CBS News' "60 Minutes" selectively edited an interview with President Obama in 2012 to omit his comment that it was unclear whether an assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, was the pre-meditated work of terrorists, or a random uprising.
The president's uncertainty in that interview, conducted one day after the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack, stands in sharp contrast to when he stated indignantly during an Oct. 16 presidential debate that he saw the assault as an act of terror from the get-go.
Part of the CBS interview first aired on Sept. 23.
However, the network withheld specific portions of the president's sit-down from its original airdate. Instead of running Obama's remarks on the attack, CBS instead released small snippets of his comments throughout the final days of the 2012 election.
All in all, the full Benghazi exchange between the president and CBS' Steve Kroft wasn't made available to American voters in its entirety until Nov. 4, a full 54 days after the attacks, and just two days before the election.
Aided by an assist from CNN's Candy Crowley during the Oct. 16 presidential debate, Obama denied that his administration obscured the truth of the Benghazi attack from Americans by blaming an inflammatory video.
On Oct. 19, three days after that major debate moment, CBS released a previously unseen snippet from its "60 Minutes" interview that seemed to indicate Obama wasn't quite sure right away if terrorism was to blame. The clip revealed the following exchange:
KROFT: But there are reports that they were very heavily armed with grenades. That doesn't sound like your normal demonstration.
OBAMA: As I said, we're still investigating exactly what happened, I don't want to jump the gun on this. But you're right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.
So we're gonna make sure that our first priority is to get our folks out safe, make sure our embassies are secured around the world and then we are going to go after those folks who carried this out.
For reasons that CBS has never fully explained, it then released an additional clip on Nov. 4 revealing the Oct. 19 snippet had also been edited to omit certain remarks. That clip shed more doubt on what Obama said in the debate.
Here's what was held from the public until Nov. 4:
KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack. Do you believe that this was a terrorism attack?
OBAMA: Well it's too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.
KROFT: It's been described as a mob action, but there are reports that they were very heavily armed with grenades. Yhat doesn't sound like your normal demonstration.
Fox News' Bret Baier accused CBS in November 2012 of omitting "crucial" context from the interview.
"Right after getting out of the Rose Garden, where, according to the second debate and other accounts he definitively called the attack terrorism, Obama is asked point blank about not calling it terrorism. He blinks and does not push back," the Fox anchor wrote.
At the time, CBS defended its decision to withhold portions of the interview from airing on Sept. 23.
"We're proud of our Benghazi coverage, which from Libya to Washington has been the most comprehensive original reporting of any network," CBS News spokesperson Sonya McNair told Politico.
Former House Speaker and 2012 GOP candidate Newt Gingrich saw things differently.
"The thing that is most egregious about CBS is that they edited out the part of the interview that would have undermined him after the second debate," he told Politico. "The first question is why did they release it? Once they had decided not to air it, the decision to release it just before the election is weird.
"What was the decision process at CBS? The second question is, why didn't they decide to release it after the debate? They only released half of his remarks, which was explicitly misleading. This is part of the elite media's extraordinary protection of Barack Obama, and I think it's the most distorted journalism in modern times."
CBS never explained why it edited the interview, or why it later released the Benghazi remarks in installments.