunctional government, and we the people will continue with the broken government.

So why does Benghazi matter? It matters because the story proves you can’t trust ½ of the media to report on a story, thus you can’t trust the story. Benghazi matters because 4 people lost their lives and we don’t know why.

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