For more than two weeks, President Obama and his spokesmen have scoffed at the various investigations of potential wrongdoing surrounding his administration, belittling them as “phony scandals” that have “distracted” Washington. But a Fox News poll released Thursday finds that even among Democrats, Obama’s “phony scandal” is falling flat, discovering that “voters across the partisan spectrum” say Benghazi, NSA eavesdropping, the IRS targeting of conservatives, and the seizure of journalists’ phone records as serious matters.
As for the three broadcast networks, they have essentially buried the administration’s not-so-subtle (and apparently ineffective) attempt to push these scandals away. Not only did all three broadcast networks skip the Fox poll this morning, ABC and NBC have done Obama the apparent favor of never reporting his “phony scandal” mantra on either their morning or evening news broadcasts, and giving it just a passing mention on their July 28 Sunday talk shows.
Late Thursday, news broke of the State Department ordering numerous U.S. embassies across the Middle East closed on Sunday, August 4 due to terror threats from Al Qaeda. While the Big Three network evening newscasts all covered the important development that night, not one of them made any mention of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, the perpetrators of which remain at large.
By Friday morning, the networks managed to add brief mentions of Benghazi to their reporting. On NBC's Today, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell noted: "... in the aftermath of Benghazi, the State Department is not taking any chances....Amidst ongoing turmoil across the Middle East, from Cairo's Tahrir Square to the civil war in Syria, and past attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts, from Benghazi, Libya last year..."
If a Republican were ensnared in a sex scandal, do you think MSNBC would have failed to mention his party and instead featured a photo of him with a smiling Nancy Pelosi? But the "Lean Forward" network might well have hoodwinked unwary viewers this morning into thinking that Democrat Bob Filner is a Republican.
Not merely did today's Morning Joe failed to identify Filner—the San Diego mayor with the octopus hands—as a Democrat. Instead, the show featured a photo of Filner with a smiling . . . . John Boehner. Guess the MJ staff couldn't find one of former congressman Filner with fellow Californian Pelosi. H/t NB reader Ray R. View the photo and video after the jump.
"It took the networks 13 days to run a single story" on the fact that Obama-appointed IRS chief counsel William Wilkins was "getting direct reports" on the IRS's review of conservative/Tea Party applications for 501(c)(3) status, NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center (MRC) founder Brent Bozell told Blaze TV's Andrew Wilkow on the Tuesday edition of his Wilkow! program. Likewise, it took 15 days for the mainstream media to get around to covering the Obama/Holder Justice Department was "refusing to investigate any government employees who were improperly accessing tax records."
"This goes on and on and on. These are all breaking news stories that are leading to one of the largest scandals in modern American history where the most feared arm of government is completely abusing its rights, and it looks like it's coming from the Obama administration, and there's no coverage," Bozell concluded. [watch the full segment below the page break]
ABC and CBS both failed to point out San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's Democratic party affiliation on their Wednesday morning newscasts. Good Morning America devoted just one 17-second news brief to the ongoing Filner scandal. CBS This Morning didn't do much better, with two news briefs on the former congressman. NBC's Today didn't set aside any air time to the controversy.
The NBC morning show did one-up its Big Three competitors in identifying Anthony Weiner as a Democrat. Stephanie Gosk underlined the "Democratic drums are beating loudly for Anthony Weiner to step out of race for New York mayor", and noted the scandal-plagued politician's fourth-place standing among "likely Democratic primary voters". CBS This Morning and GMA merely labeled Weiner a "former congressman".
On Tuesday's All In show, MSNBC's Chris Hayes recalled that "my mouth opened" and declared that "I could not believe this was in the paper," as he recounted that liberal New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd raised questions about whether former Rep. Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, has been tolerant of her husband's behavior because of her Muslim upbringing.
Hayes recalled his bafflement during a segment devoted largely to attacking FNC's Sean Hannity and his guests for raising similar questions on his weekend special, Saving America. Notably, Rush Limbaugh was attacked on Monday's PoliticsNation by host Al Sharpton for similarly raising the topic.
Was this a case of Donny Deutsch expressing sincere sentiments—or wanting Weiner out of the way to help Hillary?
Whatever the explanation, the ad man unleashed on Huma Abedin on today's Morning Joe, saying he was "disgusted" by the spectacle of her press conference, accusing Abedin of being an "opportunist" who wants to be First Lady of New York. A much more understanding Mika Brzezinski said that Abedin's performance was "amazing," "extraordinary" and "really brave." Video after the jump.
The situations involving disgraced and relapsed former Congressman Anthony Weiner and Ben Quayle, who hasn't been in politics for about a year, are very analogous. Just ask Katie Glueck at the Politico. Oh, and the the Weiner situation is also very analogous to that of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who has returned $21,000 worth of gifts he should never have taken from a businessperson. Just ask Dana Milbank at the Washington Post.
There appears to be some kind of unwritten rule that you can't attempt to analyze a Democrats' scandalous involvement without dragging a Republican into the mix, no matter how distant or irrelevant the connection. First, let's look at Glueck with Quayle and Weiner (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Pretty much all you need to know about the current negligent media culture in Washington is summed up in two items involving the Politico's home page this morning -- one which is there, and one which isn't.
The featured story at top of the home page by Byron Tau is about infighting between "Big Marijuana" -- it seems like "Big Pot" would be a more succinct nickname -- and those who want to extend recent electoral victories in legalizing the drug. What isn't there on the home page, as confirmed in a word search, is any story with a headline or tease containing "IRS."
The establishment press's general refusal to cover clearly newsworthy developments in the Obama administration scandal involving the targeting of conservative, tea party, prolife and other groups by the Internal Revenue Service has been so negligent and blatant that several leading conservatives, including the MRC's Brent Bozell and talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, called it out in an open letter earlier this week.
Consistent with the rest of their colleagues, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, appears to have had no substantive story on the scandal since July 18 -- and that one was about primarily Democrats beating the false meme that progressive groups were supposedly targeted similarly. The AP's negligence extends to the tax agency's shocking level of non-cooperation with House Ways & Means Committee investigators, as will be seen after the jump.
Norah O'Donnell had a memory lapse on Friday's CBS This Morning, as she expressed her disgust over San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's alleged sexual harassment of women. O'Donnell exclaimed, "I know we shouldn't editorialize, but this behaving badly – it's gone overboard at this point." [audio available here; video below the jump]
The anchor apparently isn't self-aware, because she has regularly injected her personal commentary into her journalism, particularly when she interviews conservatives/Republicans. Her track record during her first several months on the CBS morning newscast:
Scott Pelley devoted a minute and a half segment to the IRS scandal on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, the first time that the Big Three newscast had mentioned the issue in a month. Pelley asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew if "any political appointee had oversight of the decisions that were made around the Tea Party applications", and reported on some of the recent developments in the scandal.
Mere hours later, Thursday's CBS This Morning didn't even cover the IRS portion of the Lew interview, but did play a clip of Pelley asking the Cabinet official about the economy.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, CNN followed NBC's narrative of connecting Huma Abedin to her "mentor" Hillary Clinton in dealing with husbands' sex scandals.
CNN repeatedly made the connection in a positive light, touting Abedin as "incredibly politically sophisticated," "intelligent," and "discerning" from her years working for Clinton. CNN insisted that Abedin would use the Clinton "playbook" to overcome her husband's scandal. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
CBS Evening News stood out among the Big Three evening newscasts on Tuesday in their failure to cover former Rep. Anthony Weiner's admission that he sent lewd text messages even after his resignation in 2011. The CBS show apparently deemed the British royal family's new baby, the doping scandal in baseball, and whale watching to be more important news items. ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News both devoted air time to the Weiner story.
The network finally reported on the latest revelations about the disgraced politician on Wednesday's CBS This Morning, but failed to point out his Democratic affiliation. Jan Crawford merely identified him as a "former U.S. congressman turned New York City mayoral candidate."
Despite devoting three segments to Anthony Weiner's latest sexually explicit photos and texts, Good Morning America on Wednesday failed to identify the New York politician as a Democrat. Instead, an ABC graphic simply called him a "mayoral candidate" for office. The previous evening's World News deemed Weiner a "former congressman" and a "mayoral candidate."
Reporter Jeff Zeleny delicately described Tuesday's bizarre press conference: "It was a real human drama when his wife stepped forward to deliver a very public testimonial." Zeleny told viewers that Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife, "is defending her man and his candidacy." In a follow-up segment, Linsey Davis focused on Abedin. A graphic declared, "Standing By Her Man: Wife Stands By Weiner in Sexting Scandal."
When on today's Morning Joe, Obama spokesman Jay Carney had the chutzpah to call the IRS mess a "phony scandal,"Joe Scarborough ripped into him, calling Carney out for using "talking points," instructing him to "answer my question" and informing Carney that "I'm not somebody you talk down to from your podium." Ouch! H/t NB reader cobokat.
Scarborough reminded Carney that he hadn't told the truth when he initially claimed that the scandal was limited to low-level employees in the IRS Cincinnati office, that it now appears that it may go at least as high as the IRS Chief Counsel, appointed by President Obama, is involved. Carney continued to slough off the scandal, claiming it was a diversion and that the President wants to focus on the economy, blah, blah, blah. Things got heated, as you'll see from the video, after the jump.
For some reason, press reports I've seen thus far dealing with revelations that disgraced former congressman and now-New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner continued "sexting" after his June 2011 resignation won't directly tell us that he didn't stop sexting -- assuming we've heard the last of this, which is by no means certain -- until November 2012 or January of this year, 4-6 months before he declared his Gotham mayoral candidacy. Additionally, he kept communicating with one of his partners, while supposedly not sexting, until April, the month before he began his run.
The four-month time frame can be inferred from the first excerpted paragraph after the jump in an Associated Press report by Jonathan Lemire (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, now a New York mayoral candidate, admitted Tuesday to sending out lewd photos of himself even after he resigned from Congress for doing so back in June of 2011.
During the previous scandal, up until Weiner's resignation, members of the media moved from casting the evidence against him as a smear job to acknowledging his mistake while imploring him to stay in Congress to mourning the "tragedy" of his downfall and resignation and insisting he was too talented to stay out of politics for long.
Would Eliot Spitzer be getting such a boost from CNN if he were a Republican? The former Democratic New York governor resigned in 2008 over a prostitution scandal, but less than three years later he snagged a prime-time show on CNN. On Wednesday night he enjoyed a nice promotion from CNN's Piers Morgan as he runs for New York City comptroller.
Morgan largely avoided Spitzer's 2008 scandal – except to use it for his "comeback" narrative. "This is all part of a comeback. You are the 'Comeback Kid.' Do you like being the 'Comeback Kid?'" he asked Spitzer. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
CBS This Morning suddenly discontinued identifying San Diego Mayor Bob Filner as a Democrat on Tuesday, after including his political affiliation in two previous reports on the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around the politician. Bill Whitaker pointed out how Filner "dismissed [the] charges...as coming from anonymous sources" and how that was "in contrast to this contrite video apology from late last week", but omitted his party ID.
Just 24 hours earlier, Whitaker reported on the morning newscast that "the city's first Democratic mayor in twenty years is embroiled in controversy and fighting for his job." On Friday, anchor Gayle King noted during a news brief that "the Democrat spent ten terms in Congress before becoming mayor less than a year ago."
On ABC's This Week yesterday, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer -- who resigned in 2008 when caught dead to rights illegally purchasing the services of prostitutes but was never prosecuted because, as announced two days after Election Day in 2008, the Department of Justice decided that "the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges" -- called the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial "a failure of justice."
Of course, Politico's Juana Summers provided none of the background yours truly just did while only referring to Spitzer as "the former Democratic governor of New York who's now a candidate for New York City comptroller." Another statement Spitzer made on the same program deserves further scrutiny, which will arrive after the jump:
Imagine if -- and you'd have to imagine it, because it never happened -- the George W. Bush administration had sent members of its Justice Department to a city where a black man charged with murder was claiming self-defense in the killing of a non-African-American for the purposes of ginning up protests against the accused. Establishment press coverage and would have been justifiably intense.
On Thursday, Judicial Watch revealed that it had obtained documents showing that "a little-known unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Community Relations Service (CRS), was deployed to Sanford, FL, following the Trayvon Martin shooting to help organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman." In other words, DOJ did to Zimmerman what I just noted Bush 43 administration never did and would never have considered doing. JW's bombshell is not news at the Associated Press or at the Politico.
For the third time in a week, ABC's Good Morning America failed to identify a politician involved in sex scandal as a Democrat. Amy Robach reported on Friday that "accusations of sexual harassment have been swirling around Mayor Bob Filner for weeks" and that the San Diego politician "apologized for what he called inappropriate behavior", but didn't include his party ID.
By contrast, Gayle King explicitly mentioned Filner's political affiliation on Friday's CBS This Morning: "The Democrat spent ten terms in Congress before becoming mayor less than a year ago. "
Thursday's CBS This Morning boosted a super PAC aimed at supporting a potential Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016, and spotlighted how Mrs. Clinton is "sticking to a speaking circuit that recently included the opening of a children's library in Arkansas bearing her name. It's not exactly a presidential library, but it may be just another baby step toward what many believe is inevitable."
Correspondent Jeff Pegues played up the "prominent endorsements from politicians and celebrities", and how the former First Lady's backers are "already building a growing campaign infrastructure, they say, whether she likes it or not."
In 2013, Barack Obama has nominated 11 ambassadors who were also huge donors to his presidential campaigns. Yet, NBC, CBS and ABC have skipped the failure of a president who vowed to "change the way Washington works" when it comes to money. As the Washington Times's Dave Boyer reported on Thursday, "Washington bundler John Phillips, who raised more than $300,000 for the president's two elections, was nominated as U.S. ambassador to Italy."
On Tuesday, Matthew Barzun was nominated to be Britain's ambassador. He raised over $500,000 for Obama in 2008. Back on February 28, 2013, CNN reporter Jessica Yellin pointed out the obvious, that people who "raised a lot of money for the campaign will be getting some top jobs." She critiqued, "For the President who said he really wants to get money out of politics, this is definitely sullying some of that brand." But where have the networks been?
A report today from Nicole Winfield at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, headlines the news that Pope Francis's revision and update of Vatican City laws "criminalizes leaks." Meanwhile, searches on relevant terms at the AP's national web site ("leaks"; "insider threat" "McClatchy"; all not in quotes) return either nothing, or nothing relevant.
AP's apparent decision thus far to ignore McClatchy's latest story on the Obama administration's unprecedented "Insider Threat Program," which requires federal employees to snitch on each other for "suspicious behavior" or face serious discipline and even prosecution, is -- well, readers can pick their own adjectives after reading excerpts from McClatchy's latest item which follow the jump.
As defenses go to the charge of having lied to the people of New York about illegal activities, Eliot Spitzer's was feeble at best. Hey, politicans lie all the time about all sorts of stuff, was the essence of Client #9-turned-Comptroller-candidate's response.
Spitzer's lame defense [he literally said: "I think we all know that politicians dissemble all the time about negotiations, on substantive issues and probably on personal issues as well"] came in response to some serious grilling by Mark Halperin on today's Morning Joe. The Spitzer segment was set up to feature Mika Brzezinski as chief inquisitor, but it was actually Halperin who subjected Spritzer to the closest scrutiny. View the video after the jump.
We’re halfway through 2013, and PBS’s Washington Week used last Friday’s episode to reflect on the past six months of D.C. politics. During the course of the reflections, moderator Gwen Ifill trotted out the oft-uttered liberal complaint about “distractions” that have impeded President Obama’s second-term agenda so far.
She lamented, “You know, the one thing that's been a common theme throughout this first six months has been distractions. The ways in which pure politics has driven what ends up happening.” [Video below the break.]
Monday's CBS This Morning twice mentioned Kristin Davis, one of Eliot Spitzer's electoral opponents, during an interview of the disgraced former New York governor, but failed to mention that she claims to be the madam who sold Spitzer the services of prostitutes. Norah O'Donnell wondered, "Did you just look at the role of comptroller and say, 'look, I'd be running against Kristin Davis. I could probably easily get elected'.
O'Donnell led the interview with the issue of the former governor's prostitution scandal, and later mentioned Davis' name, but failed to mention the possible connection. Co-anchor Gayle King also referenced Spitzer's political adversary, but omitted her former "Manhattan Madam" role.