The Fox-News, right-wing radio propaganda bubble that has dominated American politics since the Clinton era imploded on Mitt Romney during last night’s debate, leaving him exposed as a liar and humiliated in front of as many as 65 million television viewers.
The topic was the timing of Pres. Obama’s labeling the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as “an act of terror.” After the president asserted he’d called the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, a terror act on the day following the attacks, it was clear from Romney’s comments and body language that he believed he was about to deliver the ultimate “gotcha” moment — perhaps even a coup de grâce that would end the Obama presidency then and there.
But Romney, his campaign and his debate preparers had failed to fact-check their own party’s propaganda. It has been gospel in right-wing media lately that it took two weeks for the president to call Benghazi a terror attack. But the president was right last night. He had, in fact, labeled the tragedy in Benghazi an act of terror on Sept. 12, the day after the attack:
PRES. OBAMA on Sept. 12: No act of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.
The moderator, CNN anchor Candy Crowley, who was in the White House Rose Garden when the president made his remarks on Sept. 12, also stepped in and corrected Romney.
To make the matter even worse for the Republican propaganda machine, the New York Times yesterday confirmed early reports that there was also a protest outside the Benghazi consulate over the anti-Muslim YouTube video that had sparked riots in Cairo and elsewhere on Sept. 11.
A mistake this egregious should disqualify Mitt Romney from the presidency, but, of course, it won’t. The right-wing bubble is already repairing itself and re-inflating, as is evidenced by reaction inside the bubble to Mitt’s mistake, which is to quibble over whether the president meant that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist act when he called it an “an act of terror.”
Here is a transcript of the exchange:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror. And I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime. And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.
And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the secretary of state, our U.N. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president. That’s not what I do as commander in chief.
MS. CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to reply just quickly to this, please.
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I — I certainly do. I certainly do. I — I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed.
MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you’re saying?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.
MR. ROMNEY: I — I — I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.
MS. CROWLEY: It — he did in fact, sir.
So let me — let me call it an act of terrorism — (inaudible) —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)
MS. CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
MR. ROMNEY: This — the administration — the administration — (applause) — indicated that this was a — a reaction to a — to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.
MS. CROWLEY: They did.
MR. ROMNEY: It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group and — and to suggest — am I incorrect in that regard? On Sunday the — your — your secretary or —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Candy —
MR. ROMNEY: Excuse me. The ambassador to the United Nations went on the Sunday television shows and — and spoke about how this was a spontaneous reaction.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Candy, I’m — I’m happy to —
MS. CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me — I —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m happy to have a longer conversation about foreign policy.
MS. CROWLEY: I know you — absolutely. But I want — I want to move you on.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: OK, I’m happy to do that too.
MS. CROWLEY: And also, people can go to the transcripts and —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I just want to make sure that —
MS. CROWLEY: — figure out what was said and when.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: — you know, all these wonderful folks are going to have a chance to get some — their questions answered.