Media and Democrats: Making a Difference

March 29, 2022 Updated: March 29, 2022

Commentary

Hunter Biden’s laptop seems like a pretty trivial thing to be thinking or writing about in the shadow of war in Eastern Europe and possibly the wider world as well and economic turbulence at home.

One is reminded of Hillary Clinton’s memorable words during the congressional hearings into the murder by terrorists of four Americans, including the ambassador, at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012: “What difference at this point does it make?”

It’s worth remembering what she was talking about at the time. The “it” in that sentence referred to the question of the terrorists’ motives. Here is the immediately preceding sentence in her testimony: “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d go kill some Americans?”

Makes sense, right? In the face of the deplorable fact of four dead Americans, why should we care about the motivation of their dastardly attackers?

Such “looking backwards,” according to Clinton, who was the Secretary of State at the time of the murders and, according to some, bore a share of responsibility for them because of lax security at the consulate, was less important than looking ahead to prevent such things from happening in the future. The Clintons have always been big on “moving on.”

Those who blamed her, in part, for the killings immediately took her words as a weaselly attempt to avoid the responsibility that, they thought, was obviously hers, but this was unfair.

She was responding to a line of questioning from Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin not about whether she or the State Department were to blame for the murders but why Susan Rice, who was U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. at the time, went on the Sunday talk shows after the attack on the consulate to assert that it positively was “because of a protest”—over an anti-Islamic video made by an American—and therefore not the work of professional terrorists.

By the time of the hearings it was clear to everyone that Ambassador Rice had uttered an untruth in saying this, and Johnson was making the point that, even if she hadn’t known this when she said it, she could have found it out in a short time with a few phone calls.

Clinton’s firm resistance to this suggestion by ignoring it, as well as her characterization of the alternative to “protest” as an explanation for the murders—namely, “guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d go kill some Americans”—were equally indicative of her disingenuousness in answering, or rather not answering, his question.

Clintonian disingenuousness doesn’t always need an explanation, as it seems to come as naturally both to the Mrs. and to Mr. “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” But this instance has an explanation.

You will remember that the Benghazi attack took place at the height of the 2012 presidential election campaign. Rice was clearly in damage-control mode in promulgating the idea of a protest because of a video which, unlike a deliberate terrorist attack, could not have been foreseen by those responsible for the consulate’s security, including Clinton.

Moreover, the attempt to cast the responsibility onto the presumptively right-wing Islamophobe who made the video could be seen as more damaging to the Republicans and Mitt Romney, their presidential candidate, than President Barack Obama and his then Secretary of State.

Therefore, when Clinton said, “What difference at this point does it make?” she was referring to the fact that, by 2013, when the Benghazi hearings were held (“at this point”), the election had been won and so it was no longer necessary for her or Rice to defend the latter’s falsehood, whether it had been deliberate and politically motivated (as Johnson was implying) or not.

It was another version of the answer given by the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the charge of having lied, during the same election campaign, by suggesting that Romney had paid no taxes for 10 years: “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

Both answers are revealing of what has become even more obvious since, namely that any falsehood, any slander, any fabricated calumny uttered against their political “enemies” (as Clinton sometimes refers to Republicans) is justified if it helps them win elections.

Which brings us back, by a highly circuitous route, to Hunter Biden. Now even The New York Times admits, albeit only in the 24th paragraph of a story about the federal investigation of the younger Mr. Biden’s “tax affairs,” that the laptop and its alleged damning evidence of alleged Biden family corruption were genuine.

When the laptop was discovered, abandoned in a Delaware computer repair shop and brought to public attention by Rudy Giuliani and The New York Post in October 2020, the New York Times, in common with the rest of the media, ignored the story. Mention of the New York Post’s report was banned on social media. A total of 51 current or former intelligence and counter-terrorism officials issued a statement saying that the laptop story had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

When, in response to the New York Times’s authentication of the laptop, its Washington counterpart approached the infamous 51, who included Leon Panetta and John Brennan, former CIA directors under Democratic presidents, and James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, not one could be found willing to express regret for such a blatantly political exploitation of their offices and reputations.

Like their fellow Democrats, Clinton and the late Reid, they must have thought that, as Joe Biden had won the election with their help, “What difference at this point does it make?”

To all of them the implied answer, the object of the lie having been obtained by it, is none. None at all.

But the rest of us who are living in these new inflationary and war-ravaged times may be wondering if it wouldn’t have made a very considerable difference indeed if, absent their timely help and that of the media and the tech giants of Silicon Valley, Joe Biden were not the president today.

Quite a few Afghans and Ukrainians must be wondering the same thing.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James Bowman
James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” he is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for The New Criterion.