Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 16, 2008

DAMNED IF YOU DO.... In June, political reporter Jonathan Weisman noted, "The great irony is that [Barack Obama] is much more white than black, beyond skin color." A month later, Weisman took an Obama quote, second hand and out of context, to make a wildly misleading claim.

Today, Weisman reports on the Obama transition office's decision to honor Patrick Fitzgerald's request on the release of a list of contacts with Rod Blagojevich's office.

Robert Luskin, a Washington white-collar defense lawyer who knows Mr. Fitzgerald well, said he doesn't doubt the prosecutor would have asked that Obama officials keep quiet until his investigation is further along. That is to prevent witnesses from tailoring their stories to what they learn others are saying. But, he said, Mr. Obama and his aides don't have to comply. They are using the prosecutor as a "fig leaf" to avoid answering questions just now, Mr. Luskin said. They could just as easily have decided that assuring the public about their actions is more important than acceding to the prosecutor's request.

I see. So, yesterday the AP suggests Obama is trying to bury embarrassing news by listening to Fitzgerald and federal prosecutors, and today, the Wall Street Journal suggests Obama could have "easily" ignored the wishes of law enforcement officials altogether, and "reassured" the public this week, instead of next week.

The media's drive to make Obama look bad as part of the Blagojevich mess is getting kind of silly.

Jamison Foser explained very well why, if we follow Weisman's logic, Obama is wrong no matter what he does.

If Obama ignored Fitzgerald's request and released the findings anyway, the Wall Street Journal -- and the rest of the media -- would be full of stories about Obama deliberately undermining Fitzgerald's investigation. They'd be speculating breathlessly about why Obama would undermine the investigation, and claiming that it proves he has something to hide.

And that's the entire point of Weisman's article -- that Obama could have blown off Fitzgerald's request.

NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker insisted this morning that reporters covering Obama are "going to have to get tougher." At this point, I'd settle for smarter.

Steve Benen 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

As expected, the courtesy that the "Liberal" media extended to the Bush administration, where the President and his staff can bullshit freely and don't have to actually answer questions, has ended. It's like clockwork. In fact, I just set my watch by it.

Posted by: Chief Angry Cloud on December 16, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The MSM feels that they have to set the tone and standard for cooperation, not the candidate, especially early in the Presidency. This is now a pissing contest, or to shift the metaphor to a different bodily function, a testosterone contest. How dare someone else but the media decide when and how to answer their questions? Don't emasculate our manly men!!

Posted by: bruce on December 16, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you. I couldn't agree more. Talk about a story where there is none. So far as I can see, Obama is doing everything and then some to comply with Fitgerald's request. I don't see anything he could or should do differently.

He has, as Shearer sensitively noted on Maddow's show last night: "A growing pile of crap (unbelievably difficult issues to tackle) collecting on his desk before he even takes office. (Many thanks to Bush/Cheney). And next to that pile is this 'thing called hope', Shearer added. Whew. What a combo. Give Obama a break! I think he's doing an amazing job so far!

Reporters' demands that Obama is being evasive or that he needs to come forward with details NOW is more a statement of where they are coming from (bored, looking for a juicy story, narrow-minded) then what is the appropriate, ethical and wise action.

Sheez--he hasn't even taken office yet, he's still trying to put his team together-- and they're already looking (inventing) for trouble. Is this all they know to do?!

Posted by: Joanne on December 16, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

wasn't Luskin karl rove's lawyer in the plame affair?

Posted by: tony on December 16, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "At this point, I'd settle for smarter."

You're going to have to settle for relentless vicious bogus attacks against Obama by the corporate media, because that's what you're going to get.

Obama is a populist Democratic president who intends to govern in the public interest rather than the corporate interest. Why, he and the new Democratic Congress might even restore some semblance of progressive taxation, returning taxes on the ultra-rich to their Clinton-era levels -- which of course was a time when the after-tax income of the rich rose faster than that of any other sector. But any move to "spread the wealth" is unacceptable to America's corporate oligarchy. They don't want to own and control almost everything -- they want it all.

From the point of view of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. (a.k.a. "the top one percent", a.k.a. "Bush's base"), that means Obama must be destroyed.

And the so-called "mainstream" corporate-owned mass media will work in close coordination with the openly partisan Republican right-wing extremist corporate-owned media towards that end for the next four to eight years.

You can count on it.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 16, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

After 8 yrs of the Shrub, it passes the media's comprehension that someone in a president's position might, actually, you know... be *law abiding*.

And what Chief Angry Cloud said. when it comes to Dems, it's always "What do you mean, there's no shit??? We've been making the stink for all we're worth..."

Posted by: exlibra on December 16, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

He should call a press conference and hand out ballots to the reporters.

"Check either the box marked 'Do not interfere with the investigation' or 'Release the information to us now' then pass them back..."

Posted by: Forrest on December 16, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Jonathan Weisman is a right-wing enabling hack whose repeated stenography for Republicans happens mostly because he's a lazy journalist. Maybe it was a snow-day and he stayed home and is just regurgitating Rove's talking points via email.

Weisman's real crime is that when he applies himself he's a capable writer and an ok journalist. As it is, he's lazy and all too willing to serve the powers that be instead of acting as the journalist he pretends to be (and is presumably paid to be).

http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/4/2/111531/1404
http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2008/09/john-mccain-d-5.html

Posted by: News Reference on December 16, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Is the perennial campaign a creation of the media? If so, it is one way they can create a lot of smoke with little work.

Posted by: lou on December 16, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Foser nailed it. This what we need to expect from conservatives. They will criticize Obama no matter what he does. Hell, they probably have two opinions written before Obama even makes a decision, and just go with the one that works against the decision Obama makes. Obama would be wise to ignore them and just worry about making the right decisions. In this case, he did. It's better to err on the side of cooperating with Federal investigators. It's better not to intimidate those guys before you need to.

Posted by: fostert on December 16, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican party is more and more resembling the Pharisees of the New Testament. For years they've been putting on pretenses they're the ones who uphold Christian values. THEY are the gate keepers to God. Now that their power is being threatened, they're desperate to disparage and/or set traps.

This reminds me of the New Testament story about the Pharisees setting a trap for Christ by asking him if Jews should give tribute to Caesar. If he answered yes, they'd accuse him of heresy for honoring a man instead of God. If he answered no, they'd accuse him of not paying taxes and rebellion and have the Romans throw him in prison.

And no, I don't think that Obama or any other Democrat is Jesus. Democrats just happen to be in the way of the modern day Pharisees.

Posted by: palinoscopy on December 16, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Also note that Luskin was NOT the only lawyer Wiseman quoted. Also note that Jameson Foser didn't mention that, either.

Who's irony, or hypocrisy, is being gored?

Mainstream "liberal" bloggers, as well as the conservative blogosphere?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 16, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

At least the musicians on the Titanic knew the ship was going down. These guys don't seem to have a clue.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on December 16, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

What I said in my previous posts aside, there are other concerns with the story that Steve didn't note.

First, does it really take three reporters to do a story that brief? One could argue from stuff like this that national-level newspapers and mags can, indeed, trim more editorial fat.

Second, and of more concern, Steno Sue Schmidt is one of the other two reporters.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 16, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

"And no, I don't think that Obama or any other Democrat is Jesus."

I'll agree with that. But from a statistical standpoint, there are probably a handful of people of Jesus's caliber walking the earth right now. If you assume that someone like Jesus occurs in a certain amount of births (1 in 200 million), then we'd expect about 32 Jesus's now. I chose 200 million because that was the world's population at the time. A solid portion would be in India and China, but they'd be dispersed around Europe, Africa, and the Americas as well. We'd expect one Jesus in the US. So who is that Jesus? It's probably some black woman who's been working as a nurse in rural South Carolina for the past 50 years. But who knows? Of course, if you think Jesus is unique, the statistics don't matter. But I don't think that. There can be many great people.

I happen to be a Buddhist, but I don't think Jesus is any lesser of a man than the Buddha. And the Buddha wasn't even the only Buddha. And Avalokiteshvara was greater than than any of the Buddhas. He's probably working as some doctor in rural India. Among other things. It's said he reincarnates himself a thousand times at once to help people more efficiently. One of those reincarnations is said to be the Dalai Lama, but that leaves another 999. There might be one near you!

Posted by: fostert on December 16, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

"And Avalokiteshvara was greater than than any of the Buddhas"

I should clarify that and note that Avalokiteshvara was a Bodhisattva, not a Buddha.

Posted by: fostert on December 16, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

I swear...should we just start the Obama impeachment trials now, before Obama even gets into office, to satisfy this seeming conservative media lust to dismantle and destroy everything; both parties, everyone's economy, the planet and any hope for peace?

We already have the conservatives poised and ready to create issues and problems that don't exist, now the media is going to facilitate them in this hell-bent quest to crush any hope of a better America.

Guess this internal self-destruct stands for the new brand of US patriotism these days.

Well, I guess that is what the world deserves because we "didn't give Bush a chance". We don't deserve hope, we don't deserve peace, we don't deserve freedom. Isn't that what the right and its media is telling us, starting now?

Posted by: Zli on December 16, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Obama is wrong no matter what he does, because it's not about him being right or wrong; it's about destroying the image of Obama. That's it.

Posted by: JWK on December 16, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Don't emasculate our manly men!!"

Too late. The Bush administration cut their balls off years ago. These palace eunuchs are hoping to save some shred of their integrity by tearing down a politician who ran promising to fix the mess that they abetted for the last eight years, and the idea that their shallow cynicism might no longer be relevant scares the hell out of them, and they are more concerned about their relevance than the good of the country.

Posted by: brewmn on December 17, 2008 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

It's time to thank Mr. Weisman for his herculean efforts in disproving the ancient anti-Semitic slur that all Jews are really smart.

Weisman is actually a well-known enabler of the Jewish right wing in Israel, the Americans in the West Bank who were recently accused in Ha'aretz of conducting pogroms in Hebron, where (secular) Jewish journalists had to step between these goose-stepping little Crown Height rejects of the Kach Krazies in their attempt to burn down a home with people inside (who they were preventing leaving).

Who was it who said it's impossible for a Jew to be a Nazi? Weisman is Exhibit A of the falsity of that claim.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 17, 2008 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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