Bozell Column: Eric Holder Can't Read?

Liberal reporters always think that the liberal politicians they’re covering are the smartest people in the room. In fact, when they’re opposing something, they’re so smart that they don’t have to read the policy they’re discussing. They have a clairvoyant sense of how wrong it is.

Congressman Ted Poe of Texas exposed this liberal arrogance on May 13 at a House Judiciary Committee hearing. He was questioning Attorney General Eric Holder on the “controversial” (to the media, that is) Arizona immigration law. He asked an elementary question, although to liberals, it was shocking in its insolence: “Have you read the Arizona law?”

Holder’s response: “I have not had a chance. I grant that I have not read it.”

An incredulous Poe shot back that it wasn’t exactly a night’s worth of reading: “It's 10 pages. It's a lot shorter than the health care bill, which was 2,000 pages long. I'll give you my copy of it, if you would like to have a copy.”

How many times have we watched liberals ridicule those dim-witted conservatives who object to the latest “artistry” of Hollywood leftists or books churned out by Ivy League academic cranks without having watched or read the allegedly offensive product? But now that Holder is caught in the very same predicament, the lefties are church-silent. How can you make arrogant cracks about Dubya and Palin barely being able to read, but skip over this gaffe?

Holder’s admission came almost three weeks after the legislation passed and after all the media’s impending-fascism panic, replete with Katie Couric warning about how protesters were smearing refried-bean swastikas in Phoenix. Yet throughout this entire period, the Attorney General of the United States could not be bothered to read what amounts to a long memo. 

In fact, four days before this embarrassing episode, Holder sat for two network Sunday shows, with ABC’s Jake Tapper and NBC’s David Gregory, and neither asked if he’d printed out and read the Arizona law. But can you blame them? Do reporters ask Jeff Gordon before Daytona if he put gas in the tank?

Tapper did throw a fast pitch: “You've said we're a nation of cowards because we don't talk freely and openly about race. So in that spirit, let me give it a shot. Do you think the Arizona immigration law is racist?” Holder answered that he didn’t believe Arizona was “racist in its motivation” – but perhaps in the “slippery slope” of its enforcement. This is an easy conclusion to reach when you don’t bother to study the issue or read the bill. 

And the liberal media who are vehemently supportive of Holder’s ideological persuasion are equally uninterested in Holder’s laziness.

ABC, CBS, and NBC all skipped Holder’s admission, just like NPR and the NewsHour on PBS. The newspapers “of record” were AWOL – the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times all passed, and so did the Associated Press. Time and Newsweek didn’t find space – even on their snarky “quotes of the week” pages.

It was hardly shocking that MSNBC offered no sign of coverage in the transcripts they throw into the Nexis database – from Schultz to Matthews to Maddow to Olbermann. CNN almost completely ignored it as they repeatedly quoted Holder talking about his Times Square bomber investigation. There was one exception. John King checked the box by running the video clip on his show on May 14.

If it weren’t for Fox News and The Washington Times and talk radio and blogs, this embarrassing episode might have vanished into thin air. Once again, the so-called “prestige” media simply blacked out the news that they would dismiss as tiresome Republican talking points.

Wouldn’t the Bush White House have loved “news” outlets that dismissed the partisan talking points of their opponents! It’s so very easy to play the what-if-Team-Bush-did-it game. The liberal media would have found it much more plausible if this had happened in the last administration, and Rep. Poe had asked Bush attorney general Alberto Gonzales if he had read the Arizona law.

If Gonzales had admitted he hadn’t read it, the media would have made it page-one, top-of-newscast news, and don’t dare tell me I’m wrong. You know Jon Stewart and “Saturday Night Live” would have mocked it repeatedly. Why? Because it fit their narrative of Gonzales as a less-than-talented Bush crony with no political skills.

Holder has clearly demonstrated an across-the-board lack of political skills, from this ham-handed Arizona talk to his fiasco of an attempt at a trial for 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Muhammad blocks from Ground Zero. But the liberal media simply walk away from these facts, just as they’ve walked away from anything that might be politically harmful to the man they elected president.

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center