The House panel looking to get to the bottom of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was instead confronted Wednesday with officials walking a fine line, as they delivered the State Department’s nuanced position on how the initial narrative of events — resulting in the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans — was so off-point.

Administration officials have already acknowledged that initial claims the attack was a spontaneous reaction to protests over an anti-Islam film were wrong, and that the strike was a coordinated act of terror.

But the explanation for why the incorrect narrative made its way to the public in the first place was proving difficult for lawmakers to follow, as they repeatedly pressed witnesses during a hearing Wednesday to explain what, by any objective measure, was a confusing account.

A State Department official had claimed Tuesday that the film link was “not our conclusion.”

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