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Tag Archives: the press

IRS Superhero Lois Lame

You don’t hear much about it in the liberal branch of mainstream media – that is, most of it – but the investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups is continuing, and progress is being made.

The Wall Street Journal today reports that the House Ways and Means Committee has dug up emails between Lois Lerner – who took the Fifth, and possibly for good reason – and her staff that raise doubts about claims this was a non-political rogue operation done out of Cincinnati:

In a February 2011 email, Ms. Lerner advised her staff—including then Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz—that a Tea Party matter is “very dangerous,” and is something “Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on.” Ms. Lerner adds, “Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”

Earlier this summer, IRS lawyer Carter Hull, who oversaw the review of many Tea Party cases and questionnaires, testified that his oversight began in April 2010. Tea party cases under review are “being supervised by Chip Hull at each step,” Ms. Paz wrote to Ms. Lerner in a February 2011 email. “He reviews info from TPs, correspondence to TPs etc. No decisions are going out of Cincy until we go all the way through the process with the c3 and c4 cases here.” TP stands for Tea Party, and she means 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups.

Lerner, surprise surprise, appears to be a Democrat, as you will see in the excerpt below. What’s disturbing is that she casually shares this information with a staffer – they are supposed to be working together as nonpartisans – under the clear assumption that her aide is a Democrat too.

On July 10, 2012 then Lerner-adviser Sharon Light emailed Ms. Lerner a National Public Radio story on how outside money was making it hard for Democrats to hold their Senate majority.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had complained to the Federal Election Commission that conservative groups like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity should be treated as political committees, rather than 501(c)(4)s, which are tax-exempt social welfare groups that do not have to disclose their donors.

“Perhaps the FEC will save the day,” Ms. Lerner wrote back later that morning.

Were this the Bush administration, of course, the press, despite its hobbled financial state, would be all over the story and steaming with outrage. It would be unearthing this stuff before the lumbering Congressional committee could find it.

But the press would rather spin its wheels writing about a presidential contest that won’t occur for another three years than investigate the Sage from Hawaii who came to Washington to do good.

Biden Aides Censoring the Press

Aides to Vice President Biden edited press pool reports during Vice President Biden’s two day trip to Virginia this week, an unheard-of practice that amounts to censorship of the press.

The pool reports are entirely the property of the press. They are written by reporters who are on hand at presidential or vice presidential events where access for the press corps is limited. The reports inform other reporters who were excluded from the event about what happened, and those reporters then use the information in their stories.

As a convenience, pool reports are sent via the White House to reporters on the White House press list. The White House has nothing to do with the reports other than serving as a conduit to get the information out to reporters. For vice presidential or presidential aides to edit the reports is no different than if they had edited a story written by a reporter.

I’ve covered the White House for 15 years, and I’ve never heard of aides to the vice president or president touching the reports, except perhaps to helpfully suggest a change to a grammatical or spelling error.

Here’s a discussion about the pool report editing by Jonathan Martin of Politico, who wrote about the practice, NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd, and Washington Post political reporter Chris Cilizza.

Reporter Interrupts Obama; Earth Continues to Rotate

The Daily Caller White House reporter Neil Munro interrupted President Obama today in the Rose Garden as Obama was describing his new immigration policy.

This is a pretty big breach of protocol. I’ve actually never seen anyone do this. But Munro, who asked about the effect of Obama’s policy on American workers, says he thought Obama was finishing and did not mean to interrupt him.

Neil’s explanation makes sense. Obama almost never takes questions after making statements, and the only conceivable chance you have to get one answered is to ask it at the moment he has finished, just before he starts to walk away. As you’ll notice below, Munro can be heard jumping in just after Obama completes a sentence. The president has a hint of finality in his tone.

Here’s the exchange from a couple of other angles.

The Daily Caller, a conservative news website, issued some statements after the exchange.

Neil Munro, White House Correspondent: “I always go to the White House prepared with questions for our president. I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States. I know he rarely takes questions before walking away from the podium. When I asked the question as he finished his speech, he turned his back on the many reporters, and walked away while I and at least one other reporter asked questions.”

Tucker Carlson, Editor-in-Chief: “I don’t remember Diane Sawyer scolding her colleague Sam Donaldson for heckling President Reagan. And she shouldn’t have. A reporter’s job is to ask questions and get answers. Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don’t want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story. We’re proud of Neil Munro.”

Neil Patel, Publisher: “The President today announced a very controversial policy and does not want to answer tough questions about it.  Neil Munro is a veteran Washington reporter who today tried his best to time his question to be first as the President was wrapping up his remarks.  He in no way meant to heckle the President of the United States.”

Patel makes an excellent point. This policy was announced on Friday morning, on a day when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney chose not to brief. And Obama wasn’t taking any questions. Instead, the White House staged a briefing about next week’s meeting of the G20.  So there was no chance to ask anyone to explain a controversial policy in a public forum, and there won’t be until next week.

This was by design. Munro’s idea was to breach the contrived silence and allow Americans to see the policy explained.

Notice how poorly Obama handled the whole thing. Just the kind of peevishness George W. Bush used to get zinged for.

Really, this is hardly the end of the world.

I can remember once waiting for Bush to appear alongside the prime minister of India to make some statements. As they came to their lecterns, the Indian press immediately erupted in a cacophony of uninvited questions for the Indian leader, like flock of hysterical geese. Our uptight press corps stood stone faced.

At first I was appalled by the Indians’ behavior. And then it occurred to me: they get democracy better than we do.

Carney to Reporters: “Do Your Jobs and Report on Context!”

White House press Secretary Jay Carney today lectured reporters how to do their jobs, suggesting they had failed to place in the proper context President’s Obama’s remarks Friday about the private sector “doing fine.” Carney was answering a question by Ben Feller of the Associated Press, not normally known as a bomb thrower. This testiness… Continue Reading

Obama Ditches the Press

In a striking breach of protocol, President Obama today abandoned the press, and his whereabouts were unknown for a some period of time. According to the pool report, Obama left the Andrews Air Force Base golf course without the press vans that accompany him everywhere. The vans proceeded back to the White House on their… Continue Reading

Romney Scores Big Win; Press Fails to Notice

Mitt Romney won a crushing victory Tuesday, winning twice as many states as Rick Santorum and more that two and half times as many delegates, but his triumph is being portrayed in headlines across the nation as sign of weakness and failure. According to the Wall Street Journal, Romney picked up 211 delegates while taking… Continue Reading

Article on Perry Shows Bias That Will Plague the GOP

I do love journalism. It’s my chosen profession. And despite the condemnation on the right of the mainstream media, I think many regular reporters do excellent work. But a liberal bias exists. And conservatives are right to be angry about it, and their hostility to the press is understandable. While most reporters I know try… Continue Reading

White House May Limit Despised Paper’s Access

The openness administration says it has the right to limit the access of the Boston Herald to the press pool covering President Obama’s trip to the city today because it regards its reporting as unfair, the Herald writes. From today’s Herald piece: “I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering… Continue Reading

How the White House Bullies the Press

President Obama’s conference on bullying Thursday was deeply ironic to some in the White House press corps. That’s because every reporter who regularly covers the place knows that President Obama’s staff has a policy – an actual, pre-conceived policy – of bullying. It’s a tactic that amount to no less than suppression of speech. By… Continue Reading