CNN's "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter is giving Fox News the benefit of the doubt over its decision to cut away from Hillary Clinton's Benghazi hearing, but he questions if the network would have done so had things been going poorly for the Democratic presidential candidate.
Fox News, which aired nearly 1,100 segments on the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks in the 20 months after they happened and propagated them as a major scandal from Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, cut away from her 11-hour hearing at 5 p.m. and began airing its regularly scheduled talk show "The Five."
CNN and MSNBC continued to air Clinton's hearing, in which Republicans failed to unearth evidence that negligence on her part led to the death of four Americans in Libya during the 2012 terrorist attacks.
"I think two things were happening there, David," Stelter told guest and media critic David Zurawik. "I think number one, Fox always tends to cut out of news and go to its regularly scheduled programs because they rate really well. But number two, if Clinton had been on the ropes, if she had been struggling, Fox probably would have continued to show the hearing, don't you think?"
Zurawik backed up Stelter's analysis.
"I think that was a devastating thing for many people who wanted to see her taken down in that public forum ... Fox knew that," he said. "Now Fox's narrative is, 'Look, there was a lot of coverage, look at our ratings for primetime. You know they were twice as high as anyone else.' Fine. That's their narrative. But I think you're absolutely right in what you're saying."
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