CBS News White House reporter Major Garrett took the GOP to task last night.
On Friday, Republicans leaked what they said was a quote from Rhodes: "We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don't want to undermine the FBI investigation."
But it turns out that in the actual email, Rhodes did not mention the State Department.
It read: "We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation."
Republicans also provided what they said was a quote from an email written by State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland.
The Republican version quotes Nuland discussing, "The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency (CIA) about al-Qaeda's presence and activities of al-Qaeda."
The actual email from Nuland says: "The penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings."
The CIA agreed with the concerns raised by the State Department and revised the talking points to make them less specific than the CIA's original version, eliminating references to al Qaeda and affiliates and earlier security warnings. There is no evidence that the White House orchestrated the changes.
Keep in mind this never happens. This is Garrett putting his career on the line and becoming persona non grata among the GOP by specifically calling out Republicans as liars over this. Normally what you would see is "sources". But Garrett uses "Republicans" here several times.
Josh Marshall is also surprised.
Generally, once partisan, tendentious sources leak information that turns out to be wrong, nothing’s ever done about it. That’s for many reasons, some good or somewhat understandable, mostly bad. But on CBS Evening News tonight, Major Garrett did something I don’t feel like I’ve seen in a really long time or maybe ever on a network news cast. He basically said straight out: Republicans told us these were the quotes, that wasn’t true.
Kevin Drum goes a bit further:
So here's what happened. Republicans in Congress saw copies of these emails two months ago and did nothing with them. It was obvious that they showed little more than routine interagency haggling. Then, riding high after last week's Benghazi hearings, someone got the bright idea of leaking two isolated tidbits and mischaracterizing them in an effort to make the State Department look bad. Apparently they figured it was a twofer: they could stick a shiv into the belly of the White House and they could then badger them to release the entire email chain, knowing they never would.
But it was typical GOP overreach. To their surprise, the White House took Republicans up on their demand to make the entire email chain public, thus making it clear to the press that they had been burned. And now reporters are letting us all know who was behind it.
This is where things get really, really interesting. We'll see if the rest of the press picks up on this or not...