Military Expert Says He Warned a Fox Producer That He Believed the Network Was Hyping the Benghazi Attacks Before He Said It Live on the Air

A Fox News segment producer is likely out of a job today. This producer greenlighted military affairs expert Tom Ricks appearance on Fox’s air yesterday despite having been warned by Ricks that he was going to disparage Fox’s relentless politicizing of the attacks last September on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador and three presumed CIA operatives — officially described as “security contractors” — were killed.

According to right-leaning Politico.com:

[Ricks said] “my feeling was that they asked my opinion and I gave it.” The author’s Monday interview with Fox News kicked off with him saying, “I think that Benghazi generally was hyped, by this network especially,” and ended after he told Happening Now’s Jon Scott that “the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party.”

“I had told the producer before I went on that I thought the Benghazi story had been hyped. So it should have been no surprise when I said it and the anchor pushed back that I defended my view,” Ricks told POLITICO in an e-mail. “I also have been thinking a lot about George Marshall, the Army chief of staff during World War II, and one of the heroes of my new book. He got his job by speaking truth to power, and I have been thinking that we all could benefit by following his example as much as we can.”

After he went off the air, Ricks said he “saw some surprised faces in the hallway.”

“One staff person said she thought I had been rude. My feeling was that they asked my opinion and I gave it,” Ricks wrote.

Fox News has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Transcript:

FOX ANCHOR: Right now, pressure mounting on the Obama administration over its response to the deadly attack on our consulate in Benghazi. As Catherine Herridge reported just moments ago. Several top GOP lawmakers are backing off their criticisms of U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, instead focusing on the White House. Two senators even expressing concerns about a possible White House cover up.

Let’s talk about it with Tom Ricks. He is author of “The Generals.” He has spent decades covering our military. He joins us now. Ah, Sen. John McCain has said in the past that he would block any attempt to nominate Susan Rice to become U.N. — I’m sorry — secretary of state. She’s currently the U.N. ambassador. He seems to be backing away from that. What do you make of it?

RICKS: I think that Benghazi generally was hyped, by this network especially. And now that the campaign is over, I think he’s backing off a little bit. They’re not going to stop Susan Rice from being secretary of state.

FOX ANCHOR: When you have four people dead, including the first U.N. ambassador — U.S. ambassador — in more than 30 years, how do you call that hype?

RICKS: How many security contractors died in Iraq do you know?

FOX ANCHOR: I don’t.

RICKS: No, nobody does, because nobody cared. We know that several hundred died but there was never an official count done of security contractors in Iraq. So when I see this focus on what was essentially a small firefight, I think — number one, I’ve covered firefights a lot of firefights; it’s impossible to figure out what happened in them sometimes.

And second, I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party.

FOX ANCHOR: Alright, Tom Ricks. Thanks very much for joining us today.

RICKS: You’re welcome.

At a bona fide news channel, a spokesperson would have responded to criticism of the network by first asserting that the critic had a right to his opinion before offering a defense of the network’s journalistic practices.

At first Fox refused requests for a comment, but when a statement was issued eventually, rather than defending itself, Fox attacked the critic. “When Mr. Ricks ignored the anchor’s question,” a Fox executive said to the Associated Press, “it became clear that his goal was to bring attention to himself and his book.”

Tom Ricks is the author of best-selling books on military affairs, including “The Generals” and “Fiasco.” His work has won two Pulitizers, one in 2000 for National Reporting at the Wall Street Journal for articles on how the U.S. Military might change to meet 21st-century demands and another in 2002 for National Reporting at the Washington Post for reporting about the beginnings of the U.S. counteroffensive against terrorism.

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2 thoughts on “Military Expert Says He Warned a Fox Producer That He Believed the Network Was Hyping the Benghazi Attacks Before He Said It Live on the Air”

  1. For people that call this investigation a witch hunt, don’t forget that 1) 4 american lives were lost. 2) there were obvious problems with security and 3) the public was lied to. Do you not believe that it is the responsibility of our government officials to find some answers?

  2. Two weeks before 9/11, Bush was interrupted on vacation in Texas by a briefer who handed him an intelligence report with the headline, “Bin Laden determined to strike in US.” Bush handed it back to the briefer and told him, “Now you’ve covered your ass,” after which he resumed his vacation.

    That was a “decision point.” George W. Bush had a choice of taking action on the report or doing nothing. He chose to do nothing. As a result, 3,000 people died.

    Now that is a scandal.

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