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Notes on the May 12, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

May 12, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsToday’s Meet the Press opened with Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) chair of the House committee re-investigating the September 11, 2012 attacks on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Issa opened with a dubious line, “Obviously this is an important issue to the American people,” and almost everything he said following that seems dubious. Host David Gregory tried to summarize the allegations Rep. Issa is putting forward. The congressman responded by saying, “David, we’re not making charges.”

To his credit, Gregory broke the sterile, lifeless format typical of Meet the Press’s opening segment by allowing an actual conversation to take place. While Gregory was interviewing Congressman Issa, the next guest, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, was sitting at the same table but not shown on camera. The plan was to talk to the men sequentially, not together. (I know. This is crazy, but that’s how Meet The Press does it.) The format broke down when Rep. Issa had finally said enough dubious things that Ambassador Pickering uttered the phrase, “That’s not true.”

At that point, the camera had to pull back to reveal that Ambassador Pickering had been sitting there the whole time. It was a weird moment, but it led to a real conversation.

(Note for readers who may be unaware, Ambassador Pickering, a career diplomat, may not be well-known outside Washington, DC, but he is almost universally considered one of the most credible, fair-minded people in the capital. He was chosen to lead the official investigation into the Benghazi attacks, an excellent choice.)

Ambassador Pickering then calmly walked through the findings of his report, answering all of the most serious questions Congressman Issa says he is investigating. The tension in the studio was apparent, even through the TV screen.

Later in the broadcast, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who acknowledged serious mistakes were made in Benghazi, said, “Every effort is being made to turn this into something diabolical, and I don’t see that.” Regarding Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) claim that Benghazi proves former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is unfit for higher office, Feinstein said, “That is nonsense.”

David Brooks of the New York Times had an interesting take on all of this. He reminded us that the attacked facility in Benghazi was actually run by the CIA. Brooks says the fight revealed in the relevant emails after the attack tells him that the CIA was trying to push blame from themselves onto the State Department. And the State Department pushed back. Hardly the Watergate level scandal alleged by some.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

Also follow the show on the MTP Facebook page, track Twitter feeds from host David Gregory, Meet The Press, and Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, watch the midweek PressPass interview, and don’t forget Gregory’s blog.

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