NPR again defined the abuse of its taxpayer subsidy to promote the Obama administration on Thursday’s Morning Edition. Online, they began their report on Attorney General Eric Holder this way: “The nation's top law enforcement officer traveled to Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday to wrap his arms around a community in pain.”
On air, reporter Carrie Johnson began: “From the moment he walked into a soul food restaurant in Ferguson, the attorney general found friends.” There was absolutely zero difference between the way a Holder press aide would have promoted Holder’s visit and the NPR version. It was all super-cozy:
JOHNSON: A few minutes later another community leader appeared. Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson. He's been leading the response to the protests. Holder reached over and drew the captain in for a hug and a few words of encouragement.
HOLDER: You are the man.
CAPTAIN RON JOHNSON: We're trying to make it better, we're trying to make it better.
HOLDER: You are making it better.
CARRIE JOHNSON: Johnson said he'd been so busy trying to keep the peace that he forgot his 26th wedding anniversary.
HOLDER: You didn't forget, my brother?
RON JOHNSON: Yes, I did. She forgave me.
HOLDER: We'll write you a note, how about that?
CARRIE JOHNSON: With that, Johnson turned to leave Drake's Place restaurant and return to work. but not before the attorney general reminded him to get some rest. Outside the restaurant, the captain told reporters it will take time to heal the breach in the community.
RON JOHNSON: It's obvious that the community here does not feel that there's connection with them and law enforcement. So that has to change.
JOHNSON: And that was the main reason Eric Holder took some time on this heavily symbolic visit, to meet with students at Florissant Valley Community College in northern St. Louis. Students like Molyric Welch; she's a 27-year-old sophomore with three kids at home.
MOLYRIC WELCH: We just need some answers, some questions, some changes. And by him being here now, that's giving us inspiration. We will no longer be profiled because I have a hat to the back. No more profiling, no more war. We just want peace and that's all.
Johnson concluded: “Legal experts say the odds for a federal criminal prosecution of the officer who shot Brown remain long. Meaning, the attorney general's visit to Ferguson was more of a listening tour than a prelude to indictment.”
PS: This is hardly the first time Johnson has acted like a press assistant to Holder. In our book Collusion, Brent Bozell and I recalled that on Holder granted Johnson a rare interview on April 27, 2012, at a time when Holder had avoided TV interviews for years, no doubt to avoid having to answer for lying to Congress on the Fast and Furious scandal at DOJ.
NPR All Things Considered anchor Robert Siegel announced “a rare and personal glimpse of the man.” Johnson began by observing Holder walk quickly into the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she was granted the interview: “Eric Holder is looking back on the arc of his career. After nearly thirty years of government service, he’s achieved his highest goal.”
NPR listeners were supposed to get a thrill up their legs during rush hour because Holder was attorney general. “The attorney general lingered, wordless over footage of Mr. Clinton’s campaign speeches. He had more to say in front of an exhibit of the Little Rock Nine. They were black schoolchildren who tried to integrate Central High School here in 1957, only to be met by violent mobs and soldiers blocking the door.” Holder solemnly proclaimed: “These are the folks who make, you know, Barack Obama possible, Eric Holder possible.”
In the entire seven-minute, thirty-nine-second story, there was absolutely no mention of Fast and Furious. Holder proclaimed, “I serve a president who is among other things a great lawyer. And he spends a great deal of time, great deal of interest focused on the Justice Department, which is a good thing—most of the time.” But neither one of them could be blamed for fumbling Fast and Furious? Neither could be challenged to take ownership of what they launched?
There were more important matters to cover. Johnson wasted time ribbing Holder about the Justice Department suing Apple: “So you’re hoping you’re still on a first-name basis with the guy at the Apple store?” Holder replied they were still happy to see him.