An impassioned plea to halt the politicization of the attack in Benghazi came from surprising quarters this morning. Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera, appearing on Fox and Friends, rattled through several right-wing talking points about what the Obama administration could have and didn’t do during the Sept. 11 assault, debunking each of them.
Rivera was primarily responding to statements just minutes before by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), who sits on the House Government and Oversight Committee. In his remarks, Kelly claimed that the Pentagon was unable or unwilling to respond to the attack, which wound up killing four Americans, despite “real-time” information coming in. Rivera pushed back on Kelly’s claims and the idea that military assets could have made it to Libya in time:
RIVERA: I think we need to stop this politicizing, we’re getting away from the real issue, which is why wasn’t there security before it happened. But these preposterous allegations, reckless allegations, that somebody — They paint a picture of some fat bureaucrat watching TV. You heard him describe it, Congressman Kelly. I think that’s really beyond the pale.
“In terms of the military, stop these politicians” from telling the military what they could have done, Rivera went on. Kelly’s claims centered around a recent idea that the U.S. could have launched a military assault from a base in Europe to counter the attack. Rivera pointed to statements from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that indicated that information on the ground was not clear enough to warrant sending U.S. forces into harms way.
Rivera also took flack for agreeing with various Republican Senators that the current political climate was not conducive to holding an investigation into Libya. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has instead scheduled hearings into possible intelligence failures prior to and during the attack for after the election.
The hosts of Fox and Friends were not as willing to acknowledge these facts as Rivera, repeatedly attempting to bring him back on the narrative. At one point Brian Kilmead insisted that the State Department is wrong in not immediately issuing a judgement on precisely what happened in the incident, as “al Qaeda isn’t waiting.” This isn’t the first time that Rivera has gone off the conservative narrative on Libya, with Fox News hosts failing to rein him in.