Well, here on the East Coast, we are waiting to get slammed by Tropical Storm Andrea.
And today, Obama got slammed… by the NY Times.
I found this particularly interesting because of an article in a recent Weekly Standard, suggesting that “It’s only a matter of time before the media are back in the tank” for Obama.
Some conservatives think that the elite media are finally turning on Barack Obama and his administration.
The argument goes like this: The trio of scandals that have burst forth in the last couple of weeks—the events before, during, and after the deadly attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi; the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups; and especially the Department of Justice’s secret subpoenas of Associated Press phone records and targeting of Fox News reporter James Rosen as a potential co-conspirator in a leak investigation—will mark an inflection point. From here on out, journalists will apply far more scrutiny to President Obama. His free ride is over.
Don’t believe it.
In saying this, we don’t mean to suggest that journalists won’t ask tough questions or say critical things about the administration from time to time. But sooner or later they will—with a few impressive exceptions—revert to their ways. We are, after all, dealing with deeply ingrained habits and ideological commitments….
Journalists have been more critical of the administration in the IRS and Justice Department-press stories. But even there the criticisms of the president and his top advisers have been relatively restrained. And certainly the intensity of the coverage has been far less than if this were occurring under a Republican president.
Some of us recall the gleeful rush to judgment—the political bloodlust—that swept over the press during the investigation by Patrick Fitzgerald during the George W. Bush presidency of an incident in which there was no underlying crime and which pales in comparison to the gravity of the Benghazi scandal. (Not only did no one die in the Valerie Plame episode, but she and her husband became celebrities….)
The press at its best, Walter Lippmann wrote, “is like the beam of a searchlight that moves restlessly about, bringing one episode and then another out of darkness into vision.” But today’s media, especially on the Benghazi scandal, have attempted to take something out of vision and return it to darkness. They want this story to vanish—though journalists owe allegiance to the truth.
But when I saw today’s NY Times Editorial, I wondered: Is the Weekly Standard correct in thinking that the MSM will always be in the tank for Obama?
Or, does the NYT editorial represent a shifting of the political ground?
Within hours of the disclosure that federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.
Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability.
The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers….
A senior administration official quoted in The Times online Thursday afternoon about the Verizon order offered the lame observation that the information does not include the name of any caller, as though there would be the slightest difficulty in matching numbers to names. He said the information “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats,” because it allows the government “to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States….”
The senior administration official quoted in The Times said the executive branch internally reviews surveillance programs to ensure that they “comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties.”
That’s no longer good enough. Mr. Obama clearly had no intention of revealing this eavesdropping, just as he would not have acknowledged the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, had it not been reported in the press. Even then,it took him more than a year and a half to acknowledge the killing, and he is still keeping secret the protocol by which he makes such decisions.
We are not questioning the legality under the Patriot Act of the court order disclosed by The Guardian. But we strongly object to using that power in this manner. It is the very sort of thing against which Mr. Obama once railed, when he said in 2007 that the surveillance policy of the George W. Bush administration “puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide….”
So, is this a NYT-Obama lovers’ quarrel?
Or, is it the beginning of a bad break-up?
That remains to be seen.
But for now, let’s just savor the moment.
Update — 6/7:
via the Daily Caller: New York Times quietly changes published editorial to make it less damning of Obama