When the record of the American press is written about this election, and especially concerning the Benghazi debacle, most of the media ombudspersons will issue their predictable clucking noises about how their sheets really should have taken the murder of an American ambassador and three others, including an ex-Navy SEAL, more seriously at the time. It will be an appalling record of sweeping a major issue under the rug, or at the very least colluding in an attempt at the highest levels to kick the can down the road until the voters had rendered a judgment.
ABC's Jake Tapper will stand as an honorable exception to the media rule of looking away. Tapper's column -- "President Obama Begs Off Answering Whether Americans in Benghazi were Denied Requests for Help" -- asks the only question for which we need an answer at this critical moment. And the Beggar Off-in-Chief has been thus far successful in stringing the rest of the mainstream media along. Tapper credits a local newsman, KUSA TV's Kyle Clarke, with the courage and tenacity to press on this unanswered question.
Here's the quoted dialog:
President Obama: Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do.
[W]e want to make sure we get it right, particularly because I have made a commitment to the families impacted as well as to the American people, we're going to bring those folks to justice. So, we're going to gather all the facts, find out exactly what happened, and make sure that it doesn't happen again but we're also going to make sure that we bring to justice those who carried out these attacks.
Clarke pressed again: Were they denied requests for help during the attack?
President Obama: Well, we are finding out exactly what happened...
This sounds eerily familiar. None of us wants to remember those miserable days of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal of 1998. But President Clinton strung the country along for seven months, saying he wanted to find out exactly what happened. Was he even there, in the Oval Office, when the alleged activities occurred? Well, that depends on what you mean by "was."
Surely, Bill Clinton knew what Bill Clinton had done. It was only in August 1998 that he delivered a nationally televised address to admit that he had lied to the country. He dragged us through all of that before admitting his lie.
And during those months of covering up and lying, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States, Saddam Hussein kicked out U.N. arms inspectors, and bin Laden's jihadists attacked our U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Uganda. Two hundred and twelve people died in those attacks, including twelve Americans. More than 4,000 were wounded.
Lying, obfuscating, and begging off at the top can have terrible consequences for Americans and for our friends in a dangerous world.
Where was President Obama on the night of September 11? He says he gave orders to do everything we could do to protect our people in Benghazi. Show us those orders. Were they written? If so, who countermanded those orders? Surely, the commander-in-chief would want to know -- right now -- if some subordinate decided on his or her own authority not to follow a directive from the president of the United States.
We know that General Alexander Haig had taken upon himself the responsibility of having to confirm orders from President Nixon when that embattled, lying chief executive was in the throes of Watergate. Maybe that's where General Haig got that misimpression that he was in charge in the White House.
President Obama knows where he was that bloody night of September 11. He knows what he ordered done that night. He knows that everything possible was not done to protect the lives of four Americans. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glenn Doherty, and Sean Smith paid the ultimate price for the fact that everything was not done.
Jake Tapper and Kyle Clarke are doing the American people's business when they press for answers. Sometimes, when you speak truth to power, you only need to get a straight answer to a pressing question.
Ken Blackwell, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He is a visiting professor at the Liberty University School of Law.