A close tie between two brothers – one the president of CBS News and the other the White House adviser who now is at the center of the Benghazi email scandal – wasn't discussed with viewers because top brass though it "wasn't relevant," according to a former reporter for the network.
Sharyl Attkisson, whose reporting on Benghazi over the last year led the pack, discussed the relationship between CBS News President David Rhodes and White House senior adviser Ben Rhodes in an interview with WMAL radio in Washington, D.C., the Washington Free Beacon reported.
White House emails released this week through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Ben Rhodes advised, immediately after the 2012 al-Qaida-linked attack on Americans in Benghazi, that the goal of having Ambassador Susan Rice respond to questions was to "underscore that these protests are rooted in and (sic) Internet video, and not a broader failure (of) policy."
That's despite testimony before Congress revealing that members of the U.S. military knew almost immediately that it was a coordinated terror attack by an al-Qaida-linked faction and had nothing to do with a crowd reaction to an obscure Internet video called "Innocence of Muslims."
The email indicates the administration was covering up the al-Qaida connection because Obama's re-election campaign depended on maintaining its foreign policy boasts that bin Laden was dead and al-Qaida was "on the run" under his watch.
WMAL's Brian Wilson asked Attkisson about the email from Ben Rhodes and whether or not when she worked for CBS there were orders to reporters to report fairly, regardless of the interests of the Rhodes brothers.
"That did not happen, to my knowledge. But, in a couple of stories when Ben Rhodes' name appeared or began to surface a long time ago, I argued that we needed to disclose the relationship because that's what we should to do," Attkisson said.
"Not because there's any guilt or guilt by association or that we had done anything wrong, but disclosure is your friend. It protects you. And as journalists, if we disclose that off the top of a story then people won't look back later and say that we hid it," she said.
"So I did argue the case and was told by a manager it was not necessary because it wasn't relevant. Which I disagreed with," said Attkisson.
She said that in another story, for the CBS News website, she did make the disclosure, "and Rhodes had no problem with it as far as I know; I didn't hear from him."
She pointed out that the story about the anti-Muslim video was coming from Hillary Clinton as early as Sept. 12, only hours after the attack.
Clinton, Attkisson said, "used the video story at the ceremonial return of the bodies, Stevens and the three other victims, and personally did not call it a terrorist attack and allegedly told the family members 'we're going to find who made that awful video' so by Sept. 12th, someone had already decided."
Noting that one of the goals of the White House "was to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video and not a broader failure of policy," Wilson asked if the Rhodes email is the smoking gun, showing the administration set out to mislead the American people.
Attkisson said the question is who wrote that section of the email that came from Rhodes.
"There may have been, and I would assume just based on experience, there was some sort of meeting at which these items were discussed so these points could be made," she said. "So, who is at the meeting, how is it discussed, and how is this disseminated not only to Susan Rice, but as you know, other administration officials used the same narrative almost word for word in some cases."
She said one would have to believe that there was a meeting and a distribution of the narrative to others.
"I’m not sure Ben Rhodes is ... the end game. He's someone who distributed the message, but there may have been, and I would say likely were others in the White House involved in coming up with this idea," she said.
Attkisson said that regardless of whether the White House came up with the idea, the responsibility lies with the Obama administration.
"I mean to me, it matters to some degree I guess who exactly did what. But the point is we now know the Obama administration officials in whatever agencies at the White House were responsible for creating this narrative that was incorrect for whatever reason," she said.
"Nitpicking" over which agency was responsible detracts from the main issue.
The CIA, she said, "did not say these things in their original talking points."
"They did not say there was a spontaneous protest, quite the opposite," she said.
At American Thinker, Ed Lasky said that for years he's wondered why Ben Rhodes had achieved such influence with Obama, because he had "a clear lack of qualification to serve any role in the upper reaches of government."
"Now we know it is not sycophancy alone that worked for him. Nor is it just the fact that his brother heads CBS News (which recently parted company with Sharyl Attkisson following her persistent investigative reporting on Benghazi). It goes beyond those factors: he will do his boss's bidding, hiding information, manipulating the facts, distract people: the truth and the American people be damned," he said.
"Undoubtedly he shared Hillary Clinton's view: What difference, at this point, does it make?"