Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

PunditFact fact-checks Rove's comparison of Christie-Benghazi coverage

It wasn't that long ago — just about two months — that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was smiling away questions from Sunday news hosts about his 2016 presidential prospects.

This week, those same hosts and their guests were debating Christie's presidential prospects in the wake of revelations that Christie aides engineered traffic problems near the George Washington Bridge as part of a political feud.

Pundits on Fox, NBC and ABC all made certain to point out that there was no direct link between Christie and the forced road closures. But emails from members of Christie's staff about the incident, including from a deputy chief of staff, could signal a problem with Christie's management style.

As former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum put it, "Personnel is policy."

Other Republicans, however, tried to change the script. Rudy Giuliani on This Week, Reince Priebus on Meet the Press, and Karl Rove on Fox News Sunday all wanted to talk less about Christie and more about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, attacked the media for its handling of coverage of the two events.

"The amount of attention paid this week to Chris Christie makes the coverage of Benghazi at the same time … pale in significance," Rove said on Fox.

Even allowing for a bit of rhetorical flourish, Rove is off in his contention.

Simple searches of the nation's top newspapers and TV outlets show that — at the least — the amount of coverage between the Christie story and Benghazi are similar.

Part of the difficulty in making a comparison is the different sequences of events. The story of Benghazi, and what really happened, has played out over more than a year. The Christie news is still relatively new.

According to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, a nonpartisan think tank, 43 percent of the country told pollsters they "closely followed" the attacks in Benghazi. That made it the eighth most followed news event, trailing continued coverage of the economy and the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the health care law. It was the only international event in the top 10. When news of the attacks on Benghazi broke, coverage was widespread, and it continued through congressional hearings. Moreover, a lot of the coverage questioned the administration's narrative and response to the attacks.

"The coverage of Benghazi was heavy, in part because Republicans made an issue of it," said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of media and politics at University of Mary Washington. "The coverage of the 'bridgegate,' if you raise it to the level of a '-gate' scandal, is a reflection of Christie's prominence in national politics."

Perhaps the outcome of the Benghazi reports didn't unearth the conspiracy conservatives alleged and hoped for. More is still likely to come out, and Republicans continue to keep it in the news. But to insinuate the mainstream media ignored the attacks while putting Christie through the ringer goes too far. We rate Rove's statement False.

Times staff writers Steve Contorno and Katie Sanders contributed to this story. Aaron Sharockman is the editor of PunditFact.com.

Comments
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18