POLITICS: White House

Hugh Hewitt: Fake flowers and the pretend White House press corps

By |
Opinion,White House,Hugh Hewitt,Columnists,Media

Here is what Attorney General Eric Holder testified to when, while under oath, he was asked about the Department of Justice's investigations of journalists and national security leaks:

"In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material: This is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy."

NBC investigative reporter Michael Issikof has reported that the attorney general signed the application for the warrant authorizing surveillance of Fox News reporter James Rosen and that the warrant application included an affidavit from an FBI agent who asserted "[t]here is probable cause to believe that the reporter has committed a violation" of the Espionage Act "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator of Mr. Kim."

The warrant application also requested secrecy as it asserted that Rosen was a flight risk.

Aiders, abettors, and co-conspirators of spies, especially those who might flee, are definitely the subjects of potential prosecution. So Holder either lied to Congress, lied to the judge, or doesn't read what he signs.

Last week we also heard from the president on the subject of the press. Toward the end of a long and generally uninteresting rehash of his standard talking points on the war on terror, delivered at the National Defense University, the president said that "[j]ournalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs."

"Our focus must be on those who break the law," he continued. "And that's why I've called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government overreach."

And who will guard us against overreach? "I've raised these issues with the attorney general," the president declared, "who shares my concerns."

Memo to the White House press corps: At the next semiannual, six-question press conference, someone should ask the president if, when he "raised these issues with the attorney general," the president already knew the details of the Rosen case, whether the AG told him then and there, or if the AG kept him in the dark.

It has to be one of those three circumstances. None of the three reflects well on the president, but one of them adds to Holder's long list of sins against the office of AG that of purposefully deceiving the president about the substance of a matter the president "has raised."

None of this hangs together, and what my radio pal Mark Steyn calls the poodle press is still not even yapping at the obvious "issues raised" by Holder's conduct. They are all "outraged," of course, and want the public to share the outrage.

But why should the public get riled up? The First Amendment is supposed to protect a vigilant, pressing press, not a cheerleading squad for the president they love. There are exceptions of course, but most of the Beltway-Manhattan media elite have been pulling for Obama from the first day of his presidency.

You don't water fake flowers, and you don't get outraged over assaults on pretend reporters. The handful of reporters who have pressed Team Obama on its various scandals -- from Fast and Furious to the Environmental Protection Agency's scam emails, the Obamacare shakedown and now the IRS shocker -- have the respect and support of the public, but the vast majority of Manhattan-Beltway media bigs are seen as extensions of the White House Press Office.

When the mainstream media start doing their job again, the public will defend them. Until then, not so much.

Washington Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.

View article comments Leave a comment