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Media Torn Over Romney, Obama Benghazi Remarks

Greg Asciutto |
October 16, 2012 | 11:08 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama (Screenshot).
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama (Screenshot).
Following the second presidential debate of the 2012 election, journalists and bloggers have taken to their keyboards to give their opinions on the controversy surrounding the candidates' remarks concerning the Sept. 11 attacks upon the Benghazi embassy.

After Kerry Ladka, an undecided voter and attendee of the town hall style debate, posed a question about the refusal of extra security for the U.S. Embassy in the days preceding the attack, President Barack Obama attacked Mitt Romney for using the death of four Americans as an opportunity to promote his campaign agenda.

"While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points, and that’s not how a commander in chief operates," the president said. "You don’t turn national security into a political issue."

Romney subsequently blasted the Obama administration for its reluctance to call the attack "terrorist" in nature.

"It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people," he said. "Whether there was some misleading, or instead whether we just didn’t know what happened, you have to ask yourself why didn’t we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?"

When moderator Candy Crowley asked if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was indeed fully responsible for the deadly attacks, Obama said that he was the one ultimately responsible for the deaths.

"The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime."

Obama's comment that he had previously called the Benghazi situation "an act of terror" drew a fiery response from Romney, who insisted that the president had never before made that reference.

"I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror," Romney said.

Obama, who told Crowley to "get the transcript," was validated by the moderator as she confirmed his Sept. 12 statements. Romney tried to quickly re-group but the president's momentum carried the conversation to the next discussion point.

"The Republican presidential candidate had been made to look ill-informed and foolish as his attempt to discredit Obama backfired and the president walked away from a potentially damaging encounter largely unscathed," wrote Chris McGreal of The Guardian.

Jonathan Allen of Politico agreed that the Benghazi discussion benefited the Obama camp.

"It was Crowley's response to a technicality — whether Obama had recognized the attack as an act of terror rather than the result of a spontaneous protest — that helped Obama regain his footing on an issue that has hamstrung his administration for weeks," he wrote.

Other writers were not as quick to chalk the victory up to Obama, arguing that Crowley took the president's Sept. 12 statements out of context.

The official transcript of the president's address reads: "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for."

Some are arguing that this "terror" is not a reference to Benghazi, but rather to the general history of attacks upon the United States.

"Crowley's intervention on Obama's behalf was a blatant display of mainstream media bias," wrote Henry D'Andrea of The Washington Times. "She incorrectly declared that Obama called Benghazi 'an act of terror.' As a member of the media and as the debate moderator, should not have protected the president nor thrown him a lifeline. She should not have inserted her own interpretation of Obama's September 12 remarks to suit his immediate need."

D'Andrea also referred to Crowley as "another collaborator in the Obama-Libya coverup."

In late September, Commentary Magazine posted a piece titled, "No, Obama Didn't Call Benghazi 'Act of Terror' in Speech."

"If Obama wanted to call the Benghazi assault a terrorist attack in that speech, he had plenty of opportunities to do so," wrote Alana Goodman. "Instead, he described it as a 'terrible act,' a 'brutal' act, 'senseless violence' and called the attackers 'killers,' not terrorists."

Despite the controversy over the president's Benghazi remarks, CNN has reported that Obama won the debate with 46 percent of the public vote.


Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage on the presidential debate here.

Reach Staff Reporter Greg Asciutto here.



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