Carney Derangement Syndrome has struck again, this time felling National Journal‘s Ron Fournier, who took to MSNBC’s Morning Joe to deliver a measured criticism of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Friday morning. Carney is taking heat from reporters over his insistence that a recently-released email about then-Ambassador Susan Rice’s Sunday show prep was not about Benghazi, but about broader unrest in the Muslim world. Fournier’s way of calling the White House’s rationale thin was to equate Carney to “Baghdad Bob,” the Iraqi Minister of Information who kept insisting that the 2003 American invasion was but a scratch.
Fournier told Scarborough and company that although he “has admired Jay and worked with Jay, and wants my White House to succeed,” he thought it was “painful yesterday, watching that briefing and get Baghdad Bob flashbacks.”
Way Too Early host Thomas Roberts took a shot at injecting some reality into the proceedings, pointing out that the widespread protests in the region at the time were a huge story, and a cause for significant worry going into that weekend, but was quickly cut off by Joe Scarborough, because that’s how Morning Joe works.
The controversy over this most recent email, at least in the minds of non-deranged reporters, isn’t so much over whether the new email reveals anything, but whether the White House should have released it along with the others it gave to Congress (and released publicly to refute the fabricated reporting of Jon Karl and Sharyl Attkisson). Carney was repeatedly asked why, if the new email wasn’t about Benghazi, was it then included in a FOIA request for documents related to Benghazi, and he explained that the latest FOIA request was handled by the State Department, not the White House.
If the new email doesn’t reveal anything new (which it doesn’t), then it should matter very little why it was not included with the others, but it’s still a legitimate question. The very worst you could say about it is that the White House may have been aware of the Rhodes email, felt some concern that it might be misused in exactly the way it has been, and constructed Carney’s rationale in order to exclude it. That’s the very worst conclusion you can draw, that the White House had a completely legitimate concern, and dealt with it using a legitimate, if thin, rationale.
That doesn’t make the new email suddenly mean something, and sorry, it doesn’t equal “Baghdad Bob.” Even making that comparison, given the shit-ton of misinformation that the Bush-era White House press enabled around that specific war, is offensive.
If anything, all of the White House emails that have been released on this subject are remarkable in their lack of political consideration, given the fact that republicans didn’t even wait for the shooting to stop before they leapt to politicize it. Given the blistering, cynical, and dishonest political assault they were under, it would have been entirely legitimate for those considerations to have been discussed, and yet they were not. History has borne out that it would have been legitimate, because the politics surrounding this, abetted by reporters who have humored it, have legitimately hindered efforts to actually deal with what happened in Benghazi.