Driving into work this morning, since I’d finished my David Baldacci CIA hit-man thriller audiobook yesterday, I was listening to a radiology CME (continuing medical education) CD. These things are drier than the Mojave in July and more boring than the third day of an accountant’s convention, but they’re a necessary evil. The reviewer was talking about a study on the effectiveness of IPEM’s, which was elucidative in two regards. First off, I learned that IPEM’s are “Internet-based patient education materials” (who knew?). Secondly, and more to the point, the reviewer quoted statistics showing that the average American has a seventh-grade reading comprehension level. I couldn’t quite believe that such a shocking degree of illiteracy could be the norm, but the NAAL (National Assessment of Adult Literacy) study conducted by the US Department of Education in 1992 and 2003 confirms the finding. Only 15% of adult Americans read at what is considered a university undergraduate level (and sadly, I suspect that only a minority of university undergraduates fall into the 15%…)
So what, you may ask, does any of this have to do with Benghazi? It’s that the Behghazi incident is only a “scandal” because the very proficient and professional media manipulation mavens on the Right have declared it a scandal. Rush Limbaugh is outraged and Glenn Beck is apoplectic and FOX News runs banners every hour of every day like this one:
and this one:
and so forth. If you have the literacy level of a seventh-grader, and if you get all your information from FOX News and conservative radio, of course you will come to the conclusion that what occurred on 9/11/12 in Libya was a scandal and a cover-up and a conspiracy. Individuals who lack the critical analytic skills to digest and interpret complex issues involving significant amounts of reading over and above what you can read in those big red FOX boxes are apt to accept just about anything…even if the anything makes very little sense.
Yesterday the White House released 100 pages of emails relating to the post-Benghazi “talking points”. I’m not going to kid you and tell you I personally read the 100 pages, but John Dickerson of “Slate” did, and I’ve read all of his review and analysis. In summary, to paraphrase the President, there is no “there” there. There is no evidence that the Obama administration intervened in any way for the purpose of protecting political advantage. Mistakes made? Sure. Conspiracy? No witches here. Sorry.