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Benghazi Might Be Fox’s MH370, and This Morning Fox Went to Town

CNN has taken a lot of heat–and rightly so!–for its obsessive reporting on missing flight MH370, which has often come at the detriment of more pressing or substantive stories. But no less ridiculous is Fox News’ #Benghazi fixation, which was in full fever Wednesday morning as the network devoted three hours and thirty-eight minutes of continual coverage of a Benghazi congressional hearing.

Benghazi has long been Fox’s fallback, less a news story than a sort of epistemological wound that can never close simply because conservatives refuse to accept conclusions about the events of September 11, 2012 that don’t conform to their scandal-based narrative. There will always need to be another hearing, another report, another congressional inquiry–a skepticism that conveniently keeps Benghazi primed as an ever-regenerating focal point of viewer engagement.

Benghazi is Fox’s MH370.

So we come to this morning. Former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell testified before the House Intelligence Committee on the #Benghazi talking points that led to former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s statements on the Sunday shows, an occurrence that for conservatives has almost eclipsed the actual consulate attack in terms of severity. Fox covered the entire hearing live–all three-and-a-half hours’ worth–and implored anxious viewers to stream it online when they reluctantly broke for commercials. Six analysts were called upon to provide commentary, and during the whole broadcast the News Alert chyron blared in the corner, no less absurd than CNN’s “Breaking News” banner that MH370 still hasn’t been found.

This meant that when CNN and MSNBC broke in for live updates of the Supreme Court’s major decision striking down aggregate limits for campaign contributions — a “breaking” event by any news definition, and a decision actually quite conducive, both ideologically and practically, to conservatives — Fox was showing clips of Rice from a television appearance eighteen months ago. At the end of the first hour of testimony, the network broke in with a miserly twenty-one second update on the SCOTUS decision before returning to the hearing, which was proceeding at the same pace as all things congressional. That’s right: Fox was so fixated on Benghazi it actually missed a genuine, real-time conservative-friendly event.

It’s easy to see why lawmakers like Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) continually push Benghazi: Rogers has an upcoming radio show to prepare for; and Graham has a conservative primary to survive.

Fox has a less obvious but equally self-serving motive. The network has devoted a lot of its airtime over the past six months to the failure of Obamacare’s launch. That’s a story more difficult to inflate on the same week as the ACA’s 7.1 million enrollee milestone. Faced with a sudden void where its talking points should be, Fox probably thought a three-hour-plus Benghazi hearing a godsend.

Like CNN, Fox found its perfect story; like CNN, we should criticize Fox for choosing the perfect story over the right ones.

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