Is the Media Walking Us Into Another War?
On September 20, just days after the American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans had been murdered in a terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, a crowd of some 30,000 Libyans jammed the main square of that city to protest his death. They carried signs that read, “We want justice for Chris” and “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya lost a friend.”
When members of the Ansar al-Sharia militia—an Islamist terrorist organization linked to al Qaeda—tried to hold a counter-demonstration, the crowd erupted into fury, chanting, “You terrorists, you cowards, go back to Afghanistan.” The newly free citizens of Libya then marched spontaneously on Ansar al-Sharia’s encampment, setting it on fire, and confiscating much of the group’s weaponry, even braving gunfire from the well-armed terrorists that left four dead. The crowd then went on to systematically destroy the camps of several other such militias, and hand their weapons over to the official Libyan military.
Surely, this was the biggest news story to come out of the Middle East over the last month. It should have been a huge story, potentially a watershed moment, a signal of some profound shifts taking place in the region. One might have expected extensive follow-up stories and intense speculation about just what it all means.
Instead, after the initial report of the demonstration, this remarkable story was dropped down the memory hole. Why? Because once again, a pliant mainstream media has been cowed into line by the right wing’s conspiracy machine, which backfired loudly the other night, when Mitt Romney took up the right’s party line without even a rudimentary fact check, and tried to insist during the second presidential debate that President Obama had not dared to call Stevens’s murder a terrorist attack for two weeks.
In fact, the president had condemned this “act of terror” at a Rose Garden press conference the day after it happened—something that debate moderator Candy Crowley quietly affirmed in the course of the debate. Ever since, outraged right-wing commentators have poured into the Fox News studios, condemning Ms. Crowley for having dared to “crush Mitt’s big moment” by, well, telling the truth.