September 14th, 2014
12:43 PM ET

Web Exclusive: Former diplomat Daniel Benjamin says media outlets are "hyperventilating" over ISIS

In the above video, Daniel Benjamin, the State Department's most senior counterterrorism adviser during President Obama's first term, tells Brian Stelter that media outlets have been overstating the threat that ISIS poses to the U.S. homeland.

Benjamin was quoted in The New York Times this week saying that public discussion of the threat has been a "farce."

"I do think ISIS is a very serious challenge," Benjamin told Stelter. "But the public debate has really lost touch with reality."

"We've had a lot of people from Congress suggesting that there were plots in the offing that are completely unrealistic. We've had senators talking about bombs that will destroy whole cities, cities in flames. We’ve had governors talking about ISIS operatives streaming across the southern border. And we've had an awful lot in the media about simply preposterous plots about spraying Ebola all over transit systems, about cities being honeycombed with sleeper cells. And yet, at the same time, those senior-most officials in the government who deal with counterterrorism have said time and again there is no imminent threat."

With regards to media outlets, Benjamin said that "the argument that it’s not that titanic a threat is not really a great sell on the airwaves, so we've had competing talking heads who have been trying to top each other with outrageous scenarios. And I'm afraid that this is the way the market goes in reporting on terrorism all too often."

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