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Sunday Shows Figure Prominently in Benghazi Report

The recently released report from the Senate Select Committee on Benghazi singles out a number of media-related revelations it says resulted from its investigation of the 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Among those were that State Department employees were shocked by UN ambassador Susan Rice's Sunday talk show appearances when she cited an inflammatory internet video and linked it to the attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

The report details numerous appearances on the network public affairs shows—with dozens of pages of transcripts—including on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, when she said the attacks were "a direct result of a heinous and offensive [internet] video."

Rice had said she relied for her assessments on the Sunday shows "solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community."

But the committee report cited State Department reaction trying to refute that.

The report said that Rice's comments were met with sock and disbelief by State Department employees.

"The Senior Libya Desk Officer, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, wrote: 'I think Rice was off the reservation on this one,'" said the report. "The Deputy Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, responded: 'Off the reservation on five networks!' The Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, Bureau of Near East Affairs, State Department, wrote: 'WH [White House] very worried about the politics. This was all their doing.'”

In its own report issued Monday to steal some of the thunder of the Republican majority report, Democrats said the investigation had turned up no credible information that anyone in the Administration about the attacks and cited Rice's explanation that she was relying on CIA info. It said that Rice's Sunday show statements were based on those and that Republicans "simply disregard the established fact that the intelligence community's assessments changed repeatedly, and the Administration's public statements changed with them."

It also cited stories in The Washington Post and New York Times that cited various officials and witnesses saying the video, which disparaged Muhammad, had prompted the attacks.

Democrats say the investigation was a witch hunt meant to undercut Clinton's presidential bid.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.