Fox News' #Benghazi Boner In One Easy Chart

Fox News has been banging the drum for the massive conservative cult that has sprung up around #Benghazi, but when you stack it up next to less enduring conservative fetishes, though, the effect is downright comical. Jed Lewison at Daily Kos put together a handy chart tracking that shows that as facts caught up to conservative fantasy about Obamacare and Cliven Bundy, Fox News' coverage petered out accordingly. #Benghazi to the rescue.
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Fox News has been banging the drum for the massive conservative cult that has sprung up around #Benghazi, but when you stack it up next to less enduring conservative fetishes, though, the effect is downright comical. Jed Lewison at Daily Kos put together a handy chart tracking that shows that as facts caught up to conservative fantasy about Obamacare and Cliven Bundy, Fox News' coverage petered out accordingly. #Benghazi to the rescue.
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You'd have to be hiding under a cable news rock not to know that Fox News has been banging the drum for the massive conservative cult that has sprung up around #Benghazi, that magical wonderland where any good little boy with a golden fake email can gorge on chocolatety outrage.

When you stack it up next to less enduring conservative fetishes, though, the effect is downright comical. Jed Lewison at Daily Kos put together a handy chart tracking the blood flow to certain recent stories, and it shows that as facts caught up to conservative fantasy about Obamacare and Cliven Bundy, Fox News' coverage petered out accordingly. #Benghazi to the rescue.

After spending several days whacking weeds in the newest #Benghazi cabbage patch, I went on The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann last night to talk about this round of outrage, and Hartmann laid this chart on me. As I told him on the show, it reads like a nerd version of a Viagra commercial, Cialas via Ezra Klein, if you will. As news about Obamacare got better and better, Fox's Obamacare coverage shrank accordingly, and when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was outed as a blatant racist, their Bundy coverage took an ice-water bath. Most comically, though, their Benghazi coverage shot up like Dirk Diggler on a pizza delivery when Judicial Watch obtained their latest "smoking gun" email.

To be fair, MSNBC has had a raging diamond-cutter over Bridgegate for so long, their doctor had to tell them to stop calling every four hours, and CNN has been positively tantric about Flight 370, but there's a key difference. Bridgegate is an actual scandal, in which an actual traffic jam was actually used as political retribution. Flight 370 was a real plane that really disappeared. You can debate the utility of so much coverage, but these are real things.

Benghazi is also a real place, where a real attack occurred, but as Jay Carney has been pointing out all week, this fascination with #Benghazi, a place where the most important thing is a conspiracy that didn't exist, has hindered efforts to effectively deal with what actually happened in real Benghazi. As I also told Hartmann, though, Fox's obsession with #Benghazi, while certainly not helpful, is nowhere near as damaging as the fuel that has been given to it by the mainstream media. Despite the collapse of story after story, #Benghazi cultists in the mainstream media continue to operate, and their colleagues, to varying degrees, continue to humor them.

On planet Earth, most reporters recognize that even if they think the White House should probably have turned over this latest email along with the others, the email itself changes nothing about the #Benghazi so-called conspiracy. The controversial line in question is explicitly, clearly about exactly what Carney says it's about: the protests throughout the Muslim world related to the video from Innocence of Muslims. The question of whether the White House could or should have released it last year is largely academic, yet it seduces other reporters into contributing to the noise, and that noise has an effect that reaches beyond Fox's extremely old, white audience.

On Monday night's The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart did an extended bit on the absurd Fox News double-standard on #Benghazi, versus Iraq and 9/11. Honestly, double-standards are not my favorite premises, because I think things should be evaluated on their own merits, but it is illustrative.

The problem is, in order to set up that bit, Stewart succumbed to the mainstream media "reasonable guy" seduction that is then supposed to boost the credibility of the critique that follows. "The white house said they had very little to do with changing the talking points," Stewart said, adding "Now it looks like this Ben Rhodes did add to the talking points emphasizing the events around Benghazi were not terrorists but related to a provocative anti-Muslim video."

Except he added nothing to the talking points (the prep email actually draws from the talking points, which the CIA had already produced), and the line Stewart quotes is exactly what the talking points said about protests in the region, and in fact, tracks with all of the reporting since then.

Stewart also said it sounds like "the White House had politics and elections on their mind when they sent Susan Rice to the Sunday shows. It's deplorable."

Now, Jon Karl and Sharyl Attkisson, while more influential than Fox News, don't have the kind of cultural reach that Jon Stewart does, and the noise around #Benghazi has finally worn him down. It's fun to mock Fox News, but the real damage is done by news organizations and media figures that normal people actually pay attention to.