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Chris Wallace Helps Further Rep. Darrell Issa’s Fast And Furious Witch Hunt

Reported by Ellen - October 11, 2011 -

Let me start by saying that I think the Fast and Furious gunrunning scheme of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms department should be investigated. But any media outlet worth its salt would keep a careful eye on any investigation overseen by the hyper-partisan, ethically challenged, and criminally suspect Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa. Not Fox News, of course. They’re so breathlessly credulous about Issa’s investigation the two might as well be working hand-in-hand. Oh, wait, maybe they are. On Sunday (10/9/11), Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace made some moves to look fair and objective but Wallace’s focus was in the same place as Issa’s: Eric Holder. But if Fox News cares so much about mistakes in government costing American lives, where’s its interest in how we got into a war based on faulty intelligence?

As Wallace explained at the outset of the interview, which just happened to be the top story of the show, Fast and Furious was a sting operation gone wrong in which ATF agents attempted to track illegal Mexican gun running but with the result that hundreds of guns wound up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members. Two of those guns were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Inexcusable, yes. But the fact that Fox News is more interested in making the story about Attorney General Eric Holder than in what actually happened is quite telling. Lately, Fox has been focused on when Holder found out about this program, and whether or not that was before he claimed to have learned about it in testimony to Congress. Funny, but that’s exactly what Issa is interested in, too.

Wallace asked for no details about the actual sting operation but launched into Issa’s confrontation with Holder in a Congressional hearing, which just so happens to be the basis of Issa’s and other Republican accusations that Holder misled Congress and perjured himself. “Congressman, I understand that you are going to issue a new set of subpoenas to the Attorney General this week. About what?” Wallace asked.

That opened the door for Issa to catalog his suspicions about Holder, of course. “Why are they denying knowing about something that they were briefed on?” Issa asked, effectively pronouncing Holder guilty.

Issa claimed that “the American people want to know how did it happen” but all Issa (and Wallace) seemed to care about is what could they pin on Holder and the Obama administration.

To be fair, Issa did offer a bit of substance about the program and what happened but Wallace ended that by asking, “Specifically, what are your subpoenas about?"

“We want to know what did they know and when did they know it,” Issa said, with what was surely a deliberate reference to Watergate. Then, further suggesting Watergate was on his mind, he added, “But more importantly, we have to understand at what level did the authorization really come.”

During the interview, Fox posted some details of Issa’s resume on the bottom of the screen. But the “we report, you decide” network somehow left out Issa’s multiple arrests (including car theft) and accusations of arson by his associates.

Wallace made a pro forma effort to offer some of Holder’s pushback, that he didn’t know about the program before he said he did.

Issa responded by saying that if that was the case, it raised questions about Holder’s competence.

Wallace also noted that there are reports that Issa had been briefed in April 2010 about the details of Fast and Furious and had not objected.

The Washington Post reported:

At the briefing last year, bureau officials laid out for Issa and other members of Congress from both parties details of several ATF investigations, including Fast and Furious, the sources said. For that program, the briefing covered how many guns had been bought by “straw purchasers,” the types of guns and how much money had been spent, said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the briefing was not public.

Issa claimed he was not briefed on this information, which Wallace took at face value, though he did suggest that if Issa hadn’t known then about the program, maybe Holder didn’t either. But the larger point, that Wallace seemed to miss, was that Issa may well have been just fine with the same program he's so up in arms against (pardon the pun) now.

Wallace also didn’t get around to challenging Issa about the over-the-top inflammatory suggestion by another House Republican who essentially accused Holder of being an accessory to murder. In fact, Issa went on to suggest just that in his own words – which went unchallenged by Wallace.

Issa said, “This investigation is not about an operation that was supposed to trace guns. This is about Justice Department knowing – and this is where the American people have a right to know more – knowing that these guns were deliberately intended to end up in the hands of the drug cartels without any kind of traceability except if you find a gun at the scene of the crime.”

Then Issa moved in for the political kill. “That is the reason that this is a felony-stupid – and I use the word “felony” deliberately – program. This should be criminal to let criminals have thousands of deadly weapons.”

Wallace pointed out that Holder said that the Bush administration had run a similar program. But again, Wallace took Issa at his word when he said the other program had been run properly. Rather than ask for more details of comparison, Wallace chose to hone in on some more (unfavorable) details about Holder and asked whether Issa would join Republican colleagues in calling for a special prosecutor or for Holder’s resignation.

That opened the door for Issa to take the next step – use the whole scandal to attack the president. “I’ve always taken the tack that the president picks the people he has full confidence in… Our investigation… has to get to the bottom of this, sooner not later.”

And then it was time to move on to the other Fox News Holder-witch-hunt vehicle, Solyndra.

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