It’s been common for a few years to observe that Democrats and Republicans barely talk with each other anymore, but if you believe Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall, these days the two parties aren’t even truly fighting with each other.
In a Tuesday blog post, Marshall claimed that each party now is “operating in [its] own political universe.” In one universe, President Obama ignores obstructionist GOPers and uses his executive powers to accomplish what he can; in the other, Republicans and their media allies are less concerned with thwarting Obama than with revving up their base, largely by flogging Benghazi and other scandals.
CBS This Morning was the only broadcast network news show that covered the latest discovery in the IRS scandal on the morning of June 18. Meanwhile, all three networks devoted at least two minutes to report on Dr. Oz’s appearance before the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee to discuss the unconsented use of his image to endorse diet products online.
While CBS devoted only 30 seconds to the revelation that the emails of six more IRS employees have been reported lost, the network spent 2 minutes and 32 seconds describing how the celebrity doctor was berated by Democratic Senators for peddling diet products on his show that may not actually work. (See video below. Click here for MP3 audio)
But none of the Big Three network evening newscasts even mentioned the development tonight, even as they had time for stories on the 20th anniversary of the OJ Simpson freeway chase (NBC), a rare postage stamp up for auction (CBS), and how dogs have and enforce a sort of social etiquette when they play with each other (ABC). [MP3 audio here; video montage follows page break]
Despite the damning new revelations in the IRS scandal, ABC and NBC have failed to cover the story as of Monday June 16, and only CBS This Morning reported on the emails on Monday but their evening news program ignoring the IRS alongside ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News.
On Monday, only CBS This Morning reported Friday's stunning revelation that the IRS somehow lost two years worth of emails from Lois Lerner, the official at the center of the agency scandal in which conservative groups were unfairly targeted. At the top of the morning show, co-host Norah O'Donnell wondered: "How did the IRS lose emails in the scandal targeting conservatives after the government spent millions to back up data?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the later report, fellow co-host Charlie Rose noted: "The Washington Times says congressional Republicans are blasting the IRS for losing some of Lois Lerner's emails.... the controversy that started last year is erupting again." Correspondent Nancy Cordes reported: "Republican lawmakers, as you can imagine, are furious. They say the IRS has been promising to get them these emails for a year, and now suddenly says that Lois Lerner's computer crashed way back in 2011."
CBS Evening News was the only Big Three evening newscast on Wednesday to report that the FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the V.A. scandal. Neither ABC's World News nor NBC Nightly News covered this latest development in the ongoing controversy. Instead, both programs devoted air time to the 20th anniversary of O.J. Simpson's slow-speed run from the police, after the murder of his wife and her friend.
Anchor Scott Pelley gave an 18-second news brief on the federal agency's new probe into the cover-up of long patient wait times at the Department of Veterans Affairs: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell questioned Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday's CBS This Morning over the increase in the number of children illegally entering the U.S., and whether immigration reform is going to be revived in Congress. Rose spotlighted that Rubio received "some political pushback" on the immigration issue, and wondered, "When will we see thorough immigration reform?"
The PBS veteran also noted that the Florida politician is a "leading critic of the V.A. health system," but oddly didn't ask a question about the ongoing scandal. Instead, he ran to Hillary Clinton's defense on the extent of her responsibility for the security lapses leading up the September 11, 2012 Islamist attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
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.
NBC's Brian Williams failing to bring up the VA scandal in his D-Day interview with President Obama was more than a simple "omission," Media Research Center president Brent Bozell told Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto this afternoon on his Your World program.
"This was deliberate. There is no way on God's good Earth that NBC didn't feel obligated to bring it up but chose not to bring it up," Bozell noted, adding that it fits a larger pattern the liberal media have of making unfavorable-to-Obama storylines disappear from sight [watch the interview in its totality below the page break]:
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:
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]
On Tuesday's CNN Tonight, Don Lemon hounded conservative author Dr. Ben Carson over his October 2013 likening of ObamaCare to slavery and his recent blunt remarks about the V.A. scandal. Lemon acted as an apologist for the President and wondered, "How can you compare a health care program to the brutal oppression and abuse of black people in this country?"
The anchor later asked, "Are you saying the President and this administration don't have Americans' best interests at heart because they're trying to get people health coverage?" He also accused the neurosurgeon of needlessly injecting inflammatory language into politics: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
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.
Establishment press outfits have an annoying and in my view fundamentally deceptive tendency to make the content of news reports disappear once they have been "updated" with new information. The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is one of this technique's most egregious practitioners.
There's really no good reason for this practice. Storage is cheap. But far more important, so is leaving tracks for the sake of the historical record. In the past 48 hours, AP has virtually deep-sixed a particularly damning incident involving Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he crowed in front of U.S. troops about Bowe Bergdahl's release.
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):
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.
On her Friday 12 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell joined fellow media liberals Stephen Colbert and Chris Matthews in labeling the VA scandal the first real scandal of the Obama administration: "...this is the biggest political problem that the President has faced. This is far more serious than a lot of so-called scandals that have popped up from time to time in the last couple of months." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
USA Today's Susan Page affirmed: "I totally agree with you, this is much more perilous for the President politically. Benghazi, they can dismiss that as a partisan battle. The Affordable Care Act, they can argue, 'This is actually going to work pretty well, just give us a little more time.'"
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):
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 early May, CBS's morning and evening newscasts spotlighted congressional Democrats' vehement opposition to the formation of a select committee to investigate the September 11, 2012 Islamist attacks on the U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya during 10 minutes and 14 seconds of reporting.
However, when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named five Democrats to the committee on Wednesday, the CBS news programs minimized their coverage of the development. Wednesday's CBS Evening Newsset aside 23 seconds to the story, while Norah O'Donnell gave a 14-second news brief on Thursday's CBS This Morning about the story: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
At the top of her 12 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show on Thursday, host Andrea Mitchell proclaimed: "The Benghazi dozen, five Democrats now agreeing to join seven Republican inquisitors after failing to block the new Benghazi probe. Is it a witch hunt or a truth squad?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In an interview that followed with Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, Mitchell wondered why Democrats would bother being part of the select committee investigating the scandal: "...why the decision by your caucus – and a divided caucus it was – you had your microphone cut off by [House Oversight Committee Chairman] Daryl Issa....you and others, I think, were against playing a role in what could be, you know, a real witch hunt, according to you....Why even play the game?"
A day after President Obama finally reacted to the Veteran's Affair scandal after weeks of silence, NBC's Today could only manage a couple news briefs on the development, totaling forty-seven seconds. Meanwhile, the morning show devoted one minute and nineteen seconds to First Daughter Malia Obama learning to drive this summer.
ABC's Good Morning America at least provided a full report on the VA scandal, but edited out any criticism of Obama. On Wednesday's World News, correspondent Jim Avila included a soundbite from a family member of a veteran who died waiting for care who accused the President of "lying" about the scandal. However, that clip vanished from Avila's GMA report Thursday morning.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews seems determined to kill the idea that unlike the Veterans Administration scandal, past Obama scandals such as the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups are not in fact legitimate issues to investigate.
Appearing on his nightly Hardball program on Wednesday, May 21, Matthews declared “For the first time, President Obama speaks out about the VA scandal and this is no phony IRS or Benghazi nonsense, this is the real deal.” [See video below.]
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):