Beltway Confidential

Dylan Byers, 'liberal media' often misses the story, too

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Beltway Confidential,Mark Tapscott,Media

Politico's Dylan Byers has really stepped in it today in a blog post entitled "conservative media's big Obama failure."

First, Byers claims, without even a crumb of documentation, that after the November election, "conservative outlets have returned to moaning about 'liberal media bias,' often accusing mainstream media outlets of giving President Obama a 'free pass.'"

I wasn't aware that the Right media ever stopped moaning about the liberal bias that clearly dominates so much of the mainstream meda, But be that as it may, Byers goes on to ask "has the conservative media been more adversarial, outside of pot shots and conspiracy theories?"

Now that's an absolutely legitimate question - and one that could be addressed with equal urgency to legions of journalists who don't work for Right media outlets - but leave that consideration aside for the moment.

Where Byers steps in it is when he offers this observation:

"Just take a look at the latest major scoop out of Washington -- a leaked Justice Dept. memo revealing the legal case for drone strikes on Americans. That wasn't obtained by Fox News, Matt Drudge or the Weekly Standard, and it certainly wasn't obtained by Breitbart, Washington Free Beacon or the Daily Caller. It's hard to imagine that it ever could be."

Like the porcine star of the Geico commercial who asks the guy across the aisle on the airplane "OK, did she really just say that," I have to wonder if Byers gave even a nanosecond of thought to that statement before moving on.

My friend Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller makes the point in response to Byers that Eric Holder's Justice Department isn't likely to leak anything to the DC or any other Right media. That's true as far as it goes, but it misses the larger point, which is that the drone strikes on Americans story isn't new, which means it really doesn't qualify as the "latest major scoop out of Washington."

The existence of Justice Department rationalizations for the U.S. government killing U.S. citizens without due process or anything else has been known for a long time, which is why its constitutionality and morality have been debated for an equally long time. There are a multitude of fresher and more significant stories to pursue today, so it's hardly fair or logical for Byers to bash the "conservative journalists" he has in mind for not getting the leaked memo.

Byers concludes with an observation that in just about any other context would be good advice:

"To those conservative journalists who believe the media is giving Obama a free pass, my advice to you is: Stop complaining and go report. And when you do, don't come back with another conspiracy theory. Come back with a memo."

Well, there are lots of "memos" about Obama that have yet to be reported by the sort of media folks of whom I suspect Byers approves. Let me give you an example: The Washington Examiner's Richard Pollock spent several months in 2012 doing the basic reporting about the president's early years that for the most part wasn't done by the mainstream media in 2008.

One of Pollock's most interesting discoveries was a Chicago court case in which the young Obama defended a despicable slumlord who turned off the heat and water without prior notice to a low-income apartment complex during a record-cold winter. The residents were put on the street, yet Obama got the slumlord off with a $50 fine.

A court clerk Pollock was working with said he was the first reporter ever to ask about the case.

It was just one case but it proved indicative of a fact that ran contrary to the Obama version of his history - He said he worked for a boutique civil rights law firm. In fact, Pollock's examination of the firm's client list showed that the future president most often worked on cases involving politically influential Chicago slumlords and developers.

In fact, as Pollock discovered in a previously never-reported 1997 speech, Obama's legal work on behalf of these slimy characters was at the center of the strategy he described in the address for using federal urban housing subsidies to enrich the same slumlords and developers who in return became campaign donors. Obama's strategy became a model for housing activists and Democratic machine operators nationwide, according to one of the president's longstanding supporters.

This newspaper published Pollock's discovery and much more concerning the chief executive in the series entitled "The Obama You Don't Know" in 2012. Why weren't those stories published by The New York Times or The Washington Post, or Politico, in 2008?

Could it be it was because too many journalists chose not to look? Find out why they chose not to and you would have a strong candidate for what really is "the latest major scoop in Washington."

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.

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