CNN host Soledad O’Brien often clashes with her Republican guests– most recently Romney surrogate John Sununu, who once told her to put an Obama bumper sticker on her forehead. While the exchanges are typically lively and entertaining, O’Brien and her guest usually both keep their composure, even while engaging in a verbal sparring match.
On Monday, however, with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, O’Brien appeared genuinely irritated.
After O’Brien played a clip of former Bush adviser Matthew Dowd saying it’s possible that preliminary intelligence on the attack in Benghazi was faulty, like with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Giuliani appeared unimpressed.
“We’re going to blame this on Bush, too?” he remarked.
O’Brien responded with visible exasperation:
“You’ve got to stop putting words in my mouth, sir. Seriously, hang on– let me finish. Because every time I ask you a question — and let me finish my point — every time I ask you a question, you like to push back as if somehow the question that’s being posed to you is unfair. It’s not. I’m a journalist, you said some things. I’m trying to get accurate responses from you. You are welcome to answer. Go ahead.”
Giuliani moderated his tone at that point, responding calmly and directly, perhaps to avoid further escalation:
“OK, here’s the answer. It sounds to me like we’re trying to blame Benghazi on Bush. It’s absurd to blame Benghazi on Bush. All [President Obama] has to do is answer a simple question: Did he know about the consulate attacks that took place before September 11, 2012? There were two of them, one of which blew a hole in the embassy wall. Also, did he know the British consulate, which was basically next door, that they moved out because of the tremendous amount of risk to that consulate?
O’Brien responded that the point of Dowd’s remarks was that it can take years to get to the bottom of a crisis in the Middle East, whether it’s in Iraq or Libya. However, the Republican issue is not necessarily that the president didn’t have all the facts (though officials have confirmed that the White House knew what happened within 24 hours of the attack), but that the administration wove a fictional story about a YouTube video prompting deadly, spontaneous protests.
Here is video of the tense exchange, via Mediaite: