Fox News Looks for Smoking Gun on Benghazi, but Finds News Elsewhere in Clinton Interview

The news network favored by conservatives did not disappoint with its focus on the 2012 terror attack.

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MAY 06: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks during the National Council for Behavioral Health's Annual Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on May 6, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. Clinton discussed various topics including mental health and social issues.
National Journal
Alex Seitz Wald
Add to Briefcase
Alex Seitz-Wald
June 17, 2014, 4:40 p.m.

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.

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