Professor Jacobson has already offered a critique of the investigative story by  the New York Times regarding the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

Other critiques have rolled in as well:

Fifteen months after the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, the narrative of the attack continues to be shaped, and reshaped, by politicians and the press.

But a New York Times report published over the weekend has angered sources who were on the ground that night. Those sources, who continue to face threats of losing their jobs, sharply challenged the Times’ findings that there was no involvement from Al Qaeda or any other international terror group and that an anti-Islam film played a role in inciting the initial wave of attacks.

“It was a coordinated attack. It is completely false to say anything else. … It is completely a lie,” one witness to the attack told Fox News.

Since then, The Times has doubled down in support of its investigation and its conclusions with an editorial and an editor’s note written by the paper’s editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal.

I’d like to add three more general observations:

  1. Would the New York Times have done an investigation if the facts of the case didn’t contradict a deeply held conviction of the paper’s editors? For example, an article this past September asserted, “In 2000, a visit by Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s opposition leader, accompanied by 1,000 police officers, prompted a violent outbreak and, many argue, set off the second intifada.” Others have, in fact, shown that the decision to the launch the second intifada was made by Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority well in advance of Sharon’s walk on the Temple Mount. Earlier this year Jonathan D. Halevi mapped out the planning of the second intifada.
  2. If the New York Times was serious about revisiting the Benghazi attack it would have assigned former marine, C. J. Chivers to the case. David Kirkpatrick has demonstrated that politics comes first in his reporting. As Prof. Jacobson noted, he was invested in confirming the role that the film “Innocence of Muslims” played in inciting the attack. Someone not associated to the administration’s narrative should have been assigned.
  3. Finally in 2008, the New York Times ran a despicable expose implying that likely Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain had had an affair with an attractive younger lobbyist. The problem, as the public editor of the paper, Clark Hoyt, noted at the time was “A newspaper cannot begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did. And if a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual affair, whether editors think that is the central point or not, it owes readers more proof than The Times was able to provide.” The editor who oversaw the production of the McCain hit piece and who defended the work against Hoyt’s criticism, was Jill Abramson. This journalistic faux pas did not hurt Abramson in any discernible way as she was subsequently promoted to be executive editor of the paper. Rosenthal, in his column, argues that he hasn’t made up his mind who he will endorse in three years time. That may be the case, but as one of the most prominent Democrats in the country, Sen. Clinton must be considered a pretty certain Democratic candidate. Abramson, as her experience demonstrates, knows how to push a story to help her preferred candidate.

If the New York Times was sold on its investigation it would let it stand on its own merits instead of arguing that only Republicans would doubt their narrative.

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