Did the Dems walk? [With Comments by John]

We reported that, with two exceptions, the Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee walked out on Patricia Smith and Charles Woods, the mother and father respectively of two of the men who were killed by terrorists in Benghazi. The walkout supposedly occurred in connection with their testimony before the committee on Thursday. In fact, only two Democratic committee members (including execrable ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings) stuck around for the testimony, and the 15 other Democratic members were off pursuing other interests.

John wrote about the walkout here. I wrote about the walkout here. I even explained — I thought pretty persuasively — why the Democrats walked.

In reporting on the walkout, we relied on tweets by Chairman Darrell Issa and a post by Katie Pavlich, who also relied on Issa’s tweets. Accounts of the walkout appeared on Fox News and elsewhere on the Internet. With the two exceptions we noted, Democratic committee members did not stick around. But did a walkout take place?

Democrats have pushed back on reports of an alleged walkout. See, for example, this Slate post by Dave Weigel and this Media Matters summary. Weigel observes that only six of 24 committee Republicans stuck around for the testimony of the parents.

Linking to Weigel’s post, Pavlich has now added an update walking back her account of the alleged walkout in a circumlocutory fashion. At least that’s how I interpret her update. It appears to me that the reports of a walkout, including our own, were not mistaken, but (John may disagree with me and I do not purport to speak for him) they were inconclusive if not overblown. I would at the least like to draw readers’ attention to the additional information on offer in Weigel’s post and the Media Matters summary.

JOHN adds: I don’t find the Democrats’ self-exoneration particularly persuasive. It is true that Congressional committee hearings are chronically underattended by members of both parties, and in Issa’s photo is is obvious that the Republican side of the room is thinly populated, too. Still, there are quite a few more Republicans than Democrats present, some of them staffers. One thing we don’t know is how many Democrats and Republicans were there for the first part of the hearing, on the Accountability Review Board. Issa says that before the parents testified, Democrats “excused themselves” and “only two decided to stay.” That implies a walkout by at least some Democrats, and no one, to my knowledge, has rebutted Issa’s observation.

Is my perspective on this colored by the fact that Democrats have studiously ignored, when they have not slandered, critics of the administration’s performance on Benghazi, including parents of the slain Americans? Well, yes. As it should be.

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