MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Chuck Todd downplayed the significance of today's Benghazi hearings Wednesday on "Morning Joe."
Todd acknowledged wrongdoing may have been committed by some in the State Department, but was incredulous at the suggestion the White House actively attempted to cover up a terrorist attack in the midst of the presidential campaign:
CHUCK TODD: I think there is something, there is sense that there has got to be something. They have to get this guy on scandal rather than the fact they won on the issues in 2010 right, when they were able to win on health are. You would say wouldn't you rather win that way is number one. And is there really a there, there? For this conspiracy theory that some people believe is out there, that the White House was trying to downplay a terrorist attack because of the election, then they did a really poor job of it. Because within three or four days, it was pretty clear to the entire world this was a terrorist attack from a group that had some sort of extremist Al Qaeda ties.
Todd's assertion that charges of White House intervention to downplay the terrorist aspect of Benghazi for political purposes amount to a "conspiracy theory" is highly disputable, as he fails to establish an alternative rationale to explain White House involvement in the changes to initial CIA talking points.
Alana Goodman of The Washington Free Beacon writes:
The CIA talking points on which administration officials relied during initial public interviews were edited multiple times to remove references to al Qaeda and terrorism at the behest of State Department and White House officials, according to emails obtained by congressional investigators.
Two of these officials were former State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland and White House national security official Ben Rhodes, the Weekly Standard reported Friday.
Nuland said her superiors were not happy with the talking points and were concerned Congress would use them against the State Department, according to the Standard. She did not name the superiors.
The White House, which was previously accused of slow-rolling the Benghazi investigation until after last November’s election, is now downplaying it as old news.
“Let’s be clear,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday. “Benghazi happened a long time ago. We are unaware of any agency blocking an employee who would like to appear before Congress to provide information related to Benghazi.”
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on Benghazi begins at 11:30 today.