NBC Reporters: Why is Obama Admin Backing Down on Targeting Press? 'Everyone Knows How Unpopular the Media Are'

In a stunning example of how desperate the liberal media are to defend President Obama against the numerous scandals rocking his administration, on her Friday MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell actually justified the Justice Department targeting journalists: "I think if they had framed it...as this is national security, these were leaks in really major cases, everyone knows how unpopular the media are, far more unpopular." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Mitchell further explained: "The American people have said in a number of polls how they feel about this. They feel that national security is more important than First Amendment freedoms. It was not framed very advantageously."

As if Mitchell bashing her own profession to make excuses for the Obama administration wasn't bad enough, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory decided to chime in: "[Attorney General Eric Holder] signed the affidavit and they went after James Rosen as a co-conspirator. And now he has remorse about it, reading about all this in the newspaper? I mean, I don't understand why he's folding on this, as a political matter."

Gregory briefly noted: "Not on the substance of it, I mean we're in the media, we obviously don't think that this ought to be happening."

However, the Sunday show host's passion was clearly in defense of Holder going after the media:

GREGORY: But as a leadership matter, it's striking to me that a progressive attorney general, who is nevertheless the attorney general, seems to be letting his, you know, political views affect his views about cracking down on this kind of crime. And I think that goes for the President as well. The President came out and said, "These are big crimes, that we cannot let this kind of information-"

MITCHELL: He offered no apology for it, initially.

GREGORY: Right, no apology. And now he's saying, "Well, we should review all this stuff." And now the Attorney General is saying, "Well, we should review – we should change all this stuff." I don't get it.

Mitchell observed that administration officials "realize now that they should revert to their past policies of notifying the media, negotiating a solution, giving the media time to fight a subpoena quietly, and negotiate how these stories get withheld or not."

In response, Gregory seemed to blame the GOP for the scandal: "So why didn't they do that? Is it because they were responding to Republican pressure? And is that – so that's what was going on here?" Mitchell declared: "Very good question, David Gregory."

Gregory wrapped up the discussion by whining: "My question is, would a Republican administration have done this? Would they have said to the press, 'Hey, sorry we did this, now let's talk about how we could not do it again.' I don't think they would."

In a recent interview with TV Newser, NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw argued that the press "has to be careful about having a glass jaw" when it comes to their First Amendment rights being violated.


Here is a transcript of the May 31 exchange:

1:06PM ET

(...)

ANDREA MITCHELL: And of course the other thing that people are talking about, especially those of us in the media who are very concerned about what the leak investigations have led to, are Eric Holder's meetings. Now today he met with the broadcast networks, but only ABC among the broadcast networks went because it was billed as an off-the-record meeting. NBC said that on this topic it would not conduct off-the-record meetings with the Attorney General.

The Washington Post did go to the print meeting yesterday. Any insight into what Eric Holder is trying to achieve here, Chris?

CHRIS CILLIZZA [WASHINGTON POST]: Well, Andrea, I wish, you know that's significantly above my pay grade in this – in this newsroom. But what – look, I think I can speak broadly about what he's trying to achieve. Which is the Department of Justice and the administration I think is well aware – whether or not they think they are within their legal sort of boundaries and what they've done as it relates to the AP and James Rosen and these leak investigations – that it has soured an already not-great relationship with the media. These sessions are an attempt to say – by Eric Holder and the DOJ staff – to say, "Look, this is why we did what we did, here were the stakes, we don't want these things reported."

Which is why they've put it in this sort of off-the-record context. You can characterize, I suppose, the tone. But you can't really talk about what went on there.

These are goodwill sessions, I think, Andrea. The question I have, is, and this isn't just about the Department of Justice, but is it too little, too late in terms of the what they've done versus what they say why they've done it?

MITCHELL: Well, I think if they had framed it, David and Chris, as this is national security, these were leaks in really major cases, everyone knows how unpopular the media are, far more unpopular. The American people have said in a number of polls how they feel about this. They feel that national security is more important than First Amendment freedoms. It was not framed very advantageously.

DAVID GREGORY: But this is a leadership issue. I mean this is the chief law enforcement official in the land, who said that this is a crime and that they are going to try to prevent these crimes. And he did what he did and he signed the affidavit and they went after James Rosen as a co-conspirator. And now he has remorse about it, reading about all this in the newspaper? I mean, I don't understand why he's folding on this, as a political matter. Not on the substance of it, I mean we're in the media, we obviously don't think that this ought to be happening. But as a leadership matter, it's striking to me that a progressive attorney general, who is nevertheless the attorney general, seems to be letting his, you know, political views affect his views about cracking down on this kind of crime. And I think that goes for the President as well. The President came out and said, "These are big crimes, that we cannot let this kind of information-"

MITCHELL: He offered no apology for it, initially.

GREGORY: Right, no apology. And now he's saying, "Well, we should review all this stuff." And now the Attorney General is saying, "Well, we should review – we should change all this stuff." I don't get it.

MITCHELL: Well, I think what it comes down to is that they realize now that they should revert to their past policies of notifying the media, negotiating a solution, giving the media time to fight a subpoena quietly, and negotiate how these stories get withheld or not.

GREGORY: So why didn't they do that? Is it because they were responding to Republican pressure? And is that – so that's what was going on here?

MITCHELL: Very good question, David Gregory.

GREGORY: I mean, I think these are the questions that are about Holder's leadership and ultimately go up to the President. It's not about the President interfering in the investigation. It's about, you know – my question is would a Republican administration have done this? Would they have said to the press, "Hey, sorry we did this, now let's talk about how we could not do it again." I don't think they would.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC