ABC News' Karl Clashes With Jay Carney Over Benghazi

Wednesday, 30 Apr 2014 06:52 PM

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ABC News reporter Jon Karl tangled with White House press secretary Jay Carney Wednesday over a newly released White House email chain covering "talking points" given then-Ambassador Susan Rice after the deadly 2012 Benghazi terror attack.

Republicans charged Tuesday that a White House official's email advice to Rice to link the attack to an anti-Muslim video confirms the connection was fabricated to help President Barack Obama's re-election.

At the heart of Wednesday's 8-minute skirmish between Karl and Carney was Rice's appearance on five Sunday shows after the attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi – and where her information came from.

Carney was part of the email chain, the Daily Caller reports.

“You knew full well that these Sunday show appearances were going to be dominated by the attack on Benghazi, as they were,” Karl fumed after Carney insisted Rice’s talking points were geared toward addressing region-wide protests as well as the Benghazi attack.

Story continues below video.



Karl then hammered Carney on the sourcing for Rice's information, thundering:

"Ambassador Rice went on those shows, and she said that the attack in Benghazi was rooted in protests over an Internet video.

"We now know that that was not true, that, in fact, the CIA Director, [Michael] Morell, just — former Director Morell just testified last month that quote, 'when she talked about the video, my reaction was, that’s not something the analysts have attributed this attack to.'

"It did not come from the CIA. You stood there at the podium time after time and said that she was referring to talking points created by the CIA. Now we see a document that comes from the White House, not from the CIA, attributing the protests to the video, and we have the former director of the CIA saying that that was not something that his analysts had attributed it to."

Carney fired back, saying: "I would point you to what Mike Morell has said repeatedly in testimony about the creation of the talking points," at which point Karl broke in, noting:

"Well, now we have new talking points, and you didn’t release them...."

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Carney then scolded, "Let me finish, please. Jon, I answered that question. The fact of the matter is, there were protests in the region. The talking points cited protests at that facility. The connection between protests and video — and the video turned out not to be the case, but it was based on the best information that we had, and the fact that there were protests...."

But Karl countered "it was not based on what the CIA was saying, Jay," adding: "This is what Morell said just last month, that when he heard that, he said that is not something our analysts have said. So that, now we see, came from the White House, right?"

"Jon, no, you're wrong," Carney blasted back.

"If you look at that document, that document that we’re talking about today was about the overall environment in the Muslim world — the protests outside of Khartoum — the embassy in Khartoum, outside of the embassy in Tunis, the protests outside of the embassy in Cairo. These were big stories."

Karl also pounded Carney for "holding back" the email information.

"Why was this email not turned over to the Congress?" he asked. "Why was it not released when you released all the other emails? This is directly relevant. Why did you hold this back?"

Carney replied, "I can say it again and again, and I know you can keep asking again and again. This document was not about Benghazi."

The full transcript of the exchange was published by the Washington Free Beacon.

On Tuesday, Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the Nationlal Security Council, railed at critics who are “politicizing” evidence from the newly released email.

“Unlike those who insist on politicizing the events in Benghazi, our focus remains on ensuring that a tragedy like this isn’t repeated in Libya or anywhere else in the world,” she said, the Daily Caller reports.

Yet, the Daily Caller noted, one of the emails was written by Ben Rhodes, Obama’s chief foreign policy spokesman, describing the political goals for Rice on the talk show circuit – "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, not a broader failure of policy."

Karl and Carney have been frequent combatants at White House press briefings, including on the subjects of Obamacare and last fall's government shutdown.

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