On last night’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Dobbs dismissed President Obama’s lengthy, substantive speech on national security as an attempt to change the subject and said, “Now let’s go back to what is really important.” By that, he meant the trumped-up scandals that Republicans Fox is doing its utmost to exploit against the Obama administration. And who better to help with an effort to exploit a trumped-up scandal into a full-blown, anti-Obama conspiracy theory than Monica Crowley, the pundit who blamed her decision not to eat a hamburger on President Obama?
Crowley announced her latest analysis of the Obama administration:
If you look at this from 30,000 feet and you see the Benghazi cover up, you see the Department of Justice (she made air quotes), spying on reporters and editors, when you look at the IRS scandal, it all makes perfect sense, Lou. In 2008, this president talked about “the fundamental transformation of the nation.” What is he doing? He’s assaulting the First Amendment, he’s trying to eliminate the Second Amendment, he’s assaulting the Fourth Amendment, he’s assaulting the Tenth Amendment. In every possible way, every major right the American people are afforded in the Bill of Rights he is attacking.
And yet, instead of sounding alarmed or upset or even especially concerned about such a terrible danger, she sounded nothing less than delighted for having come up with such an insight.
Video via Media Matters.
IF IT WALKS LIKE A NAZI, TALKS LIKE A NAZI, AND ACTS LIKE A NAZI….
What we’re seeing is the predictable ebb after Fox News enjoyed a brief sizzle as news viewers had their initial “Whaaaa” reaction to the stories as they broke. And this is because the stories simply don’t have enough legs to them. The IRS story may continue for a bit as it looks like there was a fair amount of internal bumbling going on, but we’re not looking at anything like the criminality that Fox News is desperately trying to allege. Even Fox News viewers have to be wondering how many times the network is going to cry wolf like this.
They tried this with Joe Sestak – except that it turns out that nothing illegal happened and the story pfftted away. They tried this with Fast & Furious and even tried to make it an election year issue – except that they badly misrepresented what happened and were unable to do anything but throw a tantrum in public. Now they want to see if they can triple stack or quadruple stack their latest attempts.
Let’s see. They played Benghazi as something about the President being weak on foreign policy and somehow allowing a terrorist attack to result in Four. Dead. Americans. And they tried to make a story out of what talking points were developed for news program appearances right afterward. Except that even their audience understood that this whole matter was completely discussed last fall – most crucially when Mitt Romney humiliated himself by trying to pull a “gotcha!” at the end of the second debate. And we all know that there were far more Americans who died in assaults like these on consulates and embassies during the George W. Bush Administration. And we know that the Benghazi assault happened in the midst of a week of complete chaos in the region as a result of the video that the right wing keeps trying to forget about. So in the end, what does Fox News have in the Benghazi story? The same emails they had six months ago, the same disproven allegations, and the same disgruntled guys who were complaining about what was happening when it was relevant. So no story here. Yet Fox continues to push it, hoping they can keep fanning it, like Joe Sestak, until a better story comes along. The most desperate form of this idea came with Chris Wallace embarassing himself last weekend by demanding to know which room the President happened to be in at each point during the night of September 11th last year, something that Bill O’Reilly somehow thinks is an important issue, for reasons only he can fathom. As Obama’s advisor pointed out, that’s irrelevant. And I think even Fox News knows that.
They’ve played the IRS story as some kind of conspiracy theory of President Obama somehow telling his guys not to allow Tea Party groups to interfere with his re-election. Riiiggght. Except that the testimony and records we’ve seen don’t show that. They show that the IRS officials were dealing with an avalanche of political groups trying to take advantage of the Citizens United ruling, and given that this was a time when the right wingers were desperate to somehow unseat Obama, there was a flood of Tea Party applications for tax exempt status. What the right wing is forgetting here is that these groups still put up plenty of commercials and gatherings to promote their cause, and many of them did in fact achieve tax-exempt status. They just didn’t like what looks like extra scrutiny, and I’d agree that this wasn’t fair. But it didn’t by any means prevent them from speaking at all, nor could it have done so. This was a money matter, and more precisely, a clerical matter. This was a discussion of sorting and filing among bureaucrats.
So the whole question about when the President found out about all the bumbling and internal reviews in the IRS is an odd one. The President doesn’t interfere with the IRS and has stated as such. His people may have started to hear about the matter, but they weren’t going to get him involved in that kind of thing as it would be like getting Donald Trump involved in the job application forms at his casino. Obviously, when President Obama found out, he was angry about it. And we’re now seeing the usual bureaucratic dance of forced resignations, stalls, suspensions, etc. That will play out over another few weeks, and that’ll be it. But the idea that somehow this turned the election is silly on its face. Ohio saw a record amount of advertising and politicking going on within its borders over the last election cycle. The Romney campaign spent a massive amount there, as did all the GOP groups. Ohio residents were DELUGED with materials. And the Tea Party groups in question still participated in the deluge. The discussion here isn’t whether they could speak – it’s about when they were able to tell their supporters they could deduct their donations.
By the way, it’s interesting to hear the right wing complain that left wingers would be up in arms if something like this happened under a GOP presidency. They’re absolutely right – because there WAS suppression of left wing groups under the George W. Bush administration. I find it strange that the right wing forgets that protesters during Bush’s terms were regularly called traitors and worse, that the left wing was accused of “not supporting our troops”, that Bush’s press secretary told Americans they “should watch what they do, watch what they say” and that even Bush himself announced “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” The right wing wants people to forget about the Joe Wilson matter, where a diplomat and his wife were targeted by the Bush people for Wilson’s public statements about Bush lies that helped lead the country to war with Iraq. At the time that all this was happening, I don’t recall Fox News or any AM radio pundits sticking up for the rights of the protesters by any means. And those protesters didn’t have the money behind them that the Tea Party groups do. I agree that it’s unfair for the Tea Party groups to have been asked to produce more paperwork, and I think it’s appropriate that the matter was corrected. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t get to speak, and by no means did this paperwork somehow turn an election.
The DOJ issue with the reporters is actually unravelling for Fox News, so they’re falling back on the Rosen story to see if they can get traction there. Because the AP phone records matter was legal under the Patriot Act, and apparently under the Espionage Act, as even Fox News has been forced to admit. Even Jay Sekulow, in the midst of a ridiculous segment with Juan Williams last night, was compelled to admit that the AP had violated national security laws in their conduct, thus generating a problem for themselves. As pointed out here, the facts show that Rosen also bumbled his way into this situation – and he’s lucky that the DOJ doesn’t want to push the matter. Of course, this won’t stop Fox News from pushing the matter in the other direction. But I don’t know if they want to push too hard here – if all the materials of what Rosen was doing were to come out publicly, I don’t think it will paint him or Fox News in a very good light.
It’s ironic to me that Fox News is so desperately trying to pump these matters up. It’s also ironic that while they are trying to smear President Obama, they are simultaneously trying to elevate not only George W. Bush but also Richard Nixon. One of the “news” hours yesterday included a sentimental piece about veterans and soldiers visiting the Nixon White House for Memorial Day, talking about how the soldiers will never forget visiting Richard Nixon in his study and what a great time it all was. I can understand celebrating a visit to the White House for Memorial Day – but the NIXON White House? (And I’ll try to stay out of the total rewrite of history they were doing about how Nixon “kept his promise and got us out of the Vietnam War”…)