The Benghazi “scandal” is back in the headlines, meaning everyone is angling for a scoop, the soundbite that will gain their network countless replays. Nowhere was that more evident than on the Sunday news shows this weekend, where many of the shows’ hosts and reporters opted to give credence to the fringe notion that President Obama should be impeached over his administration’s handling of the Benghazi terror attacks.
Last week, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) — himself an ardent proponent of several conspiracy theories — said that the investigation on what happened in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya will lead to articles of impeachment being filed against Obama. Inhofe claimed that Benghazi would prove to be the “most egregious” cover-up in history — worse than the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, and Iran-Contra.
There is to date zero evidence that President Obama committed any crimes regarding Benghazi. But rather than relegating Inhofe’s statement to the fringe where it belongs, the majority of Sunday shows’ anchors chose to ask their guests to comment on it:
CNN’s RELIABLE SOURCES
HOWARD KURTZ: Well, at the same time, Margaret Carlson, have some conservative outlets hiked this into crusade with talk of impeachment?
CNN’s STATE OF THE UNION
CANDY CROWLEY: That’s pretty big. Do you see something in Benghazi either in the handling before, during, or after with the talking points that were scrubbed that the i-word, the impeachment word should come up?
ABC’S THIS WEEK
MARTHA RADDITZ: Let’s look at what happened because of the e-mails. Tom Pickering said the idea of a cover-up is absurd. Stephen King, Republican from Iowa, said it was bigger than Watergate. And this is what James Inhofe said
Despite the anchors’ best efforts, the guests themselves pushed back, refusing to go along with attempts to goad them into joining Inhofe’s belief in a future impeachment. “You know, they’ve been looking for Watergate for so long that, you know, they went too far on Benghazi,” said Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson to Kurtz. Even ardent believer in a Benghazi cover-up Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) demurred when faced with Inhofe’s comments. “With all due respect, I think this is a serious issue. I will even give the president the benefit of the doubt on some of these things,” McCain told Raddatz.
David Gregory, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, offered the best example of how to handle Inhofe’s comments, wondering whether raising impeachment on Benghazi hurts the GOP’s credibility. “You’ve got Republicans talking about this being Watergate — one Republican raising the specter of impeachment, conservative groups raising money of the Benghazi story. Are you hurting your own credibility and your own fact-finding mission by politically overreaching?” Gregory asked House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).
The substantive points about the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi have already been litigated. The House Republicans’ subsequent “investigations” and inquiries from media outlets like Fox News have turned up nothing new. Yet that may not stop Republicans from pushing impeachment, which would require a majority vote in the House of Representatives that the President broke the law in some facet, followed by a trial held in the Senate. So far, only two Presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1867 and Bill Clinton in 1998.