Obama Watch

By Ken Shepherd | June 3, 2014 | 8:20 PM EDT

On his June 3 Hardball program, MSNBC's Chris Matthews expressed his disapproval of the president having broken federal law in the process of securing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release in exchange for transferring five high-level Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Qatari government custody.

Of course, it took a liberal Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) complaining about the matter to register with Matthews as a problem for the president, but all the same, the Hardball host seemed angry that President Obama violated a law which he signed into effect. The relevant transcript appears below the page break [emphasis mine; Listen to the MP3 audio here or watch the video below the page break]:

By Ken Shepherd | June 3, 2014 | 5:15 PM EDT

In order to press through with the five-for-one POW exchange to return Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, "the White House overrode an existing interagency process charged with debating the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners and dismissed long-standing Pentagon and intelligence community concerns based on Top Secret intelligence about the dangers of releasing" the five high-level Taliban detainees, Time magazine's Massimo Calabresi reported this afternoon at Time.com.

Indeed, "Obama’s move was an ultimate victory for those at the White House and the State Department who had previously argued the military should 'suck it up and salute,' says the official familiar with the debate," Calabresi reported. Appropriately, Time editors ripped that "suck it up and salute" line and made it the teaser headline on the Time.com front page [see screen capture below page break]. Aside from delving into the internal debate in the intelligence community and the administration over the release, Calabresi also reported how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was given a heads up, even as it seems everyone else in Congress on both sides of the aisle were kept in the dark [emphasis mine]:

By Tom Blumer | May 30, 2014 | 11:08 PM EDT

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):

By Connor Williams | May 30, 2014 | 4:55 PM EDT

When you’ve lost Chris Matthews, have you lost liberal America? The Hardball host stopped by for a visit on the May 30 edition of MSNBC’s NewsNation for an analysis of the resignation of VA Secretary Shinseki and the VA scandal overall.

The former Tip O’Neill staffer didn’t hold back, repeatedly hitting Obama and Shinseki for a lack of alertness regarding the scandal. Matthews was aghast at the utter lack of awareness the president has shown–not just on the VA –but on his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. He even insinuated that a lack of cognizance was a part of the president’s habitual behavior, proclaiming [audio here; video below]:

By Ken Shepherd | May 28, 2014 | 12:55 PM EDT

A group of prominent journalists -- including former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie -- met yesterday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder but walked away from the meeting disappointed that the Obama administration's top cop won't amend vague Justice Department guidelines which, they argue, make it far too easy for the administration to hound a reporter with the threat of criminal prosecution for protecting his or her sources in a leak investigation.

Yet in covering the story, Post editors shoved Paul Farhi's reporting on the matter to the front page of Style, rather than the A-section, and slapped on a yawn-inducing headline guaranteed to entice only the wonkiest of readers: "Media group, Holder meet on leak cases." "U.S. rules on warrants and subpoenas targeting reporters are challenged," noted the subheader. According to Farhi, the group of journalists want to see DOJ policy amended so that the attorney general must personally get involved in a subpoena request for a journalist's records (emphasis mine):

By Tom Blumer | May 26, 2014 | 11:49 PM EDT

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):

By Tom Blumer | May 26, 2014 | 9:04 PM EDT

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):

By Tom Blumer | May 24, 2014 | 12:51 AM EDT

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.

By Cal Thomas | May 22, 2014 | 6:28 PM EDT

PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland -- President Obama Wednesday replayed a familiar scenario when dealing with scandal, in this case delays for treatment, deaths, alleged cover-ups and other acts of malfeasance reported at Veterans Administration hospitals in the United States: first express outrage, next announce an investigation and then say he won't comment on the scandal until the results of the investigation are in, promising people will be held "accountable," if they violated the law. Good luck with that.

By Ken Shepherd | May 22, 2014 | 5:05 PM EDT

The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson reported yet another black mark against Maryland's rollout of ObamaCare. It seems the "board that oversees Maryland's troubled health insurance marketplace repeatedly violated a state law that requires such groups to fully explain their reasons for meeting behind closed doors" according to a ruling issued Tuesday by the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board.

Although the Washington Post's endorsee for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, was tasked by Gov. Martin O'Malley as his personal point man for the ObamaCare rollout, Brown's name came up a grand total of, wait for it, ZERO times in Johnson's 21-paragraph story. What's more, Johnson's story, while given front-page space on page B1 of the May 22 edition, was slapped with a boring headline that all but discouraged readers to review the story, "Closed sessions broke Md. law." By contrast, on Sunday, staff writer John Wagner treated Brown to a puffy profile in a Metro section front-pager "The Value of Service."

By Tom Blumer | May 21, 2014 | 9:27 AM EDT

During the Obama administration, the Associated Press has annually gone through the motions of noting its lack of transparency in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. In March, its coverage of 2013 FOIA results led with the following sentence: "The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data." Then everyone went back to work defending the administration against the information seekers.

Part of that defense includes mischaracterizing the legal hurdles those who file FOIA requests must overcome to get the administration to do what it is legally required to do right off the bat. Three sentences from recent coverage of Judicial Watch's attempts to pry information out of the State Department will make my point.

By Ken Shepherd | May 14, 2014 | 4:37 PM EDT

"Faith first, government second for GOP candidate," blares a teaser headline on MSNBC.com. They say that like it's a bad thing.

Of course, to MSNBC it is, when religious freedom objections stand opposed to ObamaCare, so MSNBC.com writer Morgan Whitaker sought to explain to Lean Forward partisans all the ways that Ben Sasse is supposedly a danger to civil society, including a ludicrous suggestion that his views could allow for establishment of Sharia law (excerpt below; emphasis mine):