NYT Whitewashes the Barrett Report

In an effort to continue the ongoing cover-up that the NYT admits the Clinton Justice Department (via Janet Reno) was responsible for, the results of the anticipated Barrett Report by an independent council David Barrett released this week are presented in a biased manner (just look at that headline) that differs from the paper’s overblown coverage of Tom DeLay’s laughable indictments by Ronnie Earl. Here are some background explanations by other media outlets and pundits besides the NYT.

Rather than explaining why the Clintons and former Administration officials were so reluctant to cooperate with the investigation (which ended up being the longest in history, at 10 years and $21 million taxpayer dollars), the paper instead chooses to ignore the fact that a panel of three judges “agreed to the public release of Mr. Barrett’s report but said the section with accusations about Clinton officials must be deleted.”

Call me crazy, but this looks, walks and quacks like a duck, and by duck, I mean cover-up. If the political parties were flipped, the NYT would be flipping as well. The mere fact that judges are ordering suggestive material damaging to members of Clinton Administration crimes redacted in the final investigation report is enough to raise serious questions (not at the NYT, of course).

Unfortunately, this is “Culture of Corruption” week, so the mainstream press is busy covering other things like every attack, bumper sticker slogan and bloviation that congressional Democrats make against Republicans. It is interesting to note that the subject of the investigation, former H.U.D. Secretary Henry Cisneros, was charged with 18 indictments and plead guilty to a misdemeanor – lying to investigators – and was later pardoned by President Clinton. In other words, the Clinton team didn’t fight it because they knew he was guilty of something. A trial would’ve brought all of this now-redacted material to the forefront.

The article is unwilling to cite the findings of the report or even the guilty plea of Cisneros as fact and instead chooses to portray them (and other facts) as “accusations.” However, when covering the Tom DeLay, the NYT was sure to get all of Ronnie Earl’s nonsense and every single one of DeLay’s political opponent’s two cents into its pages, without anything at all being proven or even tried in a court of law (what the Onion once referred to as “trial by media”).

The article points out at several points that former Attorney General Janet Reno had clamped down on the investigation, limiting it to the investigation of one tax year (which limited the investigation so much that it appears to have “killed” it). The NYT yawns. She also fostered an atmosphere of obstruction among administration officials under investigation, causing them to “grow resistant to referring issues to outside prosecutors…at the request of Mr. Reno.” So the Clinton Justice Department, aware that a lid was going to be blown off with the case, obstructed and limited the special prosecutor into such a narrow investigation that only 18 felony indictments could be brought against the subject. That seems rather…NIXONIAN of the Clinton Administration, no? Of course, you could theoretically indict a ham sandwich (and an indictment is not proof of guilt), but the NYT forgot that during the DeLay smearing (and in its coverage of Bob Ney’s situation, which I wrote on the other day).

To buttress the point that the paper appears to portray scandals in the parties differently, try these (through a Lexis search). A September 29 NYT article from last year covering the DeLay indictment characterized him negatively several times, calling him "a shrewd political force," "the Hammer," and noting that this "added to the litany of misconduct accusations centered on Republicans in Congress." Very balanced, indeed. A May 8 NYT column from last year by reporter Anne Kornblut (a supposed "objective" journalist) revealed the"Empire of Favors" that allies of Tom DeLay were indebtted to him for, suggesting that even his allies can't help him now. She wonders about the strong support that DeLay had recieved in spite of the partisan and legal attacks on him. The Barrett Report, on the other hand, is merely to be dismissed as out of hand, or laughable at best, right? 10 years, legal battles with Clinton officials and $21 million taxpayer dollars is merely an "accusation?" That is some accusation!

Today's piece tries to cloud the Barrett findings up, however, and includes every attack on the investigation that could possibly be inserted into such a piece, coupled with piecemeal rebuttals or responses. The NYT takes special care to note multiple times what Cisnero’s lawyers and other critics (nameless, faceless Justice Department officials) have said about the investigation, calling the it “an effort to ‘try’ the case that Mr. Barrett’s office could not win in court,” “deeply misguided,” “a scurrilous falsehood,” and the like. It is also bears repeating that this investigation yielded 18 felony indictments and a guilty plea of lying to investigators by the subject of the investigation – and this was the stalled, delayed, redacted version of the investigation. Compare this with the recent Fitzgerald / Plamegate investigation which landed a reporter in jail and one indictment against an administration official (for lying to investigators – not even the original “crime” alleged) who may have not even been the correct target.

This is classic New York Times distortion of information that could hurt its political allies. Stay tuned for a year of the pot-calling-the-kettle-black and more whitewashing.