Did the Washington Post Shit the Benghazi Bed Twice?

The Washington Post originally reported that nearly 150 FBI agents were investigating Hillary Clinton's email account and that certainly would have been extraordinary if it were true.

The Post issued a correction the following day and said the number of agents on the case is actually closer to 50 or about one third of their original report, but NBC now says the number is closer to 12, not 50.

"There are currently about 12 FBI agents working full-time on the case," says the source, who would only speak anonymously about an open investigation. [...]

"147 was such a ridiculous number," said the source, adding that 50 also sounded unrealistic for this kind of inquiry. "You need an act of terrorism to get 50 agents working on something," said the former FBI official.

Both the Washington Post and NBC News have relied on anonymous sources for their reports so it's hard to say who's right. Personally, I find the NBC report to be more believable. Devoting 50 agents to investigating an email account would be an extraordinary waste of resources. Assigning that many agents to a case like this would probably spark committee hearings of its own if Republicans weren't so politically invested in the witch hunt.

We may never know who these anonymous sources are, but I suspect the source who originally told the Washington Post that nearly 150 agents were working the case was someone sitting on or close to the Select Benghazi Committee. This would hardly be the first time a leak from the Bullshit Committee turned out to be a lie.

Come to think of it, I can't recall a single time when a leak from the committee turned out to be true.

  • Aynwrong

    This of course won’t get half the attention of the original “reporting.” And not just because conservative media would ignore it. The beltway media and cable news aren’t going to start hyperventilating over a mistake regarding a story they have flogged relentlessly and seemingly never accurately assessed and reported even once.

    The wrong headline gets shotgunned all over the place and the correction gets whispered. It’s depressing how typical that is.

  • muselet

    I’m guessing the anonymous source got the number 147 by adding up every single FBI agent who ever had anything to do with the investigation, including supervisors, the guy who manned the phones one weekend and everyone who chatted about the investigation in the hallways. Then multiplying by three.

    At the very least, this is an argument for—as I’ve advocated several times before—burning an anonymous source who’s proven to be lying. Working out what constitutes lying (for the purposes of creating a policy about cases like this, anyway) wouldn’t be the work of a moment, but one would think news organizations would tire of being made to look foolish by partisan hacks.

    It should also remind reporters that, if a story involves numbers larger than 20 (21, if male), ask Janice in Accounting if those numbers make sense. (And, while I’m on the subject, journalism schools should make numeracy an entrance requirement.)

    And it should remind the public that The Washington Post still has a hard-on for the Clintons. Every Clinton story coming from the Post should be read skeptically.


  • mnpollio

    Do news organizations not have editors and fact checkers anymore? I just recently watched Spotlight, the amazing film documenting the real reporters who uncovered Catholic Church pedophile scandal and cover-up, and was stunned at how little most news organizations resemble this anymore. They are now, as a rule, almost psychotically incurious, completely cavalier with the facts, fill their stories with almost non-stop dubiously supported speculation and often the finished product is mind-numbingly wrong, yet they pay no price for this as a rule – especially if you are a conservative media darling. The Washington Post has been in the trash for far too long and the New York Times is not much better – and let’s not even get into the Sunday morning pundit shows with its revolving door of conservative shills who get to air the most egregious lies without any “journalist” calling them out on it. I avoid mentioning Fox, because I think it would be irresponsible to even pretend it is a news channel.

    • JMAshby

      If i recall correctly, the Washington Post fired their ombudsman 2 years ago and, as far as I know, they never hired another one.

      That said, they have plenty of editors. In fact, one their editors hyped the bogus numbers himself. They have a fact checker too, but half the time he gets it wrong.

      I can think of a few editors across the web who are serially fucking wrong almost every day, including supposedly liberal editors, but they’re getting paid six figures to be wrong. That doesn’t leave a lot of money for people who do actual reporting or work.

      • Axomamma

        You have to admit, the ombudsman didn’t do anything anyway.

        What I’m not understanding is, why is HRC’s email continues to be a thing at all? Given the amount of time that’s gone by and all the emails that have been released, with no smoking gun, or even a piece of burnt toast, this doesn’t seem to be anything but grist for the Clinton Haters Club to chew on.