Longtime Obama aide and former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor gave conservatives lots to chew on during his lengthy interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier Thursday night, including his use of the term “dude” and his uncertain recollection of his role in the development of the Benghazi talking points. Sandwiched right in the middle of that interview, though, was a priceless moment of zen in which Vietor calls out Fox News’ consistently inaccurate Benghazi reporting, and Baier says “okay,” then hurriedly jumps to redirect Vietor.
Tommy was appearing on Special Report with Bret Baier in order to try and un-Fox some of the bullshit that’s been cropping up around this latest bout of Benghazi Fever, an admirable goal, but he clearly wasn’t prepared for many of Baier’s questions. His hesitancy on a variety of subjects, including the President’s whereabouts as the tragedy unfolded, have put air in the shrill Fox Nation bagpipes. Also of interest to wingnuts, and destined for a Drudge link if it hasn’t already gotten one, is this exchange in which Vietor uses the word “dude”:
I’ll get to the substance of that exchange in a second, but if Tommy V. is listening, here’s something he should consider before going on Fox News again. It’s fair, if frivolous, to be amused or outraged at Vietor’s informality in his response to a question about the intricate details of formulating talking points, but Bret baier, supposed hard news reporter, did Vietor dirty on the Daily Bret blog by headlining the exchange as though Tommy had made light of the attacks. “Tommy Vietor tells Bret ‘Dude, it (Benghazi) was like two years ago…’” ran the headline. Stay classy, Bret.
Now, on to the substance. I’m not trying to second-guess Tommy V. here, because he was up against a very sharp questioner with an agenda, but if he had been a little more prepared, this whole thing could have gone differently. Baier begins the exchange by saying “According to the e-mails and the time line, the CIA circulates new talking points after they’ve removed the mention of al Qaeda, and then at 6:21 the White House, you, add a line about the administration warning about September 10th of social media reports calling for demonstrations. True?”
“I believe so,” Vietor responds.
Actually, no. According to the emails (the real ones, not Jon Karl’s fake ones), the reference to social media reports was added by the CIA, at 4:42 pm. See page 15. Vietor did make a later revision, which was the subject of the rest of the exchange.
“Did you also change ‘attacks’ to ‘demonstrations’ in the talking points?” Baier asked.
“Maybe,” Vietor said. “I don’t really remember.”
“You don’t remember?” Baier asked.
“Dude, this was two years ago. We’re still talking about the most mundane thing,” came Vietor’s response.
Dude, you didn’t. The change that Baier is referring to, changing “currently available information suggests that the attacks in Benghazi” to “currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi,” was made by the CIA at 4:42. At 6:21 (see page 26), Vietor did make a change, adding the word “Cairo” to “On 10 September we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of the Embassy (Cairo) and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.”
It wasn’t a complete loss, though. Vietor, at one point, started to call out Fox News’ relentlessly false reporting. “The fact that your network at one point reported that he watched video feed of the attack as it was ongoing is part of what I think is a pattern of inaccurate…”
“Okay,” Baier cut him off, “let me get to the bottom of it, then. Where was the President?”
“In the White House,” Vietor answered, before continuing to call out Fox’s Benghazi narrative. “Let me finish my statement. The notion that we could divine motives from a drone feed, I think, is wrong, and also I think this idea that the military had the capability to rescue those individuals, but chose not to, I think is extremely unfair to the military.”
Unfortunately, that’s where the awesomeness ended, as Baier quickly led Vietor out of the Fox News woods, and back into the weeds.