13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of
Courtesy of Paramount

Mitchell Zuckoff, the author of the book on which Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is based, defended the security contractors’ account of what happened the night of Sept. 11, 2012, in the face of criticism from the CIA.

Much of the controversy over the movie is whether the six ex-military contractors assigned to guard a CIA annex in Benghazi were told to “stand down” by the CIA chief there, delaying calls to respond to a siege of the nearby diplomatic compound. Congressional committees have concluded there was no “stand down” order, and the CIA chief also denied it in an interview with the Washington Post.

But last week, on Variety’s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM, Zuckoff explained why he found the contractors’ story credible.

“It was very that these were not self aggrandizing guys, that these were not guys looking to embellish the record and claim things they didn’t do,” Zuckoff said. “These guys are some of the most credible people I have ever worked with.”

He added that in writing the 2014 book along with the contractors, “We have never heard anything from the CIA other than, ‘No that didn’t happen.’ These guys are putting their lives and their reputations on the line saying, ‘We were forced to wait. And the record shows it.'”

The movie is expected to gross about $19 million over the holiday weekend, doing better in red states than in more liberal ones. Paramount marketed the movie to conservative audiences, and premiered it in Dallas on Tuesday.

Conservative critics have pointed to the movie to attack Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, although she is not mentioned in the film. On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, she told host Jake Tapper that she was too busy campaigning to see it.

Listen below:

Bernie’s Bounce

Josh Ginsberg, CEO of ZignalLabs, talks about Bernie Sanders ability to outpace Hillary Clinton in mentions in social and mainstream media. On the Republican side, Donald Trump continues to dominate. Ginsberg also talks about what resonated during President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Listen below:

Sean Penn’s Adventure

Mary Murphy of USC Annenberg and political consultant Mathew Littman talk about the ethics of Sean Penn’s Rolling Stone interview with “El Chapo” Guzman. They also talk about the Oscar nominations and the Clinton campaign worries over Sanders.

Listen below:

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS.

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