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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 will get him nowhere with the press, which is still deeply in love with President Obama but which can be convinced to start toughening its coverage of the president if it feels insulted enough.

Feller’s question was predicated on the obvious notion that this is just the type of statement the White House would seize upon and use to attack an opponent.

In fact, that’s exactly what the Obama campaign did in 2008.

Carney, whose job as press secretary is specifically to distort reality by creating false contexts, was promoting the White House line that somehow the other things Obama said in his remarks Friday change the very clear meaning of something he said twice, which was that the private sector is okay.

Obama’s point was not at all to say, as the smoke being blown up by the White House means to suggest, that it is only doing fine in comparison to the public sector. What Obama was trying to do was highlight the number of jobs that have been created by the private sector and carve that out as a “good news” message designed to make people think that businesses under Obama are doing quite well with respect to hiring.

HIS WHOLE POINT WAS TO SAY THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS DOING FINE. He specifically did not say “compared to the public sector,” because that would have diluted his message.

Of course, the most lefty of Obama’s allies in the media have begun parroting the the “context” defense.

The more the White House tries to explain this and reverse it, the worse it will be for them. “I was taken out of context” is about the oldest excuse in the Book of Excuses. They need to take the hit and move on.

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 own.

From the pool report:

The pool does not know first hand when the president left the base, what route he took, or when he arrived at the White House. We were told that he arrived at 5:58 pm and went to the residence.

The White House told the press pool that the president had left at about ten minutes before the pool, which departed at 5:45 pm. The pool arrived back at the White House at 6:13 pm.

Sometimes the vans must play catchup to the president if he gets in his car ahead of them, but the pooler reported that the vans in this case had been waiting for half an hour.

The White House has offered no explanation as of yet.

Video || Obama’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner remarks

I thought he was pretty good. Maybe I had had too much to drink at that point. But I thought he was funny.

Interesting to me that he is so aware of the criticisms leveled at him. But clearly, he dismisses it or doesn’t care.

I also recoiled at all the pious stuff at the end about the important role of the press. At this point, some of the scotch began to make its way up toward my mouth.

I really can’t abide Obama’s public embrace of freedom of the press while his staff behind the scenes routinely tries to bully reporters out of doing legitimate stories that the White House thinks are bad for the president. In a way previous White Houses have not, this press office works to suppress the news. And Obama is aware of it. So Mr. President, save the compliments for the Fourth Estate, please.

So what did you think??

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 six states, bringing his total delegate count to 415. Santorum won in three states and added only 84 delegates to bring his total to 176.

Romney scored a huge upset in Ohio, coming from way back to take a politically diverse state that is representative of the type of place he’ll need to win to beat President Obama.

Romney is being widely panned by the press for an “inability to close the deal,” and yet the description seems far more apt for Santorum, who now has blown huge leads in the most critical contests of recent weeks, Ohio and Michigan. If anything, the more voters look at Santorum, the more concerned they become and less likely they are to sign on the dotted line.

Worse for Santorum, he will continue for the foreseeable future to split the most conservative votes with Newt Gingrich – who stays in after winning Georgia – and with Ron Paul, who would remain in the race until 2018 if he could. And Romney has a war chest that will swamp Santorum in the upcoming air wars for closely contested states.

And yet, despite all the evidence Romney largely vanquished his rivals Tuesday night, here are some of the headlines this morning:

Wall Street Journal: Romney Ekes Past Santorum in Ohio

New York Times: With No Knockout Punch, a Bruising Battle Plods On

Los Angeles Times: Battle in Ohio Reinforces GOP Divide; Romney’s Slim Victory Leaves Race Uncertain

USA Today: Romney, Santorum See Momentum

CNN: No Knockout Blow for Romney

Reuters: Romney Narrowly Wins Ohio, Fails to Knock Out Santorum

You get the idea.

There are several reasons for this.

All reporting is now sports reporting. Reporters love a battle and they love to go on TV and rave about how exciting everything is. And editors seek a bracing and never-ending storyline because it draws readers and ultimately pleases their corporate bosses, who want to sell papers and generate pageviews.

The headline “Romney Scores Six Wins and Continues Methodical Drive Toward Nomination” is just not going to drive eyeballs to your story.

And reporters also tend to be moderate to liberal. Bloodletting among Republicans at some level is agreeable to many of them. I have to believe that if this was Obama instead of Romney, the stories would be about the growing inevitability of Obama’s nomination.

That Romney is in all likelihood on the march toward nomination will probably soon become too apparent for any serious journalist to deny. At that point, for the reasons listed above, we will begin to hear feverish talk about the prospects for a third party candidacy.

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 to surpress their political opinions and do honest work, the bias seeps out.

Often, it’s in the selection of stories.

If a Republican blocks or gets rid of a government regulation, you will see lots of copy about how it will harm people or the environment. If a Democrat establishes a new regulation, you need to look hard for articles about jobs lost or the adverse effects on business.

And sometimes, mainstream reporters don’t even seem to try to surpress their viewpoint.

How else to explain this article by Washington Post reporter Michael Fletcher about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, which appeared yesterday at the top of the Post website, It starts with a premise that is demonstrably untrue – that “much” of the employment growth in Texas under Rick Perry is due to government jobs – and cherry picks misleading evidence to support this false notion.

This is the type of thing Republicans will be up against during the campaign. Usually it will be less ham-handed.

Take a look at the first few paragraphs of the story.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has leapfrogged to the top tier of Republican presidential candidates largely on the strength of one compelling fact: During more than a decade as governor, his state created more than 1 million jobs, while the nation as a whole lost 1.4 million jobs.

Perry says the “Texas miracle” rests on conservative pillars that he would bring to the White House: minimal regulation and government, low taxes and a determination to limit the reach of Uncle Sam.

What he does not say is that much of that job growth has come because of government, not in spite of it.

With a young and fast-growing population, a large and expanding military presence and an influx of federal stimulus money, the number of government jobs in Texas has grown at more than double the rate of private-sector employment during Perry’s tenure.

What is left out here is that about 300,000 of the more than 1 million jobs created under Perry – less than a third – are government jobs. And a significant number of these were established to service the people who were migrating into the state because of all the private sector jobs being created.

THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER WHICH LESS THAN ONE THIRD CAN BE CHARACTERIZED AS “MUCH” OF A TOTAL. It’s not “much” of it. It’s some of it. Except if you are trying to create a dramatic headline, or you are biased against your subject because they are Republican, or both.

It may be true that government jobs in Texas grew at a faster rate. But that’s starting from a smaller number. Including this phrase about percentages without also giving the raw numbers suggests that the reporter is disingenuously trying to back up his erroneous statement that “much” of the job growth is due to government jobs.

"Here, have a job."

Even the Washington Post’s own graphic  helps puts the lie to the story. It shows that during Perry’s 11 years in office, private sector jobs grew nine percent in Texas, while employment in the nation overall declined by 2 percent. That suggests a very robust private sector jobs picture in Texas.

The first analyst cited in the article by Fletcher, from the Texas-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, calls public sector employment “an ongoing driver of our job growth.” Fletcher describes the CPPP as a “a research and advocacy group in Austin.” Sounds benign, but it’s not hard to see where the group is actually coming from.

It’s run by F. Scott McGowan, who has recently penned articles supporting Obamacare and saying what a terrible mistake it was for Perry to cut taxes by $10 billion in 2006. His number two is Anne Dunkelberg, whose “activities and interests” on her Facebook page include “Barack Obama,” “Telling Dick Cheney to Shut the Hell Up,” and ” Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck?”

Reporters in Washington often shake their heads at things like conservative talk radio and Fox News. What they don’t realize is that, THEY created the conservative media, which grew up in response to articles like this one.

Those overtly biased conservative outlets will balance the less obvious but ultimately more pernicious bias – since it emerges from beneath claims of neutrality – of a mainstream media that overwhelmingly sympathizes with the goals and ideology of President Obama.

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