President Obama’s press office bullies are in high gear, a sure sign that there are legs to the story about Attorney General Eric Holder’s potential perjury before the House Judiciary Committee.
CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson is doggedly pursuing the case, reporting that Holder knew about the Fast and Furious operation well before he said he did under oath last May, when he testified to the panel he’d just learned of it “over the last few weeks.” In fact, it appears, he was told about Fast and Furious in 2010.
A Justice Department spokeswoman and White House spokesman launched at Attkisson what few people realize is a routine Obama administration tactic – attempt to quash good journalism that’s bad for Obama by intimidating reporters. The idea, as I’ve reported before, is to get inside a reporter’s head and make them know that if they write something the White House doesn’t like, they’ll have to deal with abuse.
Ultimately, it’s suppression of speech, by the openness administration. I believe Obama is fully aware of the tactic.
In this case, they attacked Attkisson with the type of manufactured anger and foul language that many White House reporters will tell you is routine. I guess she was shocked, since she’s on the investigative beat and is not regularly in touch with the White House.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview in which she revealed the abuse to radio talk show host Laura Ingraham.
INGRAHAM: So they were literally screaming at you?
ATTKISSON: Yes. Well, the DOJ woman was just yelling at me. A guy from the White House-
INGRAHAM: Who was it?
ATTKISSON: On Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me-
INGRAHAM: Who was the person? Who was the person at Justice screaming?
ATTKISSON: Eric Schultz- oh, the person screaming was [DOJ spokeswoman] Tracy Schmaler. She was yelling, not screaming-
INGRAHAM: Oh, really?
ATKISSON: And the person who screamed at me was Eric Schultz at the White House.
ATTKISSON: They will tell you that I’m the only reporter- as they told me- that is not reasonable. They say ‘The Washington Post’ is reasonable, the ‘LA Times’ is reasonable, ‘The New York Times’ is reasonable- I’m the only one who thinks this is a story, and they think I’m unfair and biased by pursuing it. And my side of the story is- and I never knew where this story was going when I talked to those whistle-blowers back in January and February- and I didn’t care where it went. I’m just, sort of, digging away and going where it leads. But I’m sure they take it very personally, because it’s very important- they have very important implications.
Such tactics as this were rare in both the Clinton and Bush White Houses.
These Obama flacks are not just reacting with visceral anger to the story. They are specifically trained and encouraged to do this. Most of them are actually quite nice to be around when they’re not in Kill the Story Mode. Though it does take a certain type of person to pull this off.
Let’s hope it doesn’t chill her reporting. I’ve been on the receiving end of it several times when I was a mainstream press White House reporter, before I started this blog. It’s not pleasant, but I understood it was just a tactic. I was only outraged that aides to the president of the United States were trying to suppress speech.
If Ms. Attkisson understands it’s nothing more than a tool being used against her, it shouldn’t affect her. Anyway, her Facebook profile says she’s a third-degree black belt in TaeKwonDo, so I doubt she’ll be intimidated by the relative ninnies in the press office.
It should only affect her in that she should understand there’s a good reason they’re doing it: she’s onto something big and doing it in a way that scares them. The higher the volume of the screaming and the more sickening the language, the closer she’s getting.