On December 29th Hillary Clinton sat down for an interview with the editorial board of The Conway Daily Sun. (I'm on the western border of New Hampshire, Conway is down the other end of the Kancamagus on the eastern border.) As you can see from the photograph at right, the occasion lacks the glamour of her sit-downs with court sycophants like George Stephanopoulos, but it did provide a glimpse of the kind of day Mrs Clinton would be having every single day if the US media were journalists rather than Hillary's palace guards. Tom McLaughlin is a member of the Sun's editorial board, and, unlike most of the bigshots at The New York Times, he knows the facts on Benghazi.
Just by way of background, three months ago, the latest crop of email releases from Hillary's secret server reveals that she knew even as the Benghazi attack was unfolding that it was terrorism and not, as I put it back in September 2012, a spontaneous class-action movie review. As I said to Hugh Hewitt in October:
She chose to politicize it from the moment it was happening, even as it was underway. In other words, in the afternoon of September 11th, when it was 9:00 in the evening in Benghazi, she was already politicizing it. And I think it was damaging that on September 12th, she told not only the President of Libya and the Prime Minister of Egypt, but also her own family members that it was a terrorist attack. And yet, there she was on September 14th at Andrews Air Force Base over the coffins of the dead lying to Tyrone Woods' family when she told them we're going to get that guy who made the video, and we're going to have him arrested and prosecuted... She tells the truth to the Government of Libya. She tells the truth to the Government of Egypt. But she lies to the people to whom she is meant to be a public servant, the American people...
At a critical moment on a critical date in American history, she opened her mouth and vomited forth a sewer of lies that everybody else is supposed to just try and swim their way through to find out the reality of what went on. And if you're a foreign government leader, you know the truth. If you're the American people, you get lied to.
Once you know the timeline of her communications with the Libyans, the Egyptians and with Chelsea Clinton, it becomes harder and harder to accept that the video distraction was anything other than a consciously constructed official lie.
Now listen to Tom McLaughlin at the Conway editorial meeting. He has the facts, and she has a lot of generalized evasions about the "fog of war":
Here's the transcript:
Turning to Hillary, I said, "You mentioned the families of the Benghazi victims and the discrepancy Mark brought up about your email â€” or conversation maybe â€” with your daughter..."
"Um-hmm," said Hillary.
"...about it being an al Qaida-like group, Ansar al Sharia. Then you told an Egyptian diplomat in a phone conversation that it was a planned attack and not a protest. Umm, but then, when the bodies were brought back, you spoke to the family members and you told them, they say that you told them, this was a spontaneous demonstration. And then George Stephanopolous asked on This Week: "Did you tell them it was about the film?"
"Um-hmm," she said. "And you said, 'No.' Now, somebody's lying..."
"Well first let me say," she interjected, but I pressed on.
"...Who is it?"
"Well, not me. That's all I can tell you," she continued. "But, you know, people were incredibly emotionally distraught...
That's one way of putting it. As Mr McLaughlin notes, three of the grieving families were so "incredibly emotionally distraught" they have specific recollections of Hillary telling them it was all about the video:
Tyrone Woods' father said â€” about you â€” that you said, 'We're going to have those people arrested who were responsible for the death of your son.' Sean Smith's mother reported, 'She [Hillary] said that it was because of the video.' And then Glenn Doherty's sister said that, "You chose to, in that moment, to basically perpetuate what you knew was untrue.' So, all three of them say you told them that."
"Well," she said.
I ignored her and continued, "And you say you didn't tell them that..."
"I did not tell them that, but, I can't recite for you everything that was in a conversation where people were sobbing..."
Hillary Clinton is now telling lies about her lies. Lies about why Americans died halfway round the planet. This would be crippling to any other presidential campaign, and yet it takes The Conway Daily Sun even to put the matter to her.
It is a great shame that Mrs Clinton does not encounter more interviewers like Tom McLaughlin. But then, at the rarefied levels far above Conway, New Hampshire, American journalism is not about ferreting out the truth but about knowing when to avert your gaze, draw a veil, and ask no questions.
So enjoy it while you can. After primary day next month, Mrs Clinton will be safely back in the soothing embrace of the Stephanopouloses.