NEW YORK -– Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made big news Monday night by telling CNN that she accepts responsibility for security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, at the time of the deadly Sept. 11 attack.
For weeks, the Obama administration has been dogged by questions over its initial explanation for the attack -- that it was prompted by anger over an anti-Islam video on YouTube -- and over security at the compound prior to the assault which killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
"I take responsibility," Clinton said Monday during a trip in Peru. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."
While Clinton's statement was news to most of the world, it apparently wasn't to the Wall Street Journal.
On Monday night, the Journal's Monica Langley reported that Clinton made a similar comment to her in a recent interview. That comment had not previously been published.
"I take responsibility," Clinton told the Journal. "I'm the Secretary of State with 60,000-plus employees around the world. This is like a big family … It's painful, absolutely painful."
Clinton sat for an interview with the Journal last Wednesday and there was no embargo preventing the paper from publishing any part of it, a State Department spokesman told The Huffington Post
While the interview may have been conducted as part of an upcoming profile of Clinton, it's common for news organizations to extract timely material for a news story. Given that Clinton gave this interview on the same day as a congressional hearing on security at the consulate -- and as criticism over the administration's response gets amplified on the campaign trail -- it clearly had news value. Indeed, the Journal led Tuesday's print edition with the comment.
A Wall Street Journal spokeswoman declined to comment on the paper's newsgathering.
Coincidentally, the Journal decided to publish a portion of last week's Clinton interview Monday, the same evening the Journal's editorial board decided to criticize the secretary of state in an editorial in Tuesday's print edition for ducking questions on Benghazi. Traditionally, the editorial board does not collaborate with news reporting, but the timing is ironic nonetheless.
The Washington Post's Erik Wemple caught the Journal editorial shortly after it was posted and noted that it was tweaked after the CNN interview was published.
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