Anyone over 40 will remember Joe Isuzu, the smarmy pitchman who, in a series of 1980s car commercials, lied his way into America’s heart. The Joe Isuzu character, played by David Leisure, was an ingenious creation of comic advertising—a pathological liar who somehow wound up as the spokesman for a major car company. Looking straight into the camera with dimwitted confidence and a greasy smile, he would make ludicrous claims (Isuzu trucks are “so inexpensive you can buy one with your spare change!”) that would hastily be qualified with clever subtitles (“if you have $6,189 in quarters”). It was all good fun: everyone knew Joe was lying; no one took him seriously.
Fast forward to 2014: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, once a respected journalist, has been morphing before our very eyes into “Jay Isuzu.” I refuse to call Carney a liar. But it’s clear that when he’s called upon to defend the indefensible, he stubbornly resists telling the truth. And with the White House press corps rediscovering some journalistic skepticism after years of credulous slumber, Carney is having to defend the indefensible with increasing frequency. The result isn’t pretty: Carney, like Joe Isuzu, is not being taken seriously.
Carney’s credibility hit a new low this week. Thanks to a lawsuit by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, the White House was forced to release documents that shed light on the Benghazi scandal. One was an email circulated among a White House team, including Carney, that was preparing then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to discuss the Benghazi attacks on the Sunday talk shows. According to the email, Rice should “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” And, of course, when Rice did appear on those talk shows, she infamously blamed an anti-Muslim internet video for a spontaneous protest in Benghazi.
That protest, according to Rice, got out of control, which led to the deaths of four Americans. As we would eventually learn from Fox News (along with the tiny number of mainstream reporters who weren’t busy yawning), there was no protest, spontaneous or otherwise, before the Benghazi attacks. CIA and State Department personnel in Libya knew that almost immediately, and had promptly reported it back to Washington.
The newly released documents seemed to confirm what should have long been obvious: The White House, in the midst of a reelection campaign, saw Benghazi as a public relations problem. The boast that Al Qaeda was “on the run” was important to the president’s campaign. They desperately wanted to avoid the impression that they had been caught off-guard — on a 9/11 anniversary, no less — by a successful attack from an Al Qaeda affiliate. It would have been harder to blame the administration for failing to anticipate that an obscure internet video would trigger a spontaneous protest that would get out of control. Who, after all, could have anticipated that? That scenario, of course, was untrue, which begs the question: Who was behind the administration’s insistence that the video was to blame? Carney has long maintained that the administration’s “blame the video” talking points were based on information supplied by the CIA. Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell, however, has debunked that. So who, as Greg Gutfeld has been asking incessantly, pushed the video? It appears now that the White House itself pushed the video, for political reasons.