24 September 2012

State Department Surliness Over Bungled Benghazi Blame

[L] P.R. spokesman Philippe Reines and [R] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Buzzfeed correspondent Michael Hastings contacted Philippe Reines to follow up on the over-the-top attack on that he made at CNN regarding the release of details of assassinated U.S. Ambassador Libya Chris Stevens. Reines, the Press Secretary (and long time personal aide) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, repeated his outrage against CNN's reportage, claiming that they have responsibilities to act as human beings and respect the grieving Ambassador's family.

 Hastings had the temerity in e-mail exchanges to challenge the Foggy Bottom filibuster about good journalistic practices and chided the State Department and the Obama Administration for being complicit in misinfomation about the bungled Benghazi mission, namely steadfastly claiming that the incident was spontaneously sparked by Islamists offended by an internet movie about the prophet Muhammad.

 State Department employee Reines deflected critical questions by declaring that reporter Hastings had already made up his mind. Hastings protested that Reines was just giving "B.S." answers. The tone of civility declined from there. Philippe Reines then declared:

I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you're an unmitigated asshole. 

 Reines, the ever officious civil servant closed with "And by good day, I mean Fuck Off." Reines could not handle being challenged or responding in kind, so further inquiries from reporter Hastings were tagged for junk mail.

While it is kind of fun to read a real time pissing match between government officials and the fourth estate (which you can read in it's entirety here), this contentious exchange highlights a few key facts.

 Firstly, Philippe Reines has been called Hillary Clinton's "Michael Clayton-esque image man and fixer" by Vogue Magazine. Really, is this the way to conduct yourself and represent your boss, the State Department and the American people?

 Secondly, it shows the vacuity in most the elite liberal national media (a.k.a. the Lamestream Media) in doing what used to be considering their jobs in journalism. The Lamestream Media mostly has minimized the Benghazi Blunder on 9/11/2012. But when CNN dared to expose the Libya lies and Foggy Bottom trashes the reporting for stepping out of line.

 A new media reporter had the audacity to hope that this transparent Obama Administration might answer some uncomfortable questions. When the B.S. isn't bought, the civil servant becomes uncivil and shuts the journalist out. And Buzzfeed should not be dismissed as right wing noise, as it was co-founded by Jonah Peretti (who also co-founded the Huffington Post) and is edited by former Politico editor Ben Smith.

Thirdly, there is the question about transparency in governance.  Obama Administration won an award for transparency award from the Open Government Community, but it chose to accept the award behind closed doors. Does this auger well for the future in a prospective second Obama Administration? The Obama Administration will trash dissenting Lamestream Media, dismisses citizen journalist while deflecting hard questions from Univision.

Lastly, it brings to the forefront a question which will be decided at the ballot box--does the American people want a Commander-in-Chief who can deal with crisis or a Celebrity-in-Chief who will sit down with "The View", and the Pimp with a Limp but feigns to know nothing when he chats with David Letterman.

Students of history should remember that the forty years ago Watergate scandal may have been precipitated by an ill-conceived opposition research campaign stunt and a botched burglary. But the situation was exacerbated by surliness to the press and stonewalling by the Nixon Administration officials to cover up for their chief. It is the cover-up that can be worse than the crime.

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