Jon Karl got played by a confidential source and now ABC News has a big Benghazi problem

May.
18
“His colleagues at other news organizations know it. His friends at the network, were they real friends, would try to talk him out of this disastrous state of denial.”

[With four updates below: May 19, 20, 22.]

I am going to be brief here because for anyone closely following the story of the Benghazi talking points these facts are well known. And if you’re not following the story closely, you probably don’t care. If you do care, but aren’t following it, just click the links below and you can get caught up.

1. On May 10th ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported a source’s description of a White House advisor’s email about the Benghazi talking points:

“We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.”

2. That turned out to be misleading and inaccurate, as revealed initially by CNN’s Jake Tapper and later confirmed by the release of all the emails in question. Karl’s source, said Tapper, “seemingly invented the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed.” Tapper had obtained the text of the email in question. It simply didn’t say what Karl said it said on one key point. Karl, it appeared, was relying on a source’s quotation.

3. Tapper is a former colleague of Karl’s at ABC News, and a former guest host of ABC’s This Week, a duty Karl also takes on from time to time. The two men are in the same business. Both have covered the White House for ABC. If one says the other’s source “invented” evidence that was passed along to ABC’s audience, that is a serious matter.

4. Karl responded to Tapper’s report by obfuscating without backing off, and claiming that the release of the full email chain would clear this up. So how about it, White House? ABC News also doubled down. It’s spokesperson told Erik Wemple of the Washington Post that Tapper’s report was consistent with Karl’s.

5. The White House said Karl’s source had “fabricated” the email in question. Here, the Obama Administration was warning ABC News that Jon Karl got played. Again, a serious matter. Also: news.

6. Karl’s colleagues weren’t buying his defense, as can be seen from this post by NPR’s Scott Neuman and Mark Memmott. They were bothered, as well, by the way Karl created confusion about whether he had obtained the email in question or just heard its contents described by a source. This too counts as a serious matter.

7. Later, when the full email chain was released, the news was bad for Karl. The originals show that Karl’s source was wrong about the White House protecting the State Department’s concerns over other agencies. Jon Karl had called for this evidence to be released. It was released. The results only cast more doubt on his defense of the original story, and strongly suggested he had been played.

8. Yesterday, Taking Points Memo reported that members of Congress and their staffs were briefed on the emails and their contents. That’s how Karl’s source knew about them.

The ABC report was based on notes taken by a still-unnamed source, presumably a Republican, in attendance at one of two briefings the administration held for members and senior staffers of the Senate and House intelligence committees and top leadership offices in February and March of this year. The ABC report contained a great deal of the information the White House would ultimately reveal itself this week when it released all of the inter- and intra-agency email communication that ultimately resulted in the talking points Susan Rice used in a now-infamous series of appearances on network news shows on the Sunday after the attack.

But it got one big part about the White House’s role wrong…

Again: serious business.

9. I had been following all this and last night I said on Twitter: “Jon Karl got played. But he refuses to admit it. Every ABC anchor who doesn’t ask him about it is complicit, too.” I was anticipating Karl’s appearance on ABC’s signature political program, This Week with George Stephanopoulos. jonathan_karl2-620x4121 He had appeared on May 12th, two days after his original report, to talk about Benghazi with guest host Martha Raddatz. There had been big news in the intervening week: the release of the original emails. I figured that ABC News would have him on again, if they believed so strongly in his original report. He is, after all, ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent; the story that dominated Washington all week was the re-emergence of a scandal narrative. A typical headline: Obama Pivots to Jobs Tour at End of Scandal Filled Week. (That’s from The Note, the politics blog at ABCNews.com, to which Karl is a major contributor.) Well, here’s the line-up for This Week with George Stephanopoulos. No Jon Karl. Instead, ABC News Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

10. When a confidential source burns a reporter, a reporter is within his rights to burn–that is, “out”–that source. But it almost never happens because reporters are concerned that potential sources will take it as a sign that the reporter cannot be trusted to keep their names secret. That’s bad enough. But this is worse. Karl had a chance to limit the damage to ABC News from his faulty reporting when he first responded to Jake Tapper’s report. He blew that. Inexplicably, an ABC News spokesperson then doubled down on Karl’s original reporting: strike two. They had a chance to recover by asking Karl to explain how he got misled on This Week. They blew that when they chickened out and asked Jeff Zeleny to appear instead.

11. None of the major networks–ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN–has an ombudsman. This is mystifying to me. They don’t seem to realize that since the rise of the Internet, their reporting is called into question far more easily and far more effectively. This case was especially likely to blow-up in ABC’s face once Jake Tapper’s report appeared online. When one reporter pisses on another reporter’s scoop, the first reporter enters a danger zone. The overwhelming temptation is to defend the story and treat the critique of it by another reporter as professional jealousy. A wise editor would intervene. (Attention: Rick Klein.) That did not happen. When the newsroom hierarchy fails, as it did here, the ombudsman can step in and force an accounting. But there is no ombudsman at ABC.

Jon Karl has dragged the entire news division at ABC (and now George Stephanopoulos) into his self-dug pit. He got played. His colleagues at other news organizations know it. His friends at the network, were they real friends, would try to talk him out of this disastrous state of denial.

* * *

Update, May 19. Today, Jonathan Karl, feeling the heat from peers, decided to make a statement to Howard Kurtz of CNN, who read it on the air. The statement says:

Clearly, I regret the email was quoted incorrectly and I regret that it’s become a distraction from the story, which still entirely stands. I should have been clearer about the attribution. We updated our story immediately.

In the statement he did not apologize. On Twitter he did– for failing to make clear that his reporting was based on a summary provided by a source. My favorite part of his statement is: “Clearly, I regret…” That’s exactly what he and ABC News, through its spokesperson, were refusing to be clear about!

Media Matters has many more quotes from former journalists calling Karl’s actions into question. Also see Josh Marshall’s analysis at Talking Points Memo.

Andrew Tyndall of the Tyndall Report, which tracks television news, sends this:

On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, Major Garrett spelled out how Jonathan Karl’s Republican source had misrepresented the content of the e-mails in his Exclusive on the previous Friday. But Garrett did not mention Karl by name as the one who disseminated the falsity.

On Wednesday, when Karl covered the publication of the actual e-mails by the White House on ABC World News, he resorted to a post hoc, propter hoc sleight of hand to suggest that they vindicated his previous reporting. Garrett, also on Wednesday, reported the opposite: that the relationship between the State Department’s comments and the CIA’s wording changes were coincidental, not causative.

Per Garrett, the CIA redacted its talking points in response to the FBI’s need not to compromise its investigation, not in response to the State Department’s need to avoid Congressional criticism.

Update II, May 19: After thinking about it some more, here’s the problem for ABC:

If a reporter for your network tells the public he has “exclusively” obtained evidence he has not in fact obtained, causing other reporters for the network to repeat that untruth, and part of his report turns out to be wrong, in a way that a.) is politically consequential and b.) would have been avoided if the evidence was actually in the reporter’s possession… what is the proper penalty?

ABC’s current position: The reporter has to say that he regrets the misreport, and apologize for not being clearer, while benefitting from the confusion he created across multiple reports by sometimes being accurate (that he had summaries of emails read to him) and sometimes misleading us with the claim that he had “obtained” the originals. (Link.)

Can that stand? We will see this week, I guess.

Update III, May 20: Looks like we have our answer. There is now an editor’s note attached to the original “exclusive” by Karl. It reads:

Editor’s Note: There were differences between ABC News’ original reporting on an email by Ben Rhodes, below, and the actual wording of that email which have now been corrected. ABC News should have been more precise in its sourcing of those quotes, attributing them to handwritten copies of the emails taken by a Congressional source. We regret that error. The remainder of the report stands as accurate.

I would have retracted the report, both the online and and on air versions. Not only because of the sourcing problems. The entire story seeks to make a scandal out of the fact that that the talking points were edited, or as Karl says on air “dramatically edited!” But how else do you get inter-agency agreement on what to say? Karl says on the air that many of the changes were “directed” by the State Department, but State didn’t have the power to direct anything. With the editor’s note and Karl’s updates attempting to rescue his “exclusive,” the thing is now a mess. All to avoid confessing error and protect a misbegotten scoop.

Academic opinion as surveyed by Salon is strongly against Karl and ABC for flunking the basics of transparency.

Here’s NPR’s report, quoting this one.

The Washington Post fact checker takes on this episode, in particular the White House’s claim that Karl’s Republican sources must have fabricated and “doctored” the emails they talked about with him. He is not impressed with this claim, awarding it Three Pinocchios (significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.) “We see little evidence that much was at play here besides imprecise wordsmithing or editing errors by journalists.”

Update IV, May 22: It is in the nature of these disputes that they get more granular as they go on. Andrew Tyndall, who monitors TV News at the Tyndall Report, has been thinking it through. He sends me an after-action report that I am publishing here. Tyndall effectively isolates the layer of Jon Karl’s report that was, yes, a genuine scoop but also an important part of the story, if you really want to know what happened with the Benghazi talking points: The precise steps through which interagency drafting weakened the text into something opaque and, eventually, deceptive and wrong. That additional detail advances the story, as the Weekly Standard’s earlier reports did. No doubt this is why Karl and ABC are insisting their story “stands.”

But as Tyndall says, Karl’s report also tried to explain these changes–it went into the who and the why–by vaguely suggesting that the White House rep and the State Department rep directed them to be made, or somehow controlled the process. He wants to establish a kind of authorship or custody by State and the White House because he is aiming at another prize, beyond his “precise steps” scoop: catching Jay Carney in a lie or bald misstatement of fact.

The statement he was aiming at was the closer for his Good Morning America report on May 10. “They [the White House] initially said only one word had been changed.” He’s trying to show us that together, State and the White House changed a lot of words. Karl wanted to go beyond his exclusive. He wanted a scoop and a nailed lie too. But he mis-nailed it by getting a bum quote, and by failing to establish the undue authorship claim.

With that in mind, read Andrew Tyndall’s take:

The essence of Jonathan Karl’s scoop in the Benghazi Consulate story on ABC on May 10th, was his exclusive revelation that the talking points prepared for members of the Intelligence Committee by the CIA (the ones that also guided Ambassador Susan Rice on those Sunday morning shows) had gone through a series of 12 drafts, each one more vague and less informative, with the end result that their imprecision turned out to be deceptive. Specifically, the decisions not to redact the point about the anti-blasphemy protests, but to redact the point about the al-Qaeda-connected Ansar al-Sharia militia, amounted to misleading the public.

It is that process of deception-by-redaction that Karl has defended as the central point of his exclusive, and has led him to stand by it. Karl never actually uses the term “deceit” but his implication is clear.

There are two subsidiary elements to the story, which Karl either stated or implied, that do not contradict his deception-by-redaction thesis, yet do cast it in a different light. First, who made the changes? Second, what was the motive for the changes?

1. Who made the changes? Karl’s exclusive on May 10th asserted that either the White House or the State Department made at least some of the changes. The story leads with Jay Carney’s claim that those two institutions only changed one word, a claim that Karl contradicts. He later, on May 15th, reported that the final changes were made by the CIA. He remains silent about which of the intermediary changes were made by the White House or by State instead, yet he stands by his premise that some of them were.

2. What was the motive for the changes? In his exclusive report, Karl focuses on the State Department, with its concerns not to open itself to criticism from members of Congress, as the motivator for the redactions. Subsequently a memo has surfaced, written by Ben Rhodes at the White House, that casts doubt on the State Department’s influence over the CIA. First, Rhodes never singles out State’s concerns; second, he does single out the FBI’s concerns that its investigation should not be compromised, as is standard procedure.

The fact that Karl’s reporting relied on an incorrect paraphrase of Rhodes’ memo, which inaccurately did spell out State’s particular concerns, makes Karl’s decision to point to State as the motivator less convincing. In Karl’s defense, he did not report on World News, either on the 10th or the 15th, that the changes were made to the talking points because of State’s input; only that they were made after State’s input. This distinction between “after” and “because of” is never spelled out for viewers.

On the other hand, as said, he did report that some of the intermediary changes were in fact made by either State or the White House, and earlier on the 10th, on Good Morning America, he quoted from an e-mail (again, one he had not seen but had been read to him) that the CIA changed some words after being “directed” to do so by State (later that day on World News, Karl made no stronger claim than “input” from State).

So, Karl’s scoop about the fact of the changes in the talking points was a genuine one. His reporting on who made the changes and why they were made is vague or shifting or absent.

73 Comments

  1. Ivy B says:

    After I read this, I wondered if Karl insisted that he was right because of personal beliefs.

    http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/a-right-wing-mole-at-abc-news/

    • That’s just the thing. Karl is a tool of the right-wing. So is Sharyl Attkisson. Why would Karl out Issa’s or Boehner’s(or Cantor’s) office as the source. They’re all in it together.

      • abigail beecher says:

        So true. Only leftwing tools are allowed in
        “journalism”. We can’t have “journalists” wandering off the leftwing reservation!

        Sheesh!

        • Robert Flynn says:

          Declassified government documents at the National Security Archive (nsarchive.org) reveal the Bush administration’s confidence that they could “manage perception” through the rightwing media, and they did. Scott McClellan, Bush’s friend and White House spokesman, ridiculed the idea that it was a “liberal” media that were “too complicit” enablers of Bush’s war on Iraq.

        • pauleky says:

          While what you say is untrue (today’s media is corporately owned and controlled, so just how liberal do you think they’re allowed to be?), reality does have a liberal bias. :-)

      • SocraticGadfly says:

        Don’t forget Diane Sawyer, back to her Richard Nixon days. Any coincidence that one of Karl’s appearances last week was with her on 20/20?

  2. Great post, especially the note of Tapper as ex-ABC outing a former colleague. Also, I assume this is a typo:

    “Karl, it appeared, was replying on a source’s quotation” – should be “relying”?

  3. ZackAttack says:

    Sure seems like fabricating a quote and attributing it to the CIA has to be a nontrivial crime.

  4. Pegatha says:

    I bet the source was a congressman. IF that’s the case, we’ll never know.

  5. [...] developments showed that Intrepid Jonathan Karl had not actually seen any emails and that the plot didn’t exist. Nevertheless, IJ Karl and broadcast news leader ABC stand by [...]

  6. Fallen Castle says:

    I beg to differ with this assessment. Jonathan Karl did not get played. He lied.

    Karl repeatedly said he had acquired White House emails, but he didn’t. He lied.

    Why would you think he got played?

    Do you think he both got payed AND lied? Not likely.

    • abigail beecher says:

      Any “journalist” who doesn’t parrot Obama administration talking points is a liar.

      Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

      • Comrade Carter says:

        Yes, and “journalist”. Is that what ABC calls Karl?

      • MDavis says:

        Any “journalist” who lies is a liar, as evidenced by said “journalist” insisting that what they said was true even though it wasn’t. (i.e.: I have the email! – Well, not really, but I told the truth! Sheesh, I’ve heard better substantiation from fibbing three-year olds.)

  7. Heather Keaton says:

    Your article assumes ALL White House emails were released. I do not believe the White House would release emails confirming Jonathon’s report. Come on, think about it

    • Aneece says:

      By that standard, the White House is axiomatically guilty, simply by being accused, since all exonerating evidence can be dismissed this way.

  8. I am not sure which has lost the most trust, government or the media. I guess that it is the government because there has always been a strain of media bias that we choose ignore. Why else do we all understand the term “yellow journalism”?

    • abigail beecher says:

      This is the one bright spot I see in the Obama administration—when he goes down, his press groupies will go with him.

      Win-Win!

      • Aneece says:

        So you don’t care if Obama is brought down by lies, as long as you get your preferred outcome? Is your cause that righteous?

        • caphillprof says:

          The trouble with personal political commentary at this point is that we are living with two-time losers. This isn’t rational discourse but a Republican tantrum.

  9. Good work says:

    Why would you expect TV news to have ombudsmans, as if they care about accuracy/integrity/journalism? I work there, and I’m telling you, they really, really don’t.

  10. [...] Journalism Professor Jay Rosen has a MUST READ in FULL piece on his great media blog Press Think. It’s titled: ” Jon Karl got played by a [...]

  11. [...] In the same vein, Jay Rosen has written in some detail on how Jon Karl got played by his confidential source, and now …: [...]

  12. Wandering Mind says:

    And journos wring their hands and wonder why they are held in such low regard.

    It is understood everyone in government lies to support their particular agenda. For that few decades we have come to understand there is very little, if anything, that distinguishes journalists from politicians.

    Politicians and media share the same wardrobe- only the journos don’t know it.

  13. Bill Andersoot says:

    Perhaps he got played. Or perhaps Jon Karl was one of the players.

    • abigail beecher says:

      The press gets played every day by Obama. When have they ever challenged anything he has ever said? If Obama says it, it must be true they cry. But they like to get played because that way they get access to more lies and talking points. Also there is a lot of inbreeding between press and politics which is not healthy to a free society.

      It has been a long, long time since journalists have been champions of the people rather than the powerful.

      That fact that Karl is getting slapped down by his own people indicates the press will allow no original thought, facts or diversity from their narratives.

      The public suffers because they have no honest brokers of information while the powerful are protected no matter what they do.

      Smart people have already given the establishment press the heave-ho; only the low IQ/information people actually believe what the press tells them.

      The press will get what is deserves—good and hard.

      • Aneece says:

        If you have to comfort yourself with the fantasy that all “smart” people share your ideological priors, perhaps you’re no as confident in your beliefs as you claim.

      • lb 22 says:

        “Smart people have already given the establishment press the heave-ho; only the low IQ/information people actually believe what the press tells them.”

        You seem to be insisting that we should disbelieve Jake Tapper, (a member of the establishment press) and believe Jonathon Karl, (a member of the establishment press). How did you come to this decision? Apparently because Jake Tapper has evidence to support his report we should believe Karl, since you can’t believe the establishment press and therefore the evidence must be faked.

        I feel a little dizzy, just thinking about it. How come you don’t go around with a permanent nosebleed from pretzel logic.

  14. abigail beecher says:

    Notice how Jay frames the narrative: it isn’t the sainted Obama with a Bengazi problem—it is ABC.

    Pathetic. Yeah I’m sure Karl killed those four people in Benganzi, but whatever—we must protect the president at all costs so narrative uber alles!

    Facts be damned, narrative rules!

    No wonder 60% don’t trust the press to tell the truth.

  15. [...] Journalism Professor Jay Rosen has a MUST READ in FULL piece on his good media blog Press Think. It’s titled: ” Jon Karl got played by a devoted source and [...]

  16. Sredni Vashtar says:

    Hey, Ms./Mr. Beecher! Crack open a window. You seem to getting the vapors. I wonder if you can resist responding to this post, as you have failed to do with so many of the others. Probably you’ll resist out of spite, which seems to be your primary motivation.

  17. PeterG says:

    Jonathan Karl channeling Judith Miller?

  18. James says:

    A bit off topic, maybe, but is the disgraced Howard Kurtz and his CNN gig still the accepted way for journos to absolve themselves of their sins? Going on Reliable Sources and being cleansed and forgiven by Howie traditionally puts the “journo” back in good stead around the Beltway. It appears that even Howie’s sins were forgiven and forgotten by going on Reliable Sources.

    So now, Jon Karl is good to go. Howie has forgiven him.

  19. Sredni Vashtar says:

    I predict Karl will resign or be fired. Conservatives will wail that he’s being persecuted for his beliefs and he’ll land a perch at Fox.

  20. JR in WV says:

    Abigale seems to believe that President Obama personally flew to Libya to execute his Ambassador. Could anything be more ridiculous?

    The folks who hate President Obama have no power of critical thought, and thus are unable to tell truth from fiction.

  21. [...] immediately,” he said in the statement to Howard Kurtz, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources. PressThink / Jay Rosen If a reporter for your network tells the public he has “exclusively” obtained evidence [...]

  22. Jan Rifkinson says:

    You ask what Karl’s penalty should be. My answer is that some reporters have been suspended for less consequential mistakes.

  23. [...] Something is rotten at ABC news, Jay Rosen sums it up nicely here, Jon Karl got played by a confidential source and now ABC News has a big Benghazi problem. [...]

  24. Four Americans died. We know how they died. It really sucks.

    Are we really dithering over what someone thought the reason was immediately afterward versus what they later found out the real reason was.

    Seriously? I have no patience for this made up scandal.

    • Abadman says:

      Does it matter that they refused to increase security for the Ambassador as he requested?

      Do you think it matters to the 4 dead men’s failies that they might be alive if security had been increased?

      If it was your brother would want the government to at least try to save him, after they had already left him hanging with inadequate protection.

      Does it matter that the woman in charge of providing security for the ambassador,is such an inept administrator that she does not read his e-mails? As Secretary of State does not know Libya is an ustable state and a hotbed for islamic terrorists?
      Does not know about the multiple attacks earlier in the year? Does ont seem to understand the significance of 9/11.

      Does it matter this same person wants to bve president?

      Does it matter that this stinks to high heaven of her covering her rear end so she can keep her chances of becoming president alive?

      • lb 22 says:

        “Does it matter that they refused to increase security for the Ambassador as he requested?”

        Are you calling for a hearing into why Republicans in congress opposed a request from Obama for increased funds for security at foreign missions? My guess is that they wanted to deny Obama anything he wanted, no matter how sensible or necessary the request therefore putting politics above the lives of diplomats overseas.

      • Deep Time says:

        ABADMAN: “Does it matter that they refused to increase security for the Ambassador as he requested?”

        A question for your question: “Does it matter that the GOP refused requested funding levels for State Department security as State had requested?”

        To note:

        “For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.) Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.”

        • Abadman says:

          From the huffington post:

          “It takes funding to protect an embassy,” Boxer said during remarks on the Senate floor. “Who cut the funds from embassy security? The Republicans in the House, that is who — hundreds of millions of dollars … They ought to ask: Mirror, mirror, who cut the funding for diplomatic security across this world for America? The answer: Republicans.”

          But the Washington Post gave Boxer “three Pinocchios” for her claims and pointed to the fact that State Department officials “repeatedly told Congress that a lack of funds was not an issue.” Instead, the Post states, Benghazi security was hampered because of bureaucratic obstacles and management failures.

          you guys are pathetic

        • Abadman says:

          oh and I am also guessing that you agree it does matter

        • Abadman says:

          from the Washington Post 5/16 Fact Check

          “The Department of State’s base requests for security funding have increased by 38 percent since Fiscal Year (FY) 2007, and base budget appropriations have increased by 27 percent in the same time period,” said the bipartisan Senate Homeland Security Committee report on the Benghazi attack.

        • Abadman says:

          More form the post:

          In fact, the Congressional Research Service has documented that Congress, whether led by Democrats and Republicans, year after year did not fully fund the various pots of money for embassy security. (See page 25.) The State Department, for instance, was shortchanged by $142 million in fiscal year 2010, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

          Damn those repubs, I mean dems, I mean…

        • Abadman says:

          The Washington times quoting bob Woodward:

          “But be warned, White House: Bob Woodward, who knows a thing or two about scandals and cover-ups, isn’t falling for the double head fake.

          “If you read through all these emails,” the Watergate reporter said, “you see that everyone in the government is saying, ‘Oh, let’s not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaeda. Let’s not tell the public that there were warnings.’”

          So you are telling me the main players in leaving these two key facts out were not the State Department and Whitehouse.

          I know low level staffers were to blame.

  25. Something similar happened to Dan Rather who got played on the George W. Bush Air Force Reserve paperwork. Even though Dan Rather had not seen the paperwork (for something this important, shouldn’t the network at least send a producer to look at the originals?), he reported the story as if he had. And this dust up effectively ended his career.

    • Abadman says:

      Karl never actually saw the emails. They were not released until recently. Karls report was based on a summary of the E-mails, probably from a Republician staffer who saw them when they were shown to crongressional comittees and took some notes. The report Karl filed was more of a paraphrasing of the e-mail which I do not believe was make clear when he originally reported it.

      Whether there is a siginificant difference or not sort of depends on what you already think about the the whole mess.

      I am of the mind that it does not take 12 tries to get the truth right

  26. Bill Dedman says:

    Jay, this is an excellent post, connecting the dots for those of us outside of Washington group-think. Thank you.

  27. Abadman says:

    Wow, the e-mail from Ben Rhodes did not say State Department. Now there is a major scandal. The Karl report was from notes taken from the e-mails. I think it was “investigation”, in the original as well, not “FBI investigation” as Karl reported. Wow, another scandal. Is it possible the State Department could be one of the “agency equities”? Why leave out the original E-mail that was so different from the one Karl reported? Is it because it is not all that different and would undermine your point?

    “Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.

    “There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.

    “We can take this up tomorrow morning at deputies.”

    These are not “all” of the e-mails either. They start on Sept. 14. Where are the e-mails from the 11th to the 14th? How does the story get from Hicks’ impression of a planned attack, to “spontaneously inspired”? Especially when the facts, as we now know them, support Hicks’ version of events. Nor do they shed any lights on how the Video became the focus of Susan Rice’s appearances on the Sunday talk shows. Ironically, “a ton of wrong information” did get out “into the public domain” that created a “hardened mis-impression”. It was just one that benefited the Obama Administration. But, Karl is the real bad guy here.

    Ben Rhodes is White House
    Victoria Nuland is State Department
    Both have fingerprints all over the talking points.
    If you’re telling the truth it usually does not take 12 tries to get it right.

  28. [...] of ABC News’s Jonathan Karl and the fabricated email about Benghazi talking points, and says Karl got played by his source. But at FAIR, Peter Hart makes a strong case that Karl was a right-wing mole all [...]

  29. [...] story immediately when new information became available.” As critics from Rachel Maddow through Jay Rosen have noted, clearer attribution surely would have helped. The story, after all, claimed that ABC News had [...]

  30. [...] As Jay Rosen and others have pointed out, the White House affirmatively accused Congressional Republicans of [...]

  31. Abadman says:

    sorry for a double post

    The Washington Times quoting Bob Woodward:

    “But be warned, White House: Bob Woodward, who knows a thing or two about scandals and cover-ups, isn’t falling for the double head fake.

    “If you read through all these emails,” the Watergate reporter said, “you see that everyone in the government is saying, ‘Oh, let’s not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaeda. Let’s not tell the public that there were warnings.’”

    So you are telling me the main players in leaving these two key facts out were not the State Department and Whitehouse.

    I know low level staffers were to blame.

  32. [...] Karl’s error — compounded by his “cover-up” even more than his original “crime” — contained news that falsely appeared good [...]

  33. [...] Karl’s error — compounded by his “cover-up” even more than his original “crime” — contained news that falsely appeared good [...]

  34. Abadman says:

    Josh Rogin, Daily Beast 5/20:

    Following the attack in Benghazi, senior State Department officials close to Hillary Clinton ordered the removal of a mid-level official who had no role in security decisions and has never been told the charges against him. He is now accusing Clinton’s team of scapegoating him for the failures that led to the death of four Americans last year.

    The decision to place Maxwell on administrative leave was made by Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, according to three State Department officials with direct knowledge of the events. On the day after the unclassified version of the ARB’s report was released in December, Mills called Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones and directed her to have Maxwell leave his job immediately

    The decision to remove Maxwell and not Jones seems to conflict with the finding of the ARB that responsibility for the security failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi should fall on more senior officials.

    Jones and Dibble were responsible for security in Libya, Maxwell and three State Department officials said. What’s more, when Maxwell was promoted to his DAS position in August 2011, most responsibility for Libya was carved out of his portfolio, which also included Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Although Maxwell did some work on Libya, all security related decisions were handled by Dibble and Jones, according to the three officials

    what does it matter? it is not like they got his phone records.

  35. Ann Wilson says:

    What a bunch of nonsense, Jay Rosen.

    You weren’t honest and you encouraged the attacks on a reporter in the comments. What a proud moment for you.

    The thurst of his report was not Ben Rhodes. The thurst of his report was what Victoria Nuland wrote. And you avoided that in your post. You are less than honest and the attacks on Jonathan Karl are encouraged by you because you fail to point out that Nuland was the point of the reporting. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  36. Abadman says:

    Will ther be an update with the Wash Post’s Kessler’s take on this?

    Three Pinocchios

  37. [...] with this bit of inside baseball…I don’t blame you. You can get a good overview of it here, from Jay Rosen, leading media [...]

  38. Asleep at the wheel says:

    It’s hard to get upset about this story when the MSM gave up on actual reporting as early as 2002. I try not to think about the lives that might have been saved if just one major news organization examined the evidence justifying war in Iraq. I rely on Google searches for information now but of course that means I’m in constant danger of being stuck in a partisan bubble of my own making. Thanks alot MSM.

  39. [...] Karl’s error — compounded by his “cover-up” even more than his original “crime” — contained news that falsely appeared good for [...]

  40. [...] its Jonathan Karl into misleading and false coverage of the Benghazi story (read Jay Rosen’s great piece on [...]

  41. [...] For all that Daisey understands about journalists, he underestimated one of their weaknesses: They are quick to tear each other apart, including anyone who ventures onto their turf. They will even smell blood in a misquote or a misbegotten exclusive. Look at the glee that Jay Rosen recently took in drawing-and-quartering Jonathan Karl. [...]

  42. Sharon says:

    Jonathon Karl has been so obviously anti Obama since he took over the post. When watching Jake Tapper, I never thought he was for Dems or Reps. However, Jon Karl has been so obviously anti Obama that I wonder about ABC news. Am now watching with a much more hesitant view of the truth of their political stories. It is not just Karl’s reporting on this issue but his comments on all of his reporting! You don’t get led into “misleading” reporting unless you want it to be that way.

  43. I haven’t been following this story incredibly close, but this was very interesting from beginning to end. I’m excited to read more and get more of an idea of everything that is happening right now. Thanks for sharing.

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  46. [...] by CNN, CBS and by the White House release of the emails in question. But Karl and his network refused to back down, even though he’d been caught red-handed, continuing to insist that his reporting was [...]