In a Monday National Journal column about how many Democrats are allegedly saying they have "quit" on Obama — claims I find quite hollow, given that no one asserting this has yet had the guts to go on the record — Ron Fournier quotes "a senior White House official" with a head-shaking take on the Veterans Administration scandal.
Specifically, "Questioning why the Veterans Affairs Department hadn't been overhauled months ago as promised by Obama(actually that was seven years ago, plus six other times, Ron — Ed.), a senior White House official conceded privately to me, 'We don't do the small stuff well. And the small stuff is the important stuff.'" If the VA is "small," what in the world is big? And for that matter, what have these people done well, big or small? I suspect that the rest of the press, and Fournier himself, would be absolutely livid if they became aware of such an ignorant statement made by someone in a Republican or conservative administration.
Both Time and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier released by his Afghan captors in exchange for five hardened Gitmo terrorists — or, in the alternative universe of the Los Angeles Times, five guys aged 43 to 47 who "are pretty old now" — will not contact his parents (WSJ's headline says he "has declined to speak to his family").
That news broke several hours after Fox News's Juan Williams appeared on Chris Wallace's Fox News Sunday and compared Bowe Bergdahl to the biblical prodigal son. The analogy didn't even work at that point, as RedState poster Aaron Gardner explained this morning. Video of Williams's wacky whine follows the jump:
With the exchange of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for the release of five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay complete, ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos used the opportunity to promote the possibility of Gitmo closing its doors.
On Sunday, June 8, Byron Pitts, ABC’s Chief National Correspondent peddled the line that “700 men have come through Gitmo since the beginning of the war on terror when these pictures of shackled and hooded men shock the world. Some say past allegations of waterboarding and hunger strikes have turned this place into a terrorist recruiters dream.” [See video below.]
Los Angeles Times reporter Shashank Bengali clearly put a great deal of energy and time into trying to persuade readers on Thursday that the five Gitmo terrorists released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl "may not live up to (that) description."
It only took a day for Bengali's work to be discredited. The person he seemed to believe would be among the least likely to become a threat — after all, he was supposedly just a "civilian official" — "pledged to return to fight Americans in Afghanistan." Geez, couldn't Noorullah Noori at least have allowed a decent interval before telling the truth? Don't you just hate it when one of the guys you're trying to whitewash almost immediately turns around and makes you look like a complete fool?
Brian Williams glossed over the V.A. scandal during his interview of President Obama on Friday's NBC Nightly News. Williams did devote time to the ongoing controversy surrounding the release of senior Taliban leaders in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl – specifically the White House failing to inform Congress 30 days before the Islamists were let go from Guantanamo Bay, as required by federal law.
However, the anchor didn't mention that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed that he was informed of the trade for Bergdahl on May 27, 2014 – a day before it actually happened. Williams also forwarded the President's own misleading claim about his grandfather's World War II service: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
UPDATE, 4:40 p.m.: Friedman has partially scrubbed his Twitter bio. His Tumblr bio linked in this post remains — for now.
Late last night, Brandon Friedman, the Obama administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, unleashed a furious five-tweet barrage attacking those who dare to question whether Bowe Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction" (National Security Advisor Susan Rice's words on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday).
Friedman's tweets would already be headline news in the establishment press if an official in a Republican or conservative administration published what readers are about to see. He saved his strongest venom, couched in a question, for Bergdahl's fellow soldiers — apparently including the ones who died trying to retrieve him — after Bergdahl left his unit (HT Gateway Pundit via Hot Air):
When it comes to being a good liberal soldier, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews doesn’t seem to have gotten the network’s message that the GOP is "swiftboating" Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Over the past week, MSNBC hosts have maintained that Bergdahl had been swiftboated on five different broadcasts and it seems as though Matthews is sick of the comparison.
Speaking with Chuck Todd, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent, Political Director, and host of The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, on the Wednesday June 4, Hardball, Matthews slapped down the MSNBC “swiftboat” narrative: “Swift-boating is totally misused here. Swift-boating is when you make up stories...” [See video below.]
In the midst of the VA scandal and the Bergdahl saga, two unfavorable Wednesday stories about Obamacare are garnering relatively little attention.
One appeared at the Associated Press ("NOW APPLICATION 'INCONSISTENCIES' VEX HEALTH LAW"), and reprised something the Washington Post brought out 2-1/2 weeks ago (covered here at NewsBusters) about how "at least 2 million" Obamacare enrollment applications have "data discrepancies" holding up their full processing. The other far more troubling story appeared at Roll Call. It dealt with a separate mountain of unprocessed paperwork in Medicaid. In her reporting, the DC publication's Rebecca Adams revealed how twisted and potentially dangerous the Obamacare-related political motivations are on the left, where pretending that everything is fine is clearly more important than acknowledging and quickly fixing serious – perhaps even deadly serious — problems (bolds are mine):
Politico Magazine Deputy Editor Blake Hounshell has made a fool of himself yet again. Three months ago, Hounshell grudgingly and bitterly had to acknowledge that former Alaska Governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was right — and he was wrong — when she predicted in 2008 that Barack Obama's weakness might cause Russia's Vladimir Putin to calculate that he could invade Ukraine without suffering meaningful consequences. That's what happened in Crimea. Hounshell characterized Palin's contention at the time as "an extremely far-fetched scenario."
In late April, he tried to claim that no one "credible" or "authoritative" had shown that the White House had knowingly pushed a false Benghazi narrative — just as award-winning reporter Sharyl Attkisson was proving otherwise. Then in a tweet Monday evening, he petulantly questioned why everyone's so concerned about the five hardened Taliban terrorists freed from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl (HT Twitchy):
Far too many journalists in the Washington-Gotham axis believe that any criticism of President Barack Obama must have its roots in cynical right-wing political opportunism and nothing else. At Bloomberg News, in a dispatch time-stamped June 4 at midnight, reporters David Lerman and Kathleen Hunter regaled readers with how the "Taliban Release Gives Republicans Fuel Beyond Benghazi." Some Democrats' concerns about Obama's actions in the freeing of Bowe Bergdahl were already known, including substantive issues of national security. But the Bloomberg pair limited the scope of Obama's problem with Dems to notification, while contending that "the demands for more information have come mostly from Republicans, some of whom already have declared their opposition to a deal whose details have yet to be fully disclosed."
The left-leaning New York Daily News also didn't get the memo that any criticism of Obama can only come from the right.
For evidence that no one looking for objective reporting should seriously consider reading output from the Politico, look no further than the 5,900-word puff piece propagated by Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein on Sunday.
Their "Special Report: The Obama Paradox" told readers what that President Obama supposedly "recognizes that he is less in control of the Washington agenda than ever in his presidency — a reality that has left him deeply frustrated at times." Meanwhile, the EPA is going wild with carbon regs in the name of the "climate change" hoax, federal regulators are harassing banks and their customers who operating legal businesses in Operation Choke Point, and immigration policy has been unilaterally hijacked. And in a final irony, as the Politico pair were putting their handiwork to bed, Obama was conducting a prisoner swap — one soldier whose loyalties are questionable for five hardened terrorists — while violating a law requiring him to notify Congress of what he was going. "Less in control" my foot. Instead, we are seeing ever-expanding usurpation of authority by Obama and his executive branch.
Who the hell was President Obama rescuing: Bowe Bergdahl or the Taliban terrorists themselves?
The questions arises out of the mind-boggling defense of the Bergdahl deal proferred on today's Morning Joe by Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, who argued that by dint of the deal, "the President managed to get five guys out of Gitmo, which is a goal." Well, at least President Obama didn't have to send Navy Seals in helicopters over the Gitmo fence to rescue the Talibans. He achieved his goal with a mere stroke of his mighty pen.
A month ago, I noted that the establishment press has ignored an especially pernicious program undertaken by Eric Holder's Department of Justice and the Obama administration's regulatory apparatus, namely Operation Choke Point.
On Thursday, a strong 321-87 bipartisan majority of the House passed H.R. 4660, the "Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (of) 2015." Among its provisions: "Sec. 554. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to carry out Operation Choke Point." The final bill's supporters included 204 Republicans and 117 Democrats. The establishment press has ignored the vote. Excerpts from Kelly Riddell's Friday coverage at the Washington Times follows the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The United States negotiated the release of five Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the Taliban freeing an American sergeant from captivity yet President Obama may have violated U.S. law by failing to notify Congress of his actions.
Despite the potential legal problems with releasing prisoners without notifying Congress, NBC Nightly News was the only evening news program on Saturday, May 31 to mention the controversy or the GOP's criticism. [See video below.]
An item which appears to be overlooked in the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal is the press's and presumably the public's blind acceptance of the department's goal to reduce its average wait times to 14 days as supposedly "aggressive."
My reaction is that the goal doesn't seem "aggressive" at all, or even borderline acceptable, based on both personal experience and some admittedly limited research I've done on best practices. It seems to me that the average consumer, and for that matter the average journalist, would have a hard time accepting the idea of an average 14-day wait time for a personal appointment involving real urgency. So why should the expectations of or for those who served our country be any lower?
Julie Pace at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is used to carrying water for the Obama administration. Last year, she proudly reveled in how she and her wire service sat on information it had about secret U.S.-Iran negotiations for eight months. My immediate take was that "They didn't report it until the Obama administration said it would be okay to report it." The AP denied it; unfortunately for the self-described "essential global news network," another news organization confirmed that it and AP "both had versions of it independently early & were asked to not publish til end of Iran talks." There's not a chance in Hades that the AP would have similarly accommodated a Republican or conservative administration.
After that heavy lifting, Pace surely found that giving readers the impression in a Friday report about President Barack Obama's sacking of Eric Shinseki that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs have more to do with its growing caseload than with incompetence and potential criminality was relatively easy.
In a report at CNBC on Thursday, Dan Mangan covered a "Kaiser Health Tracking Poll" which appears to have been pre-cooked for an administration which would love to have the press give Obamacare even less than the disproportionately low coverage that it has received since a few weeks after HealthCare.gov's diastrous initial rollout.
Mangan eagerly took the bait. His opening sentence: "And the winner by a nose is...shut up about Obamacare!" Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Imagine the press letting a Republican or conservative get away with trying to avoid uncondtionally calling something as infuriating and outrageous as the Veterans Administration waiting list scandal a real scandal.
Monday afternoon, in an error which made it into the paper's Tuesday print edition, reporter Paul Richter at the Los Angeles Times, in a story on the Obama administration's inadvertent leak of a CIA director's name in Afghanistan, was apparently so bound and determined to include a "Bush did it too" comparison that he went with leftist folklore instead of actual history.
Specifically, Richter wrote that "In 2003, another CIA operative, Valerie Plame, was publicly identified by I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a top aide to Vice President Cheney, in an apparent attempt to discredit her husband, who had publicly raised questions about the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq" (HTs to Patterico and longtime NB commenter Gary Hall). Apparently no one else in the layers of editors and fact-checkers at the Times was aware that this entire claim has been known to be false since 2006.
Last week, I noted how stunned and frustrated CNN reporter Drew Griffin was with President Barack Obama's Wednesday Veterans Administration scandal press conference. Reacting to Obama's pledge to have VA Secretary Secretary Eric Shinseki investigate the problem and to bring in another person "to conduct a broader review" of the VA, Griffin contended that "this problem is real; it exists; it really doesn't have to be studied."
I have since learned that there is an especially strong reason for Griffin's exasperation. The CNN reporter was on the VA's case long before his work in Phoenix, doing work which the rest of the press ignored.
The Associated Press's Charles Babington went so far over the top in his Monday morning dispatch on Republicans, the Obama administration's scandals, and the fall electoral landscape that it's hard to know where to begin.
The fingerprints of Obama administration operatives appear to be all over Babington's report, both in what's included and what's left out. Most notoriously, there is no mention whatsoever of the Veterans Administration scandal. Ah, but there's a specific reference to Democrats who complain that the Benghazi and IRS scandals have been "fading from national headlines" except at the specifically named Fox News. Excerpts from Babington's babbling follow the jump (bolds are mine):
With about 4-1/2 months remaining before early voting begins in the the 2014 elections, three sets of Obamacare-related campaigns are in full gear. The first is seen in electoral contests around the country. The second is a campaign of disinformation and no information being conducted by the Obama administration and its Department of Health and Human Services. The third is a concerted establishment press effort to give cover to Democratic Party candidates no matter what position they take on Obamacare, and to minimize the exposure the administration's deliberate acts of non-transparency receive.
All three campaigns came together in a Monday morning Associated Press report by Bill Barrow and Josh "Lapdog" Lederman. The two reporters avoided any mention of the fact that the administration has decided to "halt" monthly Obamacare enrollment reporting, while giving cover to Democratic Senate candidates around the country who haven't yet figured out how much distance to put between themselves, Obamacare, and President Barack Obama himself (bolds are mine throughout this post):
At the Weekly Standard this morning, Daniel Halper noted a CNN panel discussion wherein the network's John King and guest Maggie Haberman of the Politico discussed how furious many Democrats are with President Barack Obama's leadership, especially in connection with the Veterans administration scandal. The broadcast also reveals that the Beltway press corps has been aware of Democrats' misgivings about Obama's leadership for some time. We sure haven't heard much about it, have we?
This is noteworthy because the press eagerly broadcasts evidence of disagreements among Republicans and conservatives, and rarely does so when there is disunity on the left. The odds that we'll see much more of what aired this morning on CNN are therefore quite low. Video and a transcript follow the jump:
At the Associated Press on Thursday, reporter Alan Fram covered the Senate's confirmation of David Barron without using the words "filibuster" or "waterboarding."
Given that he was confirmed on a 53-45 vote, it is highly unlikely that Barron's nomination would have survived had Senate majority leader Harry Reid not imposed the "nuclear option" last year to prevent senators from stopping a contentious nomination by requiring 60 senators to approve the idea of even having a confirmation vote. As for waterboarding, Barron's nomination became controversial because he is, as Fram noted, the "architect of the Obama administration's legal foundation for killing American terror suspects overseas with drones." 53 Democratic senators are apparently okay with that, even though many if not most of them have gone apoplectic over the idea of waterboarding known terrorists of any nationality who may have knowledge of their fellow travelers' plans.
The press continues its disinterested fiddling while the royal mess known as Obamacare burns through money and exhausts the patience of those attempting any kind of oversight.
One of the more obvious examples of this is how the Washington Post's May 17 story on errors in calculating Obamacare subsidies has gone absolutely nowhere. About one-third of the 20 results returned in a Google News search on "healthcare subsidies" (not in quotes) at 11 p.m. ET Friday evening were partial reprints or rewrites of the original story by WaPo reporters Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar. Most of the remaining results were from center-right outlets, while a few came from medical sites. The results didn't change much when searching on "health care" instead of "healthcare." What the WaPo pair reported is a breathtaking cacophony of incompetence which, as Heritage noted last year, won't even "solve" itself when Obamacare enrollees file their 2014 tax returns. Goldstein and Somashekhar also missed an opportunity to make a fundamental point, which is that everyone who has enrolled has some exposure.
During the Pentagon Papers controversy over the release of Vietnam-related military and other documents in 1971, if a columnist had written that "the private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences," and that "that decision must ultimately be made by the government," he or she would have been tagged in the press as a "(Richard) Nixon defender" and "an enemy of press freedom."
How ironic it thus is that Thursday, in his New York Times review of Glenn Greenwald's new book ("No Place to Hide"), current liberal Vanity Fair columnist and former CNN "Crossfire" host Michael Kinsley used that very language as he went after Greenwald, who has been NSA eavesdropping leaker Edward Snowden's go-between for the past year, with a vengeance. And yes, he did it at the Times, the very newspaper which was at the heart of the Pentagon Papers litigation that was ultimately decided in its favor.
In discussing President Obama's Wednesday press conference on the Veterans Administration wait-list scandal, CNN's Drew Griffin, identified by the network's Jake Tapper as "the reporter who began this whole story with his investigation into the Phoenix VA," appeared to barely contain himself as he described the "disconnect between what's happening out here in the country and what the president is talking about."
Specifically, Griffin asserted that "this problem is real; it exists; it really doesn't have to be studied," and that "the vets I've been talking to wanted much more direct action." Griffin clearly expected a far more substantive and immediate response from Obama yesterday, and was disappointed that it didn't come. The video segment (via the Washington Free Beacon), a transcript, and Rush Limbaugh's insightful reaction follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Wednesday's World News on ABC minimized any sense of the Obama administration's responsibility in the ongoing V.A. scandal, and spent the least amount of air time on the issue among the Big Three networks' evening newscasts. The program actually aired segments on pickpocketing and custom mobile homes than lasted about a half a minute longer each than their report on the scandal.
Diane Sawyer spotlighted how the President "weighed in – talking tough and talking action" on the "growing outrage over veterans hospitals." Jim Avila noted how multiple V.A. medical facilities in several states are now being investigated, and let the relative of deceased veteran decry the President's handling of the scandal. However, he didn't mention that the wait lists have been around for years – something that CBS Evening News mentioned in its coverage of the controversy: [MP3 audio from the ABC report available here; video below the jump]
At a website called Girard at Large in Manchester, New Hampshire, proprietor Richard Girard videotaped and reported on the proceedings of a debate held at St. Anselm's College on the Common Core educational standards — something you'll almost never see anyone in the establishment press deign to do.
Girard appropriately described proponents' descriptions of and arguments in favor of the standards "revealing," "enlightening," and "well, frightening." Perhaps no statement made during the two-hour event Monday contained more of all three adjectives than one made by Dr. David Pook, a teacher at The Derryfield School in Manchester, about what motivated him to get involved with having input into the English Language Arts standards. Brace yourself (HT BizPac Review; specific audio segment is at this link; bolds are mine throughout this post; May 22 Update: Mr. Pook's comment was slightly revised at the original link for accuracy; that revision is now reflected below):
One would think that Florida Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia can only get so many free passes from the national press before they'll have to acknowledge his serious problems. We'll see.
Back in January, the Associated Press and the rest of the national establishment media managed to limit their coverage of the arrest and ultimate guilty plea of Garcia's chief of staff for illegally plotting to obtain absentee ballot to local outlets. They did this even though — or perhaps because — the Congressman excused the man's attack on election integrity, for which he received a wrist-slap sentence of 90 days in jail, as "a well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout." A week or so ago, there was an ear wax incident, which I'd rather skip. Earlier today, America Rising posted a far more important video, wherein the congressman bizarrely claimed — he says he wasn't serious, but it doesn't sound like it to me — that additional money spent on Mexican border security proves that "communism works."