David Remnick of The New Yorker showed up on PBS’s Charlie Rose Monday night to discuss his long, mostly sympathetic profile of Barack Obama from the January 27 issue of the magazine. Near the end of the interview, Rose focused in on the president’s reported desire to be “big.” The host wondered, “[W]hat's his definition of 'big,' and does he believe in his deep recesses of his own mind that the chance of that has slipped away?”
Remnick replied that no, Obama does not think his chance of being “big” has slipped away. The editor then rattled off a laundry list of Obama achievements that might be considered hallmarks of a “big” – meaning “great” – president. Among them were these two gems: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Sharyl Attkisson touted 'Fast and Furious' whistleblower John Dodson as "a rare example, especially amid the Obama administration's war on leaks" during a segment on Monday's CBS This Morning. Attkisson, whose reporting on the arms trafficking scandal won CBS a Edward R. Murrow Award, spotlighted the ATF senior agent's new book on "the inside story of why he went public to expose the government's false denials about its gunwalking secrets."
The correspondent also pointed out how "there's still a court battle over the 'Fast and Furious' documents that President Obama is withholding from Congress under executive privilege". She also featured a clip from Dodson where he emphasized that this is an ongoing controversy that deserves more media attention: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Last week, NewsBusters reported that PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff failed to ask about the “Fast & Furious” Mexican gun-running scandal during an interview with B. Todd Jones, the new head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. But on Monday’s NewsHour, Woodruff played a previously unannounced Part Two of her taped interview with Jones, and this time she asked a question about “Fast & Furious.”
That’s not to say Woodruff suddenly turned into a hard-hitting journalist. In fact, she didn’t get to “Fast & Furious” until her very last question. Even then, she brought up the topic very gently: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
How could a network TV anchor interview the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and not ask about Obama’s “Fast & Furious” Mexican gun-running scandal? Ask PBS anchor Judy Woodruff.
On Thursday night, Woodruff interviewed newly confirmed ATF director B. Todd Jones and utterly failed to ask a scandal question. She began by lamenting the ATF is called a "neglected stepchild" of law enforcement, and “It's been pointed out your number of agents smaller than many city municipal police departments, sheriff's departments. How are you managing?” And then “But how strapped do you feel for resources?” This set up Woodruff’s NRA bashing:
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Sharyl Attkisson revealed a new debacle involving the smuggling of weapons into Mexico on the Obama administration's watch. Attkisson pointed out how "a grenade used in the murders of three Mexican police officers last week has been linked to an alleged arms trafficker that U.S. officials left on the street to operate long after they had evidence of his crimes."
The correspondent, whose reporting on the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal won CBS Evening News an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2012, also underlined that this blundered operation was "overseen by the same U.S. attorney and ATF office in Arizona that let suspects traffic thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels in the case 'Fast and Furious'". [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Earlier this month I teased Slate for trying to spin the government's partial shutdown so hard it lurched into satire – trying to start a pity party because some college women who are getting free money from the taxpayers might get their money late which might cause them to have trouble paying for their birth control.
Today I'm teasing Slate again over another bit of wild spin.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has put the kibosh on a book by whistleblower John Dodson not because he would disclose any sensitive, classified information but rather "because the agency says it would hurt morale," reported Washington Post staffer Sari Horwitz in Tuesday's paper in her 16-paragraph story, "ATF rejects 'Fast and Furious' book."
While clearly such a story is worthy of front-page coverage, editors shuffled it off to page A8. Among the stories on A1 today, the story least-worthy of front-page real estate was William Wan's "Apple for the teacher? In China, many think bigger." Wan's story focused on how bribery was crucial to procure slots at the better public schools in Communist China. An interesting story, but of less import to Americans than a federal agency quashing a book by a whistleblower.
[UPDATE: The networks ignored the interview on Monday evening.] CNN scored an exclusive interview with a "Fast and Furious" whistleblower on Tuesday morning, and New Day co-host Chris Cuomo was intent on letting his guest tell his story that the Obama administration did not want him to tell.
The guest, ATF agent John Dodson, wrote a book on the operation "Fast and Furious" but the government is blocking its publication. Cuomo's first question to Dodson prodded him to tell his story: "What do you want people to know about the operation? What it was supposed to be and how it went wrong? What's your message?" [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On Wednesday at CBSnews.com, Sharyl Attkisson reported that "Three more weapons from Fast and Furious have turned up at crime scenes in Mexico."
A Google News search at 10 a.m. on ["Fast and Furious" guns] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets, past 7 days, sorted by date, with duplicates) returned 26 relevant items. Very few (to be noted later) are from establishment press outlets.
At Bloomberg Views, Al Hunt, formerly "the executive editor of Bloomberg News, directing coverage of the Washington bureau," referred to the controversies swirling around the White House as "faux scandals" and insisted that ... wait for it ... the Obama administration "is the most scandal-free administration in recent memory." No wonder Bloomberg News developed into such a hopelessly biased outfit while he was there. As much as I could stand to excerpt from Hunt's harangue follows the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
When a reporter makes an assertion about someone else's beliefs or motivations, he or she is supposed to offer something up as evidence, say a direct quote, something that person has written, or even something someone else close to him or her has said.
Politico's Josh Gerstein offered nothing of the sort in his coverage of Eric Holder's "you can't touch me" attitude, though he provides plenty of evidence to support my characterization of Holder's outlook. Gerstein, without a shred of support, wrote the following in describing what he believes Republicans and conservatives are trying to accomplish in pursuing the myriad scandals in the Obama administration which have burst forth during the past two weeks, along with others, including but not limited to Operation Fast and Furious, which occurred during the Obama administration's first term (bolds are mine throughout this post):
It has only been a week since the Associated Press learned that its reporters' privacy and the confidentiality of their relationships with sources were violated on a massive and unprecedented scale by Eric Holder's Justice Department in April and May of last year. DOJ has admitted that it secretly obtained the call records for 20 personal and business lines used by over 100 AP reporters and editors. Despite its insistence that they were looking for the person who leaked information about a foiled terrorist plot, there is reason to believe the DOJ's fishing expedition was a childish response to the wire service's refusal to let the government crow about the foiled operation before anyone reported on it.
In the wake of all of this, the AP, appears determined to soldier on as the wire service more appropriately described as the Administration's Press. That's about the only way one can view the Saturday afternoon dispatch from the AP's David Espo and its accompanying headline:
Some in the media have reported on the Obama administration reneging on its promise to be transparent and open. The president’s drone policy is a testament to its commitment to secrecy. The creation of a secret kill list is also another instance where Obama has betrayed a campaign promise to his liberal base. So, why aren’t watchdog groups vociferously protesting the president’s 180-degree flip on this position?
Paul Thacker wrote on the left-leaning Slate website yesterday that Obama is no different from Bush in stonewalling FOIA requests, and skirting civil liberties – but gets away with it because of his party affiliation:
Today's Washington Post editorial clings to the liberal anti-gun rights view that only the government should have access to "military weapons," by which of course they mean semiautomatic "assault rifles" like the AR-15. Of course, government corruption and incompetence has long been an avenue by which criminals have obtained weapons, the Fast & Furious gunrunning scandal being an instructive case in point.
But alas, the drug-running scandal was curious missing from the January 11 editorial in which the Post argued that in addition to an assault weapons ban, the U.S. government needs to crack down on international gun-smuggling, particularly on the Mexican border:
As of 2 PM ET, various searches at the national web site of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press (on "furious"; on "Univision"), Reuters ("furious"; "fast and furious"; "univision"), and United Press International ("furious"; "Univision") indicate that the three wire services have given no coverage to reports from Univision exposing the wider geographic scope and far more fatal fallout of the deliberately untrackable guns-to-cartels operation known as Fast and Furious.
I wonder how the leading U.S. Spanish network's broadcasters and audience feel about getting the same treatment the establishment press gives center-right blogs? (A lengthy yet partial transcript of Univision's broadcast with details which will shock all but those who have immersed themselves in the evolving scandal follows the jump.)
In their continuing push to rig the election for Barack Obama, none of the three broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, or NBC – devoted a single second of coverage to Univision’s politically devastating investigative report about the Obama Administration’s lethal gunwalking scandal, Fast and Furious.
Media Research President Brent Bozell reacted: "“This is another example of the media deliberately rigging this election. The Obama Administration provided guns to Mexican drug cartels, and the networks have the gall to ignore it. ABC, CBS and NBC have absolutely no excuse for spiking this explosive report, and are clearly doing so because it will damage Obama’s chances of re-election. Americans shouldn’t have to learn a second language to receive real investigative reporting."
The three networks devoted less than seven minutes to a "blistering" new report from the Justice Department on the Fast and Furious scandal. In comparison, the same programs deluged the public with coverage of Mitt Romney's "secret" tax tape, hyping it for 88 minutes.
From Wednesday night through Friday morning, World News, the NBC Nightly News, CBS This Morning,Good Morning America, Today and CBS This Morning allowed just six minutes and 40 seconds. In a brief report on Wednesday, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams called the gun running story a "rallying point" for Republicans and explained, "Tonight, a blistering report lays out the blame for what happened there." Yet, NBC has, thus far, only given the latest details one minute and 40 seconds.
NBC, which shamefully ignored the "Fast and Furious" controversy for months, failed to cover on their newscasts Monday evening and Tuesday morning the FBI offering a combined $1 million reward for the capture of four suspects in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
ABC devoted a full report to the FBI reward on Monday's World News, but omitted mentioning Attorney General Eric Holder's part in the controversy. On Tuesday, ABC's GMA and CBS This Morning both devoted news briefs to the new development in the Terry case, but like World News, the two programs didn't mention Holder's name in their stories. Anchor Diane Sawyer introduced correspondent Pierre Thomas's report on the reward, and got a detail wrong out of the gate:
Time magazine demonstrated in its last issue that it was so overwhelmingly thrilled with John Roberts upholding ObamaCare that it put Roberts on the cover with the title “Roberts Rules,” touting his “landmark decision.” Inside, the magazine gave the ruling 15-plus pages of coverage.
By contrast, the Congress voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to deliver documents on the “Fast & Furious” program drew two dismissive paragraphs – one less paragraph than Time editor Richard Stengel took to boost Roberts as a chip off the old block of “John Marshall, the greatest of all Chief Justices” in an Editor’s Note:
On Friday's NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer didn't just lob a softball to Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod about Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt of Congress, he placed the ball on a tee and helped Axelrod swing the bat: "Paraphrasing here, Mr. Holder said the American people deserve better. What is the President's reaction to the actions in Congress?"
Axelrod happily spewed White House talking points on the Thursday vote that held Holder in contempt for failing to release documents regarding the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal: "I think it was an embarrassment to the Congress....They're getting their questions answered, they wanted the confrontation, they wanted the political theater. They ought to be getting to work on the problems that are significant to the American people."
Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) broke party lines on Tuesday and announced that he will vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Matheson is the first Democrat to come out and publicly condemn Holder. Neither ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's This Morning, nor NBC's Today noted the development today.
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory led the show's panelists in dismissing the House Government Oversight Committee holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal as a mere political "distraction" created by Republicans. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The committee's chairman, California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, was also on the panel and interrogated by Gregory: "If you got everything you wanted, what do you think it would prove?....What would you be able to prove? I mean what the White House is saying is this is a fishing expedition, it's to score political points, it's all theater. What can you prove if you get everything you want?"
Unintentionally defining irony, in the midst of trying to rationalize news media disinterest in the “Fast & Furious” scandal by maintaining “it’s not a political scandal” but “a scandal of government,” Washington Post columnist and former reporter Dana Milbank claimed on CNN's Reliable Sources: “It’s not an ideological thing. I think the media would love to have an Obama scandal to cover.”
Trying to quickly move past the Obama administration's Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, Thursday's ABC and CBS evening newscasts dropped the story completely while NBC's Nightly News only followed up with a scant 30 seconds of coverage.
That 30 seconds on NBC consisted of anchor Brian Williams noting, "Fallout today in that fight between congressional Republicans and Attorney General Eric Holder," and explaining: "Speaker John Boehner signaled his backing for the action and hinted that the White House's use of executive privilege might involve some sort of a coverup."
Following President Obama’s decision to use executive privilege to shield Attorney General Eric Holder from turning over documents to Congress, the mainstream media can no longer continue its media blackout of the Fast and Furious scandal.
Asserting executive privilege "has several immediate effects" upon the public's awareness of a scandal the media have heretofore largely ignored, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer observed on the Wednesday edition of Fox News Channel's Special Report.
Steve Kornacki, who will debut as a new MSNBC host on Monday, appeared on Hardball, Thursday, to smear conservative opposition to Eric Holder and Barack Obama as racist. Asked why some on the right oppose the attorney general, Kornacki derided the "caricature of Obama" as a "secret black radical" who is trying to "take away rights or...money from, you know, from white people."
Kornacki saw an "aspect of race and culture" to the conservative disdain. In a discussion of the Fast and Furious scandal, Kornacki simplified, "...You take, you know, prominent, you know, black lawyer and you put him in charge of the Obama Justice Department and I think that's, to you know, to people who sort of traffic in that sort of thing, you know, it really is kind of a lightening rod." [UPDATED with video below. MP3 audio here.]
It appears as though CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien has joined the ranks in +the liberal media who argue that the GOP is engaging in a political witch hunt over the lethal Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal. During an interview with Sen. Chuck Grassley this morning, Soledad pressed the Iowa Republican about GOP congressmen's motives behind the contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder.
O'Brien hyped Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings's charge that the the House GOP's vote for the contempt charge was purely partisan politics. O'Brien agreed, noting the partisan breakdown of the contempt vote. [Video coming soon. MP3 audio here.]
Leading off Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams could barely conceal his contempt for Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt by the House Government Oversight Committee: "Washington has blown up into a caustic partisan fight....And for those not following the complexities of all of it, it just looks like more of our broken politics and vicious fights now out in the open."
NBC News should be included in the category of "those not following the complexities of all of it" when it comes to covering the Fast and Furious gun running scandal at the heart of the contempt charge. Wednesday night marked the first full story the network offered on the subject, having completely ignored the controversy until June 12, with a 30-second mention of the failed operation at the end of a report.
ABC and NBC's morning shows on Thursday actually noticed something interesting was happening with the Fast and Furious scandal. Both networks covered the vote by a House committee to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. However, Good Morning America and Today spent more time focusing on a heat wave hitting the east coast than they did the controversy involving a murdered border agent.
Good Morning America allowed a scant minute and 21 seconds for Fast and Furious, but that was only after first touting, for two minutes and 49 seconds, warm weather in the summer. NBC's Today featured a single report on the swirling controversy (one minute, 58 seconds), but only following two minutes and seven seconds on people sweating. News reader Natalie Morales highlighted the congressional action as partisan: "...A Republican-lead House panel voted along party lines to cite [Holder] for contempt of Congress."
Now that the White House has claimed executive privilege over a large number of documents, what happens next? Dick Cheney's former lawyer, Shannen Coffin, takes a look at the assertion and its likelihood of standing up in court should the House of Representatives sue to enforce a contempt citation: