Axelrod, Benghazi & NBC
On February 19, 2013, NBC and MSNBC announced that they hired President Barack Obama's senior strategist David Axelrod as a "senior political analyst" to appear exclusively on their networks. Given that both NBC and MSNBC claim to be news organizations, perhaps it will occur to them to ask Axelrod what the factual basis was for statements he made on November 4, 2012 (two days before the Presidential election) to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Axelrod was asked about the attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. Axelrod stated:
[I]mmediately when word of the attack came, the president was meeting with his top national security folks. He was talking to them well into the night. He was in touch with them, during the day, as -- during the next day as well. [snip]
[E]verything -- everything was put in motion, that he could put in motion. Everything -- every conversation that needed to be had was being had between him and his top national security officials.
It is vital to find out the factual basis for Axelrod's statements because they are inconsistent with statements made under oath by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, when they testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7, 2013. Both Panetta and Dempsey testified that they had one conversation with Obama about Benghazi on September 11, 2012, which occurred between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. (ET) during the attack. Their testimony on this point comes at about 1:56:30 and at 3:59:00 into the C-SPAN recording of the hearing under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Despite Axelrod's statement that Obama "was talking to them well into the night," neither Panetta nor Dempsey made any such assertion. Moreover, there was no indication from Panetta and Dempsey that "every conversation that needed to be had was being had between him [Obama] and his top national security officials."
Now that NBC and MSNBC are paying Axelrod, perhaps they will ask Axelrod the factual basis for his statements. Was Axelrod present with Obama during the night of September 11, 2012? Did Obama tell Axelrod that he "was talking to" Panetta and Dempsey "well into the night"? Was Axelrod told by somebody else, perhaps Valerie Jarrett or Michelle Obama, that President Obama "was talking to" Panetta and Dempsey "well into the night"? Does Axelrod believe that Panetta and Dempsey lied? Did Axelrod deliberately make false statements to the public two days before the election to boost Obama's chances for victory? If asked, perhaps Axelrod will give a complete and accurate answer. Perhaps a Congressional committee should ask Axelrod about this and Axelrod can give a complete and accurate answer under oath. Perhaps NBC and MSNBC should examine their present credibility problems and ask whether their employment of Axelrod will increase their credibility.
Allan J. Favish is an attorney in Los Angeles. His website is allanfavish.com. He has co-authored with James Fernald a new book about what might happen if the government ran Disneyland entitled "Fireworks! If the Government Ran the Fairest Kingdom of Them All (A Very Unauthorized Fantasy).