The liberal Daily Beast columnist weighed-in Sunday on the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks. If there's a more sure-fire way to troll conservatives on their biggest obsession, we probably haven't heard it yet.
"This animates the right wing of the Republican Party and I would like to point out that Ambassador Stevens was not murdered," Clift said on the "McLaughlin Group," using air quotes around the word "murdered."
"He died of smoke inhalation in the safe room in that CIA installation."
Clift has been torched on the right for the comments. Pat Buchanan, who sat on the "McLaughlin Group" panel with Clift, said Tuesday he was "stunned cold" by the observation. Reports have indicated that Stevens did indeed die of asphyxiation from smoke, but Clift's contention doesn't seem to square with a common characterization of the other 9/11 attacks.
Is it fair to say that those who died of smoke inhalation in the Twin Towers were murdered?
When Newsmax's Steve Malzberg posed that question to Clift on Tuesday, she didn't give a clear answer. But the columnist said she had no interest in walking back her comments, telling Malzberg she's going to stick with what she said.
"I was taking issue with the sort of glib use of the word 'murdered' and I think, you know, dying of smoke inhalation in the safe room of a CIA outpost has a slightly different feeling," Clift told Malzberg. "My point is it was a very chaotic event. The CIA was involved, which is why there was a lot of confusion initially, and that all the questions that this special committee is raising have been asked and answered in previous investigations."
Malzberg later asked Clift how she would describe the ambassador's death.
"The way the word has been sort of tossed around, I think, leads a different image in people's minds," Clift said. "When you tell most people how the ambassador died, they appear not to have understood what happened."
Clift did not respond to TPM's request for comment.