Media Portrayal Of Benghazi Controversy Shifted After Election

According to The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, the media’s coverage of the Benghazi controversy shifted after the presidential election:

Since House Republicans released an interim report on Benghazi on April 24, 58% of sources in major newspapers have faulted the Obama administration’s response to the attacks, while 42% exonerated the administration for its performance. Most of the criticism came from Republican sources, who were 100% critical of the administration. Among all other sources (including Democrats), 71% supported the administration’s actions and 29% were critical. …

By contrast, an earlier CMPA study of the first month’s coverage after the attack found that the coverage mainly followed the government’s perspective. The attack was depicted in terms of a spontaneous protest 535 times, four times as often as a planned attack – 130 times. In addition, the terms mentioned most frequently (868 times) were related to the theme of hate speech vs. free speech. This reflected protests over the film “Innocence of Muslims,” to which the administration originally attributed the attack.

These findings suggest that the early news coverage reflected White House and State Department portrayals of the attack, rather than Republican charges that they reflected a planned act of terrorism.

A previous report from the CMPA found that the media coverage of Benghazi mostly followed White House talking points.

The question is, was this shift a calculated one because of the election? Or was the media just waiting until Republicans to hold hearings and present substance to back up their allegations?

I suspect media types will claim the former, even if their track record suggests the latter is more likely.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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