A Crisis Silenced by the Media: Benghazi

During the past week, PR Lab teams have explored crisis management and different tactics used in dealing with critcal situations.  We discussed BP and the perceived lack of concern from former CEO, Tony Hayward, the lack of a timeline for fixing the oil spill and how BP initially tried to deflect blame onto the drilling company involved.

We also covered the current Lance Armstrong issues.  After all the chatter, I came to the conclusion that in most cases, the best way to deal with a crisis situation is to be transparent and immediate.  In an article that takes a look at the truth behind Armstrong’s alleged lies and how he managed to get away with them for so long, the media who covered Armstong are identified as “enablers.”  Even if circumstances did seem suspicious or unlikely, Armstrong’s success still made for a great story, so the media promoted it.

This brings me to my blog post for the week.  In lieu of discussing these various crisis situations and how they are managed, I can’t help but think about the killings involving the U.S. ambassador in Libya and the events taking place in Benghazi.  Unfortunately, the media have chosen to sidestep coverage in light of the Nov.6 election.  I believe media in this case as well are “enablers” — that’s exactly what the media are doing and it’s not ok.

After multiple killings of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, following the murder of the ambassador for Libya on behalf of the U.S., there has been much speculation surrounding why this happened.  That’s the whole problem, President Obama and his administration have been anything but clear and transparent regarding the extensive information they possess surrounding these deaths.  More information continues to leak out regarding the situation, including the Libyan ambassador’s  journal filled with experiences leading up to his death, how he requested more security and was denied.  Now reports are emerging that other CIA guards witnessed the attacks near the consulate and were ordered to stand down.  Not only did they watch the attacks unfold, but they also communicated what they were seeing to Washington immediately… and nothing was done.

President Obama has done anything but clarify these attacks or what precautions were made with security.  Initially, it was said that a YouTube video angered those in Benghazi, causing them to attack U.S. diplomats who were stationed there, but the motivation did not stem from a YouTube video at all.  Perhaps many in the left-leaning media have decided to keep most of this information “quiet” until after the election, which makes it even worse because Americans deserve to know the truth behind these attacks, not to mention the devastated families of victims involved.

 When asked directly about the death of the Libyan ambassador during the second presidential debate, President Obama took “full responsibility” for the events that rolled out, but offered no real explanation.

Right before this debate, Hillary Clinton, Obama’s Secretary of State, claimed personal responsibility for the killings.  Many people speculated that Clinton was asked to “take the fall” for the sake of the President’s re-election.  Others, like myself, were completely confused as to how that situation falls onto one person’s shoulders.

Of course, Fox News has been anything but silent while trying to figure out exactly what happened in Benghazi and why.  As for other media outlets — except for CBS News —  it looks as though their “bias” will leave Americans in the dark until after Nov. 2.

Don’t wait until you are forced to disclose difficult information, but instead come forward with the information, allow people time to take the information in and eventually people will move past it under effective circumstances.

The main issue here from a PR standpoint is the complete disregard for transparency.  Since no one has been clear about these killings or why they happened, the first mistake of the Obama administration is allowing people to speculate and draw their own conclusions.


The full truth hasn’t been disclosed to the families of those lost in the attacks, let alone the American public.  Isn’t withholding essential information just as bad as lying?

New information that has been withheld in Washington up until now continues to leak out every few days and it’s not even coming directly from the president or his administration.  As more people come forward, especially those “behind” the Obama administration and it doesn’t come from the White House, the administration is going to have some real crisis management to deal with.

Regardless of any elections or events coming up, people deserve the truth along with their freedom.  There is absolutely no reason for all of the confusion, misleading, and blame deflection.  What ever happened to media’s role as the “watch dog” when it comes to keeping the government on its toes for the people?

Someone needs to step up and truly take responsibility for these situations.

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