Wednesday, October 17, 2012

did the rightwing media bubble bite romney in the ass?

i thought the most interesting part of last night's debate was in the bit about benghazi. for the last few weeks conservatives have been beating the benghazigate drums. several have even said the so-called scandal is "worse than watergate."

the problem is that outside the conservative media bubble, the scandals doesn't make all that much sense. first, it isn't clear why it matters that the administration initially attributed the attacks to the anti-muslim video that has been causing protests at around the same time. stories change when more facts come out, big deal. second, while the fact that the benghazi consulate didn't have enough security is important, there's no reason to believe that the president himself knew about that issue prior to the attack, and part of the reason that american diplomatic posts around the world are under-protected is because the GOP cut the state department's security budget (and paul ryan was behind those cuts). finally, as the president himself brought up during the debate and contrary to the republican's claims that the administration refused to refer to the incident as a terrorist attack for weeks, obama referred to it as an "act of terror" less than 24 hours after the incident.

it's that last point that made the exchange particularly interesting, because romney was apparently unaware of it. when obama correctly pointed out that he made that statement, romney thought he had a nice gotcha and jumped all over it. but the president was right, even the moderator knew that, so it blew up in mitt's face.

why didn't mitt know about the "act of terror" statement? i suspect he was a victim of the rightwing's media bubble. for all the hyperventilating about the benghazi incident, the rightwing's media did not bring up that part of the president's statement because it gave a potential counter-narrative to the one they were pushing. outside the bubble, it was discussed (i mentioned the "act of terror" comment last week), which is probably how cindy crowley was aware of it. but if you only get your news from the washington times, fox news, and right blogistan, that statement didn't exist.

until today, that is. all of a sudden the right is forced to confront that line because of what happened in the debate. and so we are seeing nonsensical attempts to parce "act of terror" to make it seem like that means something totally different from "terrorist act." none of this would have been necessary if romney had been aware of what the president actually said. the alternate reality constructed by the rightwing media isn't doing anyone any favors.