Despite the devastating tornado that struck Oklahoma on Monday, ABC's Good Morning America still found time to devote several segments to stunningly superficial topics, including getting Botox injections at age 20 and Matt Damon's gay love scenes with Michael Douglas in a new movie. Additionally, the network morning show offered yet another segment to the tabloid details of the Jodi Arias criminal trial.
In total, this amounted to ten and 34 seconds for stories of minor importance. In contrast, the latest details on the growing Internal Revenue Service scandal warranted a mere 52 seconds. News reader Josh Elliott briefly explained that senior White House officials are now admitting "that the top White House lawyer, Kathy Ruemmler, knew about the investigation into the agency's targeting of conservative groups last month." Administration officials claim they did not inform the President.
Ever since he announced he was stepping down as Tonight Show host Jay Leno has seemingly been harder on Barack Obama. Well on Monday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno that trend continued as Leno featured a clip of schoolchildren peppering the President with the tough questions that the press should be hammering him with on a daily basis.
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):
MSNBC ads on liberal websites like Salon.com are pushing to increase interest and ratings in the badly named show "All In," when it could be titled "A Few In." Or, to quote Dana Carvey's George Bush, "Still Gaining Acceptance." The ad says “Click here to get to know Chris Hayes.” This takes you to the “All In With Chris Hayes” Facebook page.
What you get there is a great sense of just how energetically Hayes is trying to avoid the Obama scandals. Instead, the scandal is the alleged starvation of the public sector:
Well, it looks like I was right earlier this afternoon when I thought that the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, was among those holding off on reporting the Wall Street Journal's Sunday evening disclosure that Kathryn Ruemmler, the head of the Office of the White House Counsel, "learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups" was "nervous about the Journal’s report, waiting for administration apparatchiks to tell them what to say, or both."
It turns out that the AP, in an unbylined report, waited until Jay Carney told them what to say and then pretended that the Journal's Sunday story didn't exist (the time stamp seen at story as carried at the AP's national site at the time of this post was 2:51 p.m.; the graphic which follows is of the identical story at Yahoo News):
ABC, CBS, and NBC touted President Obama's Sunday commencement address at Morehouse College in Atlanta on their Sunday evening and Monday morning newscasts, devoting a total of five minutes and 14 seconds to the "powerful speech", as NBC's Tamron Hall labeled it on Monday's Today. On Monday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell gushed, "I think it's one of those speeches that will be looked at over the years."
Lester Holt played up the President's apparent "voice of experience" on Sunday's NBC Nightly News, and asserted that "the President is sharing in a way we rarely hear him."
UPDATED: [May 21; 5:15 p.m. EDT | see portion in brackets below the page break] || The liberal media continue their effort to spin the Obama administration right out of trouble. On Saturday’s Today, NBC brought on John Harwood, CNBC’s chief Washington correspondent, to provide some analysis of the three scandals that rocked the administration last week. Harwood, with help from co-anchor Erica Hill, attempted to make the discussion about the Republicans and their shortcomings rather than the White House’s failings.
Hill brought up the fact that some senior Republicans, such as Newt Gingrich, have cautioned the party about not going after Obama too aggressively over the scandals. Harwood agreed, adding that the party does not have a wide enough base. He then chastised Republicans: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Friday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton lambasted House Republicans for repeatedly voting to repeal ObamaCare, calling it a "scandal" and an "outrage," as he seemed to cite a questionable study from a left-wing source from 2009 claiming that 45,000 people a year die because they lack health insurance. Sharpton began the segment:
Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I took apart Espo's claim that there is a "lack of evidence to date of wrongdoing close to the Oval Office" by showing that in at least five situations -- Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS targeting, AP phone snooping, and HHS's shaking down of insurance companies to fund ObamaCare promotions -- have all been known by people who directly report to the President, and are thus just one step away from him. On Sunday evening, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the case of the IRS targeting, it's a lot less than one step (bolds are mine):
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Peter Alexander led off with Obama team spin on the scandals rocking the administration: "...the White House is aggressively responding, calling accusations of mismanagement 'offensive and absurd.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A sound bite played of Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer ranting: "There is no question that we want to – that Republicans are trying to make political hay here....What they want to do when they're lacking a positive agenda is try to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped-up hearings, and false allegations. We're not gonna let that happen."
While the the front page of today's Washington Post is actually reporting significant developments in two of Barack Obama's trifecta of scandals, the Washington Post Company-owned free tabloid the Express is busy lamenting if the president will ever get "A Break from the Storm?"
Perhaps, as "advisers say," he "should stage a major economic speech to drown out the noise[emphasis mine] of recent scandals," Express editors helpfully offered in a caption for their front-page photo illustration, which depicted a grimacing President Obama getting drenched in a downpour [see image below page break].
Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator has reviewed the White House logs looking for a relationship between meetings listed there and the timeline found in the Inspector General's report on the targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups issued last Tuesday. Lord's work represents yet another example of alternative media scooping a lazy or negligent establishment press.
What Lord has found (single-page print version) is that President Barack Obama met with the President of the National Treasury Employees Union Colleen Kelley, on March 31, 2010. The NTEU is "the 150,000 member union that represents IRS employees along with 30 other separate government agencies." The Inspector General's report, blandly titled "Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review," indicates that the IRS, in Lord's words, "set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America" the very next day. Lord's work is a mandatory read-the-whole-thing item. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Former Obama press secretary and campaign advisor Robert Gibbs had some harsh words for New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd Monday.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Gibbs said, “I don’t normally read Maureen...largely because it’s sort of largely the same column for the last like eight years” (video follows with transcript and absolutely no need for additional commentary):
Of all the scandals plaguing the Obama administration, the one involving the Internal Revenue Service appears to be the one that even liberal news outlets deem serious.
Count Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler amongst the concerned, for on Monday he actually gave the IRS's Lois Lerner "a bushel of Pinocchios" for statements she has made about her organization's targeting of conservative groups.
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):
As NewsBusters has been reporting this week, even comedians that have been almost universally squeamish about telling jokes about Barack Obama have begun to do so with all the scandals now surrounding this White House.
Jumping on the bandwagon Saturday was political satirist Andy Borowitz who published a piece deliciously titled "Obama Denies Role In Government":
Do you remember Candy Crowley back in October, while acting as a presidential debate moderator, defending Barack Obama's claim that he had called the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, an act of terror the day after the attack?
Crowley apparently doesn't, for on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, she actually challenged Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer about this asking, "Why didn't the president just say, yeah, it was a terrorist attack?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As NewsBusters reported two weeks ago, CBS’s Bob Schieffer is fed up with the White House’s talking points concerning what happened at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September.
His impatience continued on Sunday's Face the Nation when Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer gave stock answers to questions about the three crises facing the President leading Schieffer to first accuse his guest of taking "exactly the approach that the Nixon administration took" and finally scolding him by asking, "Why are you here today? Why isn't the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
By virtually any measure, with three scandals exploding on the White House, last week had to be the worst of Barack Obama's presidency.
Despite this, CNN - the self-described most trusted name in news - released a poll Sunday finding the current White House resident's job approval rose two points since April and a full six points since March.
"Can you see in your mind's eye a way that this might not have been political, that this was a misguided stupid way to sort, but that they didn't intend it to be some kind of political attempt to harass the Tea Party?"
So actually asked CNN's Candy Crowley of her guest Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) concerning the Internal Revenue Service scandal Sunday (video follows with transcript and commentary):
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:
Jay Leno on Friday continued his humorous attacks on the White House.
The NBC Tonight Show host finished a string of opening monologue jokes aimed at President Obama saying, “Let me tell you how bad it's gotten: Fox News has changed its slogan from ‘Fair and Balanced’ to ‘See, I Told You So!’" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was Jay Leno’s guest on the Tonight Show Friday, and he didn’t have kind things to say about the current White House resident or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
At one point in their discussion, Romney said, "I'm not a fan of the president - in case you didn't know that."
The liberal media are not really "up in arms" with the Obama administration, but are simply having a "lover's quarrel" over the AP scandal in particular, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told CNBC host Larry Kudlow on his May 16 The Kudlow Report program.
What's more, it won't be that long until "[t]he Bill Clinton syndrome is going to be upon us, where it's time to move on, we've covered it [the media will say] and they're going to turn the fire right on Republicans as being obstructionists. Mark my word," the Media Research Center founder predicted. [watch the full segment below the page break]
By Friday, as the Obama promoters within the network news divisions started spreading the president's word that three growing scandals are just a blip, they might point to Gallup's daily job-approval ratings for Obama, which remained at 49 percent approve, 45 percent disapprove.
This result might also reflect that Gallup found that a slim majority of Americans are either "very" or "somewhat" following news of the IRS and Benghazi scandals, "comparatively low based on historical measures of other news stories over the last two decades." Low-information voters could still obsess about Angelina Jolie's surgeries or whether Beyonce is pregnant again:
Appearing as a guest on Thursday's PoliticsNation show on MSNBC, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank mocked House Republicans for repeatedly holding unsuccessful votes to repeal ObamaCare as he suggested they should continue to "waste" time so "they'll be less of a harm to the country" because that way "they're not cutting food stamps." Milbank:
The PBS NewsHour led off its Thursday evening telecast with a story about the three scandals that currently envelop the Obama administration: the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, the Justice Department’s subpoena of AP phone records, and the Benghazi attack. Rather than following the package with analysis from a journalist, as PBS often does with stories like this, the taxpayer-subsidized network brought on White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri to provide the White House's spin on these scandals.
Even worse, anchor Judy Woodruff did not rise to the occasion with any tough questioning, allowing Palmieri to spin her way right out of trouble. All of Woodruff’s questions dealt with President Obama’s reaction to the scandals; she never grilled Palmieri on whether the White House was involved in any of this. The assumption seemed to be that the president was an innocent bystander in all of these scandals. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Imagine that in a week in which George W. Bush was dogged by not one or two but three scandals -- one of which was the IRS singling out liberal groups for stricter scrutiny -- a federal appeals court invalidated a recess appointment the Republican president made, finding he improperly ran an end run around the U.S. Senate. The national media would, no doubt, pick up on the story as evidence that the president was abusing power, weaving the development into a larger narrative about the president's untrustworthiness in light of the aforementioned scandals.
Well, yesterday the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling invalidating an Obama recess appointments that was made when the Senate was on a short break in between meetings. This is the second such ruling in four months as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a similar ruling in late January. Predictably, however, both the May 16 broadcast network evening newscasts and the May 17 broadcast network morning shows completely ignored the ruling.