The press overwhelmingly bought into the Obama administration’s version of events on the attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, according to a new study Friday by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, which tracks news reports.
CMPA analysts said press accounts framed the attack as a spontaneous protest — the Obama administration’s initial version of events — four times more often than they called it a terrorist assault, which was what Republicans and even some Democrats identified it as in the days right after Sept. 11.
Initial coverage also focused more on debates over free speech versus hate speech, rather than on security decisions at the embassy, the study found. The Obama administration’s initial explanation for the attack was that it was a mob protest against a video that mocked Islam’s prophet Mohammed. A mob in Cairo did attack the American Embassy that same night in protest of the video.
The study graded news stories based on their use of words and phrases that touched on themes such as free speech, security problems and terrorism.
“The Benghazi attack was depicted in terms related to a spontaneous protest (emphasized by the Obama administration) over four times as often as a planned attack (emphasized by Republicans) — 17% vs. 4% of the coverage, respectively,” the CMPA concluded.