Benghazi! Conservatives Hit Peak Distraction Meme In 2014

Conservatives are not shy about their pet scandals — whether there’s anything to them or not. Throughout 2014, Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits found ways to call attention to Benghazi and other “scandals” plaguing the Obama administration, no matter what the news of the day.

When the GOP wants to guide the media away from a new, shiny scandal and back to the most important scandal, they fall back on the distraction meme. Conservatives have employed this tactic by labeling any major news story, including entirely apolitical events like the World Cup, as distractions from the true matter at hand.

Benghazi: The scandal that won’t die

The most obvious scandal, perhaps due to its longevity and its relationship to Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, is Benghazi. Although the attack on an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya occurred in 2012, conservatives’ obsession with the aftermath is still going strong.

Michelle Obama’s solidarity with the #BringBackOurGirls movement after the kidnapping of Nigerian school girls by Boko Haram was quickly labeled a convenient distraction from Benghazi.

And Fox News hosts used the release of a May report on climate change to bring viewers’ attention back to Benghazi and the “multiple scandals swirling around the administration.”

Even news that authorities had captured the leader of the Benghazi attack was deemed a distraction from the Benghazi scandal. When the administration announced in June that U.S. Special Forces captured a militant accused of orchestrating the Benghazi attacked, multiple conservatives concluded that the announcement was merely an attempt to divert attention from the administration’s response to the attack.

Obamacare and #GruberGate: The scandal of the year

Perhaps 2014’s most popular scandal on the right was the implementation of Obamacare.

According to conservatives, Senate Democrats’ focus on the Koch brothers’ political influence and Obama’s emphasis on economic issues were both meant as distractions from issues with Obamacare.

Toward the end of the year, conservatives turned toward Jonathan Gruber and things he said at private events about the stupidity of the American voter, and the fact that they needed deception to pass Obamacare.

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), along with a few other conservatives, seemed convinced that Senate Democrats released a report on CIA torture in order to distract from Gruber.

Even conservatives get distracted

Some conservatives were temporarily distracted from Obamacare and Benghazi by shorter-lived scandals like the VA hospital waitlists and the border crisis.

According to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), the Obama administration created a whole new scandal by freeing Bowe Bergdahl to turn attention away from the Veterans Affairs scandal.

And multiple conservatives insisted that the media and President Obama focused on the missing Malaysian Airlines jet in order to distract from the border crisis in the U.S. (Former Sen. Scott Brown had trouble staying focused on the Ebola crisis when the Obama administration had so failed at keeping the border closed against ISIL.)

Distraction’s cousin

Sometimes conservatives use a cousin of the distraction meme to return America’s attention to the appropriate scandal. Crying distraction is part of a larger attempt to continuously focus attention on a particularly juicy issue the Obama administration is battling.

The best example of conservatives’ ability to tie any news event to their pet scandal is Benghazi, naturally.

Conservative pundits have managed to tie the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, the Ferguson protests, the debate over domestic violence in the NFL, and Ebola to the evergreen Benghazi scandal.

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