In Thursday and Friday posts at the "Politico 44: A Living Diary of the Obama Presidency," Jennifer Epstein relayed the announcement that President Barack Obama has nominated Victoria Nuland as the next assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
In other words, the President is defiantly giving the person who was integrally involved in altering the Benghazi talking points until they bore no resemblance to what really happened a promotion. In her first item, Epstein acted as if Republicans are the only ones who might have a problem with this. In her second item, she found two usual-suspect GOP senators who said they'd be okay being walked over. Excerpts follow the jump.
In a way you have to hand it to Krystal Ball. The former Democratic congressional candidate-turned-MSNBC co-host is always hard at work spinning for the Obama administration, come what may. Appearing on Thursday's Politics Nation, the co-host of MSNBC’s The Cycle raved about President Obama’s May 23 national security speech, claiming the president is “reining in his own power,” a “remarkable and incredibly unusual” move.
Ball fawned over the president’s speech to host Al Sharpton, claiming he “put the steps in place” to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, before offering this proclamation about Obama’s executive power:
One obvious question which occurred to me and I suspect others when I read Ann Marimow's first account at the Washington Post dated May 19 of the search warrant issued in 2009 for the personal emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen was: "Where has this thing been hiding?"
The "Affadavit for Search Warrant" is dated May 28, 2010. Why did it come out just this week? Marimow didn't say. More stories followed, still without explanation. It's not unreasonable to believe that the Post might have sat on knowledge of its existence, and that someone who works at the U.S. Court may have deliberately worked to keep it invisible for 18 months after it was supposed to have been unsealed in November 2011.
The Big Three networks coverage so far of the Justice Department's questionable investigation of Fox News' James Rosen has followed a similar pattern to that of their coverage of the Kermit Gosnell case. Jan Crawford's report on Thursday's CBS This Morning was the first full report on growing controversy on ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning and evening newscasts. NBC briefly covered the investigation on Tuesday's Today, and ABC has yet to mention it.
Crawford pointed out how the DOJ's "unprecedented" surveillance of Rosen has "really just set off a firestorm of criticism from the left and right. For the first time ever, a presidential administration is treating news reporting like a crime, and a reporter like a criminal suspect." [audio available here; video below the jump]
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):
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):
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):
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):
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:
Clearly, the New York Times couldn't run with Jonathan Weisman's headline or opening sentence in the report he filed shortly after Friday's portion of Friday's testimony at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee in its Saturday print edition. And it didn't.
The original headline at Weisman's story, as seen here (HT Ann Althouse via Instapundit), was "Treasury Knew of I.R.S. Inquiry in 2012, Official Says." His opening sentence: "The Treasury Department’s inspector general told senior Treasury officials in June 2012 he was auditing the Internal Revenue Service’s screening of politically active organizations seeking tax exemptions, disclosing for the first time on Friday that Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year." Along came Jeremy Peters, who helped to "properly" frame these matters, turning it into yet another "Republicans attack our poor innocent administration" piece. That is what made it to today's paper -- on Page A12, naturally accompanied by a "better" headline. Meanwhile, except for excerpts captured at places like the indispensable FreeRepublic, Weisman's original has been flushed down the memory hole.
In a story appearing this morning at the Politico about the Department of Justice's broad and unannounced subpoenas of the April and May 2012 personal and business phone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press involving 20 phone lines and involving over 100 reporters and editors, James Hohmann found several "veteran prosecutors" who aren't necessarily outraged by what most members of the press and several watchdog groups have declared a blatant overreach. Instead, Hohmann summarizes their "far more measured response" as: "It’s complicated."
Hohmann utterly ignored a May 15 Washington Post story which chronicled claimed discussions between AP and government officials. Ultimately, it appears that the Obama administration's Department of Justice under Eric Holder may have only gone after AP out of spite because the wire service refused to accommodate administration requests to allow it time to crow about foiling a terrorist plot before the story gained meaningful visibility, and not because the release of the story, especially after what appears to have been an appropriate and negotiated delay, represented a genuine security risk. One obvious unanswered question is why DOJ waited, according to the AP's Mark Sherman in his original story, until "earlier this year" to obtain the phone records if it was so darned important to find out who the alleged leaker was.
In the latest instance of liberal journalists thinking alike, Charlie Rose asked practically the same question on Friday's CBS This Morning that ABC's George Stephanopoulos did on Good Morning America. Rose wondered if congressional Republicans "may overplay their hand and somehow squander what they think is opportunity" on the three scandals currently surrounding the Obama White House.
The CBS anchor proposed this question not even four minutes after Stephanopoulos asked ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl, "Are some of [the GOP] leaders worried that some of the Republicans may be overplaying their hand?"
Thursday's CBS This Morning did its best to shift blame away from President Obama on the IRS, Justice Department, and Benghazi scandals currently surrounding his administration. Bob Schieffer shot down comparisons to the Watergate scandal that led to former President Richard Nixon's resignation: "This is not the Nixon administration, where you had burglars and people talking about blowing up the Brookings Institution. This is more of a case – is anybody home?" [audio available here; video below the jump]
Anchor Charlie Rose seconded Schieffer's assessment, asserting that the President "seems like a bystander in his own government." He later stated that "the President has to take control of his own government."
MSNBC is known for having bizarrely liberal commentators dubbed “political analysts” who hold forth their opinions while others on the panel nod in agreement. One such frequent panelist is Georgetown University's Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
But on Wednesday's Now with Alex Wagner, Dyson went to new bizarre and nonsensical heights in his reaction to the controversy involved the Obama/Holder DOJ secretly subpoenaing the phone records of AP reporters. And yes, before you ask, the "Debating Race" author tossed in some absurd reference to race even though it had absolutely nothing to do with the story. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
It's just so unfortunate that such nice guys are going through such trying circumstances.
That's the impression one gets from graphic teases seen at about 9:30 this morning at the Washington Post, where the captions underneath the three left thumbnails read as follows: "President Obama’s disastrous political week"; "Jay Carney’s tough day"; and "Jay Carney’s day — in 7 faces." If you don't recall such an obvious outward show of sympathy during the final year of George W. Bush's presidency, you're not alone. A quick look at the underlying items follows the jump.
When I first heard of limp faux apology by the IRS's Lois Lerner on Friday for her tax-exempt division's harassment of Tea Party and conservative organizations, I thought she had done so on a conference call.
Well, she did have a conference call with reporters later that day -- the one where she said “I’m not good at math” -- but her original apology occurred at a conference of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association in Washington (Lerner's relevant involvement is shown here). Why would such a mea culpa occur out of the blue at such a venue? The answer, per Kevin Williamson at National Review's The Corner blog, is that it wasn't out of the blue at all (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In a disptach early this evening, the Associated Press's Pete Yost, perhaps signaling his employer's intent to remain the journalistic lapdog known as the Administration's Press, accepted at face value Attorney General Eric Holder's claim, while defending his department's actions, to have played no role in its wide-ranging subpoena of two months of AP phone records involving 20 cellular, personal and business lines used by over 100 wire service reporters and editors. Yost also did not address whether DOJ received judicial approval for its fishing expedition, a question the AP's Mark Sherman identified last night as unresolved.
It apparently hasn't occurred to Yost that if an Attorney General is aware that his underlings are about to engage in blatant, First Amendment-chilling prosecutorial overreach and intimidation -- a characterization the reporter himself made clear is shared by critics of all political stripes -- merely removing oneself from the case is a completely insufficient reaction. Instead, the AG is duty-bound to order it not to happen, and to remove anyone who chooses to defy his order. If the AG supports what his people have done, then he's responsible for the results and fallout. That's how being the boss is supposed to work. Excerpts from Yost's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In a move which appears conveniently timed to coincide with a wave of other arguably more damaging bad news for the administration, the Associated Press has reported that the Department of Justice informed the wire service on Friday that it had secretly obtained two months of reporters' and editors' telephone records.
In the words of AP's Mark Sherman, in coverage late this afternoon, "the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012." Sherman also notes that "more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters," and that those records "were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year" (i.e., after Obama was safely re-elected). More from Sherman's report, a comment from yours truly, and several comments by others who have read AP's coverage follow the jump (bolds are mine):
It says something about the seriousness of the rest of the news during the past several days when a story about unethical spying by reporters working for a company founded and built by the current mayor of New York City barely makes a ripple.
It has been alleged, and now admitted, that Bloomberg reporters monitored terminal login activity to develop stories about possible Wall Street executive departures before anyone else outside the entities involved knew and for other news-gathering purposes. The practice appears to go back to when Gotham Mayor Michael Bloomberg was still at the helm of Bloomberg LP, as seen in the bolded sections in the excerpt from a Saturday CNBC news story which follows the jump:
The admission by the IRS that its workers targeted conservative Tea Party groups was so scandalous even some of the liberals at MSNBC felt compelled to condemn the tax agency. On Friday's edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports substitute host Chris Cillizza exclaimed he was "stunned" by the "dumbness" of the IRS.
Cillizza's Washington Post colleague, Ruth Marcus called the revelations "outrageous." Marcus added: "The absolute worst thing that the IRS can do is make itself look political/ideological and to make it look like it's picking on some political groups and not others. That is terrible." (video after the jump)
In what could be seen as either ignorance or more likely denial of reality, NBC News's David Gregory seemed to minimize the severity of the potential cover-up following the September 11 terrorist attack on an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on May 9, the Meet The Press host simply claimed that the Benghazi talking points were merely handled by the Obama administration with "sloppiness." [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
The Washington Post and reporter Dan Zak returned to bowing before the radical-left “Prophets of Oak Ridge” as their trial began Tuesday. The protesters broke into a nuclear-weapons production facility last July and hammered a wall and vandalized it with human blood. The headline at the top of Wednesday’s Style section was “Protest and protocol vie in anti-nuclear activists’ Tenn. trial.”
Zak began by putting the leftists on the side of “morality and conscience” and the national-security apparatus on the side of “protocol and budgets.” That’s funny, we could have put our nation’s defenders on the side of “morality and conscience,” and these radicals on the side of “vandalism and political exhibitionism” (or just “breaking and entering”):
Give Nancy Cook at NationalJournal.com credit for a generally well-written though somewhat naive report ("Forget the Unemployment Rate: The Alarming Stat Is the Number of 'Missing Workers'") on the unprecedented plight of the millions of adults who have dropped out of the labor force.
But in discussing the "glaring caveat" in Friday's employment report from the government, namely that "the 'labor force participation rate' held steady in April at 63.3 percent—the lowest level since 1979," she missed a major source of the rise in the rate to a record level in the late-1990s. She also left readers otherwise unaware of the actual history with the impression that the rate has been "on a gradual decline" since then, which is simply not the case.
You've got hand it to some (probably most) of the reporters at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. Their story is that the economy is all right, and by gosh, they're sticking to it.
Tom Raum's dispatch yesterday is a case in point. Along the way, he pulled out several of the tired spin-driven claims which have long since been taken down but which haven't yet penetrated the skulls of low-information voters. Raum and AP seem puzzled that the supposedly okey-dokey economy doesn't seem to be helping President Obama or Democrats' 2014 congressional and senatorial election prospects (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
The email announcing the supposedly momentous occasion of another column by the Politico's Glenn Thrush arrived in my mailbox with the following headline and subhead: "Obama: Hey guys, I'm still here -- The president's press conference brimmed with frustration and was filled with tantalizing promise."
On clickthrough, I learned that the online website's massagers-in-chief changed those items (but not the underlying URL, which reflects the email) to the following in the published article: "President Obama: I’m still relevant -- Obama finds himself hemmed in by the familiar constraints of partisanship and world events." Thrush's text identifed another problem supposedly hemming Obama in, complete with a slavery analogy: "the shackles of his own commitments." Poor guy; he has to deal with the world as it is, not how he'd like it to be, and those darned things he promised to do to get elected and reelected. Gosh, life is just so unfair, isn't it? Excerpts following Thrush's theme follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's attempt to keep his state's agencies from releasing detailed data on the use of the public-assistance system by the Tsarnaev family, whose sons, one dead and one in custody, are accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, appeared to be successful last week.
Ah, but Patrick, apparently feeling some heat, did agree "to release the information only to a House oversight committee where it will remain a secret." Except it's not a secret any more, at least in the aggregate, based on a report in the Boston Herald by Chris Cassidy which, based on when story comments first began appearing, went up during the middle of the afternoon today:
On Thursday for Friday's print edition, the New York Times carried a weakly headlined but well-written story entitled "U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination" on its front page. Written by Sharon LaFraniere with the help of three others, it laid out how what began in 1997 as a class-action suit by black farmers (Pigford v. Glickman) claiming they had suffered discrimination at the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture "became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms." Moreover, LaFraniere covered how the scope of the litigation grew "to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers" to the tune of over 90,000 claims and potential ultimate taxpayer cost of over $4.4 billion, in the process morphing into a vehicle for the Obama administration to unjustifiably dole out taxpayer money to as many people and constituent groups as possible. It is worth reading the entire story, though it will make just about anyone concerned about the financial and cultural future of this nation shudder.
The Times coverage indeed "vindicates" the late Andrew Breitbart, whose Big Government blog exposed the fraud associated with Pigford, but that vindication is hardly satisfying. We're supposed to be impressed that the paper finally got around to substantively covering it, and that the paper even noted the "Public criticism (which) came primarily from conservative news outlets like Breitbart.com and from Congressional conservatives like Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, who described the program as rife with fraud." I don't see why.
The Boston Herald has broken the story -- a scoop even the Boston Globe has acknowledged -- that "Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism."
A responsible national establishment press would treat this as an important story, because, as the Herald's Chris Cassidy noted in the understatement of the day, it "raises questions over whether Tsarnaev financed his radicalization on taxpayer money." Several paragraphs from the Herald story, followed by a look at how Todd Wallack and Beth Healy at the Globe handled their story on the family's finances, follow the jump.
Last week, MSNBC's Chris Matthews was seen shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings wondering whether they had anything to do with "Tax Day" (which it wasn't in Massachusetts; it was Patriots' Day, a state holiday, and the tax filing deadline there was not until the next day) and asserting that "Normally domestic terrorists, people, tend to be on the far right."
Now Matthews appears not to be interested in finding out what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers, accused of perpetrating the Boston Marathon bombings, to do what they allegedly did, as the following passage from an April 22 "Hardball" discussion with an incredulous FBI profiler found at RealClearPolitics tells us (bolds are mine):
Both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News, the latter crediting wire service assistance, have reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the now deceased older brother accused of committing the Boston Marathon bombings, was thrown out of a service at the Islamic Society of Boston, the Cambridge mosque he attended, about three months ago. I wonder if anyone in the media will notice the terror-connected history of the ISB? It's right there for anyone who cares to look for it.
First, quoting the Times story by Andrew Tangel and Ashley Powers: