Why the Media Don't Want You to See the Must-See 13 Hours

The more naïve members of the Hillary Clinton campaign have long dreaded the release of Michael Bay's factual account of the Benghazi attack, 13 Hours.  The more sophisticated members of that campaign were less worried.  They were confident their friends in the media would scare off all but the most deluded "tea-baggers."

Yes, the media will try.  They are trying.  I am not sure, however, that they will succeed.  In the age of social media, word of mouth is much more significant a force than it ever was before.  And the word of mouth on 13 Hours will be justifiably powerful.  The movie is riveting from beginning to end.

I saw the movie without benefit of having read a review. I was further burdened by the fact that I know the story well; I have written extensively about Benghazi.  When the movie begins with the words on screen, "This is a true story," and not the usual "This is based on a true story," I was prepared to hold the filmmakers to account.  They were as good as their word.

In reading the reviews afterward, I sensed some relief among the critics that the movie was not overtly political.  The names of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, for instance, go unmentioned.  In a feint at sophistication, some critics held this against director Bay.

"The Benghazi situation illustrated something important about the state of our world today. We still haven't entirely figured out the specifics of it all," writes Aisle Seat's Michael McGranahan.  "13 Hours doesn't really try to be a meaningful part of the conversation. It just wants to use a genuine tragedy to elicit some mindless thrills and push the audience's patriotism button."

In fact, the news media, let alone the entertainment media, have shown no interest in a "conversation" about Benghazi, meaningful or otherwise.  They have labored mightily for the last three-plus years to keep Benghazi out of the news.  Had Bay explored the lies about an impending genocide that paved the way to our subversion of the Gaddafi regime, or the arms trafficking in which the CIA was engaged after Gaddafi's murder, he would have needed a mini-series.

Instead, Bay confined himself to the 13 hours of "genuine tragedy."  Monohla Dargis of the New York Times missed the "tragedy" part of the story.  Born and raised in Manhattan, Dargis opened her review by suggesting that 13 Hours was little more than "a protracted advertisement for a Mercedes-Benz S.U.V."  I think Ted Cruz would see Dargis's myopia as an unmistakable symptom of of "New York values," and he would be right.  Dargis summed up the film as "45 minutes of setup and an eternity of relentless combat."

Like Dargis, many reviewers make no attempt to disguise their contempt for the film's likely audience.  "It feels real enough," writes the Austin Chronicle's Marc Savlov of the film's action, "but I couldn't help thinking: Is this the movie a Muslim-phobic, paranoid, and outright reactionary America really needs right now?"

Fellow critic Travis Hopson of the Examiner certainly doesn't think so.  Having convinced himself that "numerous investigations have revealed the full story of what happened," he refuses to buy what 13 hours has to sell. "The film fits into the same conserva-fantasy zone that 'American Sniper' occupies," he sneers, "in that it wraps heroic stories in a thick layer of Fox News-endorsed bullcrap."

I am not cherry-picking reviews here. On Metacritic, which  measures overall critical response to a film, 13 Hours scores a 48 out a 100.  All anti-war, anti-Bush films score higher.  Unwatchable – and unwatched – bores Green Zone and In the Valley of Elah score a 63 and 65, respectively.  Michael Moore's appallingly dishonest Farenheit 911 scores a 67.  George Clooney's Syriana gets a 76.  His 1999 film Three Kings, which reflected the left's lament du jour that the senior George Bush did not "finish the job" in Iraq, gets an 82.

One reviewer had a different take altogether.  That was Pat Smith.  In fact, she walked out of the movie.  She could not bear to watch the re-enactment of her son Sean Smith's death.  Pat Smith has been trying to have a "meaningful conversation" about the reasons why her son had to die for more than three years.  She has not gotten it.

Smith has claimed that Hillary Clinton told her an anti-Muslim video was responsible.  Hillary has denied it.  "That is just plain old bull!" Smith told Megyn Kelly recently.  "I know what she said, and not only did she say it, but Obama said the same thing to me.  And Panetta.  And Biden.  And Susan Rice.  I went up to all of them, begging them to tell me what happened.  And they all said that it was the video.  Every one of them."

The media do not what their readers to know what Smith knows for one very real reason.  If they did, and if they saw 13 Hours, and if they had any conscience, they could never bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.

The more naïve members of the Hillary Clinton campaign have long dreaded the release of Michael Bay's factual account of the Benghazi attack, 13 Hours.  The more sophisticated members of that campaign were less worried.  They were confident their friends in the media would scare off all but the most deluded "tea-baggers."

Yes, the media will try.  They are trying.  I am not sure, however, that they will succeed.  In the age of social media, word of mouth is much more significant a force than it ever was before.  And the word of mouth on 13 Hours will be justifiably powerful.  The movie is riveting from beginning to end.

I saw the movie without benefit of having read a review. I was further burdened by the fact that I know the story well; I have written extensively about Benghazi.  When the movie begins with the words on screen, "This is a true story," and not the usual "This is based on a true story," I was prepared to hold the filmmakers to account.  They were as good as their word.

In reading the reviews afterward, I sensed some relief among the critics that the movie was not overtly political.  The names of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, for instance, go unmentioned.  In a feint at sophistication, some critics held this against director Bay.

"The Benghazi situation illustrated something important about the state of our world today. We still haven't entirely figured out the specifics of it all," writes Aisle Seat's Michael McGranahan.  "13 Hours doesn't really try to be a meaningful part of the conversation. It just wants to use a genuine tragedy to elicit some mindless thrills and push the audience's patriotism button."

In fact, the news media, let alone the entertainment media, have shown no interest in a "conversation" about Benghazi, meaningful or otherwise.  They have labored mightily for the last three-plus years to keep Benghazi out of the news.  Had Bay explored the lies about an impending genocide that paved the way to our subversion of the Gaddafi regime, or the arms trafficking in which the CIA was engaged after Gaddafi's murder, he would have needed a mini-series.

Instead, Bay confined himself to the 13 hours of "genuine tragedy."  Monohla Dargis of the New York Times missed the "tragedy" part of the story.  Born and raised in Manhattan, Dargis opened her review by suggesting that 13 Hours was little more than "a protracted advertisement for a Mercedes-Benz S.U.V."  I think Ted Cruz would see Dargis's myopia as an unmistakable symptom of of "New York values," and he would be right.  Dargis summed up the film as "45 minutes of setup and an eternity of relentless combat."

Like Dargis, many reviewers make no attempt to disguise their contempt for the film's likely audience.  "It feels real enough," writes the Austin Chronicle's Marc Savlov of the film's action, "but I couldn't help thinking: Is this the movie a Muslim-phobic, paranoid, and outright reactionary America really needs right now?"

Fellow critic Travis Hopson of the Examiner certainly doesn't think so.  Having convinced himself that "numerous investigations have revealed the full story of what happened," he refuses to buy what 13 hours has to sell. "The film fits into the same conserva-fantasy zone that 'American Sniper' occupies," he sneers, "in that it wraps heroic stories in a thick layer of Fox News-endorsed bullcrap."

I am not cherry-picking reviews here. On Metacritic, which  measures overall critical response to a film, 13 Hours scores a 48 out a 100.  All anti-war, anti-Bush films score higher.  Unwatchable – and unwatched – bores Green Zone and In the Valley of Elah score a 63 and 65, respectively.  Michael Moore's appallingly dishonest Farenheit 911 scores a 67.  George Clooney's Syriana gets a 76.  His 1999 film Three Kings, which reflected the left's lament du jour that the senior George Bush did not "finish the job" in Iraq, gets an 82.

One reviewer had a different take altogether.  That was Pat Smith.  In fact, she walked out of the movie.  She could not bear to watch the re-enactment of her son Sean Smith's death.  Pat Smith has been trying to have a "meaningful conversation" about the reasons why her son had to die for more than three years.  She has not gotten it.

Smith has claimed that Hillary Clinton told her an anti-Muslim video was responsible.  Hillary has denied it.  "That is just plain old bull!" Smith told Megyn Kelly recently.  "I know what she said, and not only did she say it, but Obama said the same thing to me.  And Panetta.  And Biden.  And Susan Rice.  I went up to all of them, begging them to tell me what happened.  And they all said that it was the video.  Every one of them."

The media do not what their readers to know what Smith knows for one very real reason.  If they did, and if they saw 13 Hours, and if they had any conscience, they could never bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.