Not that it absolves them from blame, but one contributor to the Big Three establishment TV networks' utter failure to report on or keep up with developments in the IRS targeting scandal -- failures which have been noted by Geoffrey Dickens at NewsBusters, as well as by the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell on Sean Hannity's TV show last night -- is the Associated Press.
The AP provides much of the raw material for the networks' stories and largely determines the nets' perception as to which stories are important. It is still quite appropriate to refer to it as the Administration's Press, even after Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder admitted to scouring phone records involving 20 business and personal lines used by over 100 AP reporters and editors in April and May of last year. Yesterday's failure by the wire service's Pete Yost to even mention that the IRS scandal was on the agenda at a House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday involving FBI Director Robert Mueller exemplifies how negligent or intimidated (or both) the AP has become.
"A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson's computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions in late 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson's accounts."
"The media finally recognized a[n] [Obama] scandal, but then slowly but surely they took their foot off the gas," Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity noted of the media's treatment of the IRS/Tea Party scandal as he opened the "Media Mash" segment with NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell on Thursday's Hannity. As Hannity opened the segment, an on-screen graphic [embedded below the page break] displayed data collected by Media Research Center (MRC) deputy research director Geoff Dickens which showed the broadcast media's waning interest in reporting on developments in the scandal.
"Look, the first two weeks of this scandal, 96 stories. The second two weeks, 31 stories. This week: one story. It's over," as far as the media are concerned, the MRC founder noted, even though the MRC's own CNSNews.com division broke some damning revelations related to the IRS scandal this week. For example, Bozell noted:
John Dickerson downplayed most of the recent scandals surrounding the Obama administration on Thursday's CBS This Morning, asserting that the White House was "trying to get something done on immigration....they're trying to stay focused on the things that really matter to this presidency, and only trying to spend a small amount of time putting out these little fires."
This came mere moments after Dickerson acknowledged the potential for the scandals to affect the President's legacy: "At the worst end...you get a feeling it's a scandal a week related to the administration, and if that idea sets in – that there's a kind of, rot....that affects the President's legacy." [audio available here; video below the jump]
When news broke that IRS agents were abusively targeting conservative groups particularly the Tea Party, it looked at as if this was an Obama administration scandal that would stick. Even reporters like NBC’s Andrea Mitchell counted it as among the “most outrageous excesses I’ve seen.” Obama sycophant Chris Matthews predicted it could be worth “five or 10 points” for Republicans in the next midterm elections. Even theNew York Timeseditorial board proclaimed: “The IRS Audits Are Condemned.”
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) news networks actually jumped to cover the story, filling their evening and morning shows with a total of 96 stories in the first two weeks (May 10 through May 23) of coverage. But after those two strong weeks, the broadcast networks lost interest in the scandal, and the coverage slowed to a crawl -- just 31 stories in the subsequent weeks (May 24 through June 12). This week, the networks have run only one story (June 11 on ABC’s Good Morning America) on the IRS scandal.
Karen Finney recently began her new gig as an MSNBC weekend anchor, but on Sunday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, she got a little nostalgic for one of her old jobs.
Appearing as the subject of Witt’s "Office Politics" segment, Finney continued the liberal media tradition of making the GOP the focus of the current Obama administration scandals. “[Republicans] clearly think that they can ride this to the midterm elections on this sort of culture of coverup,” she huffed. [Video below the break. MP3 audio here.]
The latest State Department scandal, involving a possible cover-up of sexual misconduct by an ambassador and security officials, was only newsworthy enough to merit one full report each on ABC and NBC's morning and evening newscasts before the two networks moved on. NBC led Tuesday's Today with the "damaging documents" concerning the "possibly illegal...behavior", but ignored it the following morning. NBC Nightly News hasn't even touched the story yet.
ABC arrived late to covering the allegations on Tuesday's World News, but Good Morning America has yet to mention the issue as of Wednesday. CBS broke their scoop on the scandal on Monday's CBS This Morning, and covered it as well on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Tuesday night's O'Reilly Factor, mentioning his appearance on NBC's Today that morning, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly observed that the Peacock Network was having a difficult time covering the scandals plaguing the Obama administration: "Look, even when I was at the Today show this morning, NBC News, okay? I would say the most fervent Obama news agency in the country....Even them, they're going, 'Whoa, whoa.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Guest Monica Crowley replied: "Even NBC, Holy smokes! That's when you know he's in trouble..." O'Reilly added: "...they can't defend him anymore, the President, because he's in charge." Crowley countered: "Well, I mean, look, they still go to great lengths to protect him." O'Reilly declared: "Not today they didn't."
Isn't it ironic that President Obama, having acquired the highest office in the land by agitating — all his political life — against privilege and discrimination, is now systematically wielding his executive power lawlessly to favor his friends and punish his enemies?
We are witnessing an unmistakable pattern from Obama and those under his command of establishing different rules for different groups of Americans. I'm not just referring to his opportunistic championing of the "poor" and his vendetta against the "wealthy" or his relentless vilification of "fat cat banks," big corporations, private jet owners and the insurance, oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power industries. It goes well beyond that.
In a story which I can attest is accurate, Gina Loudon at WND.com, formerly WorldNetDaily, reports that the Air Force's 624th Operations Center is warning airmen not to look at the news.
That's not exactly what they're saying, but they might as well be. What the "Notice to Airmen" says is that "Users are not to use AF NIPRNET systems to access the Verizon phone records collection and other related news stories because the action could constitute a Classified Message Incident." It's currently pretty hard to go to a news site without seeing a blurb on a "related story," given how many "related stories" there are which go way beyond Verizon to nine tech companies, 50 other companies, Edward Snowden, White House, congressional and bureaucrats' responses, etc. The Air Force's claim that reading a news story or even looking at documents which have been made public is a "Classified Message Incident" is pretty shaky, based on the definition provided in a two-year old memo I located. That definition, and a grab of the censorious memo, follow the jump.
I guess “The Place for Politics” has become “The Place to Dance Around Obama Scandals.”
MSNBC’s Joy Reid was so desperate to stifle the growing scandals facing the IRS, she brought a hip-hop artist on Saturday’s The Ed Show to critique the dance moves of IRS employees. Guest-hosting for the weekend show, Reid spent five minutes interviewing musician Cupid about his dance, the Cupid Shuffle.
Sometime late Thursday afternoon, an editorial at the New York Times bitterly criticizing President Obama for the expansion of surveillance efforts during his administration contained this sentence: "The administration has lost all credibility." Within a few hours, as seen here, that sentence was changed to "The administration has lost all credibility on this issue," and set off in a separate paragraph.
A Google News search on ["Susan Rice" "executive privilege"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets) returns two stories. The main one is at Fox News, where K.T. McFarland pointed out that President Obama, now that he has appointed Susan Rice to be his National Security Adviser, can invoke executive privilege to keep her from testifying before Congress. The second is at Mediate, and notes that McFarland said the same thing to Fox News Channel anchor Martha MacCallum earlier today.
Among those who conveniently didn't catch this: Frank James at NPR, who didn't identify the executive privilege dodge in his "5 Takeaways From Obama's Susan Rice Appointment"; the Associated Press, whose three Wednesday items on Rice (here, here, and here) don't mention it, and where a search on "executive privilege" (not in quotes) returned nothing relevant; and the Politico, where a search on "Rice executive privilege" (not in quotes) also returned nothing relevant. Excerpts from McFarland's column, with harsh words about Rice's lack of qualifications, follow the jump (bold and italics are hers except final paragraph):
Instead of showing endless loops of IRS employees wasting taxpayer dollars line-dancing -- Breaking news: Government employees waste millions of your dollars every single day! -- I think it would be more useful for the public to hear a few crucial facts about the exploding scandal at the Internal Revenue Service.
At Tuesday's congressional hearings on the IRS, witnesses provided shocking details about the agency's abuse of conservative groups.
For the second day in a row, The Washington Post showed it was bored by the IRS scandal by putting the hearings story inside the paper.
Instead, the top of Wednesday's post seized on the favorite liberal scandal du jour: "Military chiefs lament sex assaults but reject Senate bill." Their Post Express tabloid screamed this front-page headline: "CAN THE MILITARY CURE ITS 'CANCER'?"
Wednesday's CBS This Morning minimized Susan Rice's refuted claims about the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi as they covered her appointment as national security adviser. Charlie Rose and John Dickerson dwelt more on outgoing national security adviser Tom Donilon's term, with Dickerson only vaguely mentioning how Rice was "the focus of so much controversy in the Senate."
The only time that a CBS News personality specifically mentioned Benghazi during the segment was when Gayle King wondered if President Obama's decision to choose the current U.N. ambassador to succeed Donilon was a "message to Republicans who came down hard on Susan Rice during the Benghazi hearings."
MSNBC continues to disparage the scandals that have plagued the Obama administration the last few weeks. On Sunday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, the host brought on former Democratic staffer Jimmy Williams and former RNC chairman Michael Steele to reluctantly discuss the scandals once again. Of course, rather than focus on the substance of the controversies, Witt fell back on the concern that she and many others in the liberal media have often expressed: “[D]oes this have the potential to derail the president's second-term agenda?”
The president’s agenda is always the victim of these scandal investigations in the minds of the press, at least when there's a (D) following the president's surname. Williams, being the Democrat that he is, brushed aside that question and riffed on another favorite left-wing talking point – Republicans will overreach, just as they did with Bill Clinton in 1998:
At the end of an interview with New York Senator Chuck Schumer on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory teed up the Democrat to lecture Republicans on being too focused on the scandals plaguing the Obama administration: "Do you have a warning for Republicans who want to make the IRS and personal issues affecting the President the main theme of 2014?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Schumer eagerly proclaimed: "My warning to the Republicans is look at 1998. All they did is spend their time on the impeachment of Bill Clinton. And for the first time, the incumbent president didn't lose seats in the House....if they go too far, they will lose....if they emphasize it too much they're going to pay a price at the polls in 2014."
In an interview with Arizona Senator John McCain on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie attempted to dismiss growing evidence that the IRS scandal rocking the Obama administration went as far as Washington D.C.: "Darrell Issa...says that his gut tells him this goes beyond the Cincinnati office....He released excerpts of some e-mails that might support that theory, they're not conclusive. Do you take the Inspector General of the IRS at its word saying this – this was something that happened in Cincinnati and went no further?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
See no scandal, report no scandal. Jill Abramson, Executive Editor of the New York Times, came down to DC on Sunday to defend President Obama on the scandals and the economy, stressing the leaks cases is the only supposed scandal she cares about as she contended “I’m just not sure” the leaks cases, IRS and Benghazi “come together and create, you know -- quote, unquote -- ‘an atmosphere of scandal.’”
An atmosphere the New York Times is working to prevent.
Pivoting to the downside for President Obama of the swirling scandals, Meet the Press host David Gregory fretted over “a bigger issue that the President faces, which is where is his agenda left in all this?” Citing a poll showing the public thinks fixing unemployment should be a higher priority than investigations, Gregory despaired: “The President’s coming under fire for losing his scope, effectively, in a second term to rebuild America, to usher in economic restoration.”
“Well, that’s the tragedy for him. It’s a tragedy for all of us,” New York Times columnist Tom Friedman agreed.
MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham appeared on the Fox Business program Varney & Co. on Friday morning to discuss the fading network coverage of the IRS scandal, even though a new poll shows the American people find that to be the most serious Obama scandal.
Substitute host Charles Payne asked if the media were turning tough on Obama. “We already have disturbing signs that the networks are dropping off this,” Graham said, since IRS official Lois Lerner refused to testify and took the Fifth. (Video below)
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."
"I've been saying it from the very beginning," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell reminded Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity. When it comes to Obama administration scandals, the liberal media are eventually forced to cover them, but "they'll do a couple of stories, and then they'll say, we're done and they'll walk away."
That's exactly why the liberal media returned to adoring lapdog form last week and gushed over pro-Obama fluff like newly-released Obama senior prom pictures from 1979, the Media Research Center founder noted. "Nothing you and I can say can better illustrate how much in the tank the press is for Barack Obama," Bozell concluded, having noted how, by contrast, Lois Lerner's taking the Fifth before a congressional hearing on IRS abuse was ignored on the May 23 Good Morning America and Today programs. [watch the full "Media Mash" segment below the page break]
On Thursday night’s O’Reilly Factor, the Fox News host opened the show by attacking former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman for visiting the White House 157 times, almost four times as many appearances as Hillary Clinton. O’Reilly hinted this was a “smoking gun” of the White House running the IRS harassment campaign of the Tea Party.
But guess what: this fact of Shulman’s well-worn path to the White House gates has yet to be reported by ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. O’Reilly can’t believe this number:
On Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie asked special correspondent Tom Brokaw about his recent comment that the press "has to be careful about having a glass jaw" when it comes to the Obama Justice Department investigating reporters: "...you made a remark that journalists...shouldn't have what you called a 'glass jaw' when it comes to some of these investigations, citing the First Amendment and threats to the First Amendment." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Brokaw stood by his statement: "Well, the First Amendment is a critically important part of the Constitution. It is not unconditional, obviously. Any number of us over the years have been in dialogues and in conversations with senior government officials about when something can be disclosed and under what circumstances. And it's kind of case by case. It's not unconditional."
MSNBC continues to do its best to protect the Obama administration from any accusations of wrongdoing in the Benghazi fiasco. On Sunday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, the host went so far as to ask whether it is even legitimate to call Benghazi a scandal.
Witt was setting up her pre-taped “Office Politics” interview with Joy-Ann Reid, managing editor of The Grio and frequent MSNBC contributor, when she announced that she "asked Joy-Ann about the fallout from the Benghazi attacks and if it's legitimate to call that mess a scandal.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Wednesday's CBS This Morning zeroed in on the House Judiciary Committee's inquiry into whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath during his testimony regarding the Justice Department's controversial investigation of journalists. Jan Crawford's two-and-a-half minute report on the congressional investigation into Holder stood out as the only coverage on the Big Three networks on their Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning newscasts.
Crawford underlined that "conservative and liberal voices" are clamoring for Holder's resignation in the wake of the questionable surveillance of the Associated Press and Fox News' James Rosen. She also asserted that "everyone in Washington is talking about is whether...a survivor, like Eric Holder, gets drummed out."
"When First Amendment advocates say Rosen was "falsely" characterized as a co-conspirator, they do not understand the law," huffed Pincus. "When others claim this investigation is 'intimidating a growing number of government sources,' they don't understand history." Lucky for us we have Pincus to school us all, I suppose. But the fact remains that when you consider the timeline of the investigation, there appears to be no legitimate reason for the FBI to have gone on a fishing expedition through Rosen's emails and phone records, considering what they already knew from their investigation of government records that narrowed down the leak to one suspect: intelligence adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim.