Fox News’ right-leaning audience and its liberal critics don’t agree on much, but both were expecting that Hillary Clinton would get plenty of questions on the Benghazi attack when she agreed to appear on the network Tuesday night — and Fox did not disappoint.
More than a third of the 30-plus minute live joint interview with anchors Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren was devoted to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the diplomatic compound in Libya. All came from Baier. He dove right in with his first question and didn’t let up on Benghazi for the next eight minutes.
“I have some more specific Benghazi questions. You may have imagined that,” he said at one point midway through the segment.
Clinton stood her ground throughout and did not deviate meaningfully from previous answers she’s given.
Next up was Van Susteren, who steered clear of the attack and instead asked Clinton about Afghanistan, the release of former Taliban prisoner Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and Iraq. Clinton called then-Sen. Joe Biden’s 2006 argument to partition Iraq into three states “creative,” but “impossible” at the time. She did not outright dismiss it, however.
After that, three minutes for commercial break.
When they returned, it was back to Baier and back to Benghazi. “Two quick follow-ups on Benghazi then I want to move to something else,” Baier said. Four minutes of back-and-forth and no news later, Baier asked his first non-Benghazi question: “Did President Obama, during his first term, ever seriously disappoint you in any way?” No, Clinton responded.
Under questioning from Van Susteren, however, Clinton allowed some oxygen to reach the smoldering controversy over the alleged IRS targeting of tea-party nonprofit groups. Obama has called it a “phony scandal,” but when asked about his remark, Clinton replied, “I think that anytime the IRS is involved, for many people, it is a real scandal.” She defended Obama, saying “the circus around these investigations” can obfuscate what’s really happening, but also called for more investigations.
Van Susteren also grilled Clinton on the National Security Agency’s data-collection practices, and got Clinton to agree that things needed to be rebalanced in favor of privacy a bit. “The emergency is over…. We want to get back to regular order,” Clinton said, while avoiding specifics. She also called the tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone “absolutely uncalled for.”
Asked about women in politics, Clinton replied, “I do believe that sexism is still a problem. It’s not just in politics. It’s in journalism and business and all kinds of human endeavors in our country.” Van Susteren agreed, saying she has witnessed Clinton getting attacked for her gender, but chided female Democrats — without naming the former presidential candidate specifically — for failing to come to Sarah Palin’s defense in 2008 when some bloggers suggested her youngest child was not actually hers.
Altogether, about 13 minutes on Benghazi and 20 minutes on all other topics combined.