One shouldn’t question the good faith of a news report merely because one disagrees with the report’s conclusions. But David Kirkpatrick’s revisionist Benghazi account in the New York Times invites doubt about his commitment to unbiased reporting about that tragic affair.
My doubts stem both from the reporting itself and from what a person whom Kirkpatrick interviewed told me. Let’s begin with the reporting.
Kirkpatrick centers his account on one suspected Benghazi terrorist who has no apparent ties to al Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization. That’s not objectionable in itself; light can be shed by focusing on a single key player.
But Kirkpatrick says he found no evidence of involvement in the attack by al Qaeda or other international terrorist group. The good faith of that claim depends on his diligence in searching for such evidence. As Tom Joscelyn has shown, Kirkpatrick appears willfully to have ignored key players who likely were involved in the Benghazi attack and who have documented ties with al Qaeda. Kirkpatrick’s cherry picking suggests bad faith.
Similarly, Kirkpatrick’s claim that the Benghazi attack “was fueled in large part by anger” at the video about Islam seems to rest primarily on what Libyans told him after the fact. These sources can’t entirely be discounted, of course. However, it is surely self-serving for Libyans, almost regardless of their persuasion, to blame the attack on external events, and especially anti-Islamism, rather than on the bloodthirsty extremism of the Libyan attackers themselves.
Kirkpatrick’s heavy reliance on self-serving comments by Libyans that also serve the purposes of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, etc, suggests that he had a story he wanted to write and was looking for confirmation of that story.
This suspicion was confirmed to me by one of the people Kirkpatrick interviewed. This person, probably as well informed about the Benghazi attack as any American, tells me that during the interview with Kirkpatrick (which occurred many months ago), it quickly became clear that he “had his conclusions and simply wanted me to confirm them, not refute them.” It also became clear, my source adds, that Kirkpatrick “was off the rails.”
Off the rails is bad enough. But off the rails for an ulterior motive is worse. Unfortunately, this may well be what we’re witnessing in the Times’ revisionist account of Benghazi.