Obama administration officials held a "deep background" briefing with reporters Friday to discuss a report that the White House and State Department scrubbed any reference to terrorism from its talking points about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Many members of the daily White House press corps were excluded from the closed-door briefing, and administration officials continue to delay the official daily briefing to accommodate the private, invitation-only chat. Originally scheduled for 12:30 p.m., the briefing was moved to 1:45 and then 3:15.
If and when it occurs, the briefing is likely to be a thorny one for White House press secretary Jay Carney. ABC News reported Friday that White House and State Department officials edited extensively 12 different versions of talking points about the Benghazi terrorist strike.
For months, the White House has claimed the intelligence community was responsible for the talking points — and that any edits they made were just “stylistic.” Immediately after the attacks, the White House attributed the violence to an anti-Islam YouTube video rather than a terrorist group.
According to the ABC report, State Department officials asked that references to the al Qaeda-connected group Ansar al-Sharia be removed, as well as CIA warnings about terrorist threats in the area.
And the White House on Friday took heat for how they briefed reporters on the issue.
“Time Magazine reporter Jay Carney would have been the first person to object to how the WH is handling the press today,” Ari Fleischer, press secretary for President George W. Bush, said on Twitter.
Reporters fumed after being excluded from the briefing.
“Big mistake!!!!!! Reporters are not happy with this off-the-record briefing before the briefing with a handful of the press corps,” tweeted April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.
“What a joke,” added another White House press corps veteran, who said he was afraid to publicly vent because of worries he would be “excluded from future briefings.”