The media, speaking “meh” to power?

posted at 12:01 pm on February 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The last twenty-four hours have been rather remarkable for those interested in politics and media.  Journalists often speak of the need to impose accountability on public officials, and to “speak truth to power,” especially when it comes to corruption and favoritism.  The New York Times dropped a bombshell into their laps two days ago in reporting that Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, now converted to a “social welfare” group, had openly courted large-scale donors by promising to sell them quarterly access to President Obama in exchange for $500,000 or more in donations, either personal or bundled.  NBC’s Chuck Todd reported on it the next morning, saying that “This just looks bad,” and that it was “the definition of how you define selling access.”

Obviously, this is exactly the kind of corruption and cronyism that the media is supposed to expose, and give the NYT and Chuck Todd credit for jumping all over it.  How about the rest of the media?  So far, they’ve said “meh” to power, or at least to Obama and his campaign organization.  While conservative-leaning outlets like Fox, Washington Times, and Washington Examiner have covered the story, a search of news stories mostly shows other outlets repeating Jay Carney’s rather strained, non-specific denials without much further comment.  Politico reported that the offer was part of a “preliminary” strategy, and the Washington Post just carried an AP report with a mostly non-denial denial from OFA.  The effort in the media seems more aimed at avoiding uncomfortable questions about power than speaking truth to it.

In my column for The Week, I put the offer into a different kind of perspective:

The outright sale of seats for meetings at the White House is something very new, however, and amounts to a form of simony at the Church of Hope and Change.

It’s especially egregious considering the context of other presidential advisory boards. Obama launched the Simpson-Bowles commission (officially the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) and then apparently only met with them once to discuss their deficit-cutting efforts. Obama also formed a “Jobs Council” in early 2011 to defend himself against criticism for having too few advisers with real-world business experience and losing focus on the economy. In the two years of the council’s existence, it officially met a total of four times, only one of which was with Obama, and hadn’t held an official meeting in the year previous to its expiration at the end of January 2013.

Big donors to OFA, however, will get much more attention. Instead of a cursory single briefing on piddling issues like the explosion of national debt and the dearth of job creation in the Obama recovery, OFA donors get quarterly sessions with the president to discuss … “social welfare.” Forget what this says about integrity in governance; what does it say about the priorities of the president?

It also says something about campaign finance reforms over the past four decades, a point I make in the conclusion.  Too bad the media seems uninterested in anything about this story, because it means a lost opportunity to not just speak truth to power but also to put us back on the right path to reform.

Meanwhile, Breitbart’s Michael Patrick Leahy thinks that the fundraising scheme should be challenged in court:

The Obama team’s brazen attempt to convert the assets of its political campaign into assets to promote the President’s political agenda and the electoral fortunes of his Democratic allies is unprecedented in American political history. It is clearly a violation of the intent of current federal election laws.

The Obama team is betting that they’ve cleverly discovered a loophole, one that Republicans will fail to challenge legally. Even if the legality of this unprecedented and highly political attempt to circumvent the intent of federal election law is challenged, Obama’s team is further betting that their attorneys will argue their case successfully before regulators and judges. To date, the Obama tactic has caught Republicans flat footed.

Not only is the conversion of questionable legality, it also is in absolute contradiction to everything President Obama has ever said about the negative influence of large financial donations on the political process in America. In 2010, for instance, when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision paved the way for SuperPACs that could accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations alike, President Obama was one of the Court’s harshest critics. But the President’s opinion on the evils of unlimited donations to political organizations–especially those that pretend to be “issues advocacy” groups–appears to have changed in the three years since that decision.

Don’t expect the traditional media to ask too many questions about that, either.


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NBC’s Chuck Todd reported on it the next morning, saying that “This just looks bad,” and that it was “the definition of how you define selling access.”

As the media are ordered out of the Governor’s meeting with Commander Transparent.

OhEssYouCowboys on February 26, 2013 at 12:09 PM

He’s like a bad drug, “just say no”.

Tater Salad on February 26, 2013 at 12:09 PM

What if W did this part 15,832

cmsinaz on February 26, 2013 at 12:11 PM

They cannot say “no” to power when their mouths are full of him.

Archivarix on February 26, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Its good to be king! – Mel Brooks

Patriot Vet on February 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Yet another 0 series to work on, great, not like I have been busy enough with the other six.

Bmore on February 26, 2013 at 12:18 PM

The effort in the media seems more aimed at avoiding uncomfortable questions about power than speaking truth to it.

They’ll get right on it, as soon as they stop carrying water for Barry.

GarandFan on February 26, 2013 at 12:19 PM

The Obama team’s brazen attempt to convert the assets of its political campaign into assets to promote the President’s political agenda and the electoral fortunes of his Democratic allies is unprecedented in American political history. It is clearly a violation of the intent of current federal election laws.

Don’t do as I do, just do as I say. (King Obama)

I won!

Comede cacas et mori liberales spumae

Scrumpy on February 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM

How do you speak truth to power when you are the power?

ButterflyDragon on February 26, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Why does a man who ran his last campaign need campaign donations…?
Is he going to run for Senate again?
This is nothing more than a slush fund for after he leaves office.

NeoKong on February 26, 2013 at 12:21 PM

The New York Times dropped a bombshell into their laps two days ago in reporting that Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, now converted to a “social welfare” group, had openly courted large-scale donors by promising to sell them quarterly access to President Obama in exchange for $500,000 or more in donations,

Meh, the New York Slime is only objecting because they were not on the list of organizations approved to buy Presidential influence.

SWalker on February 26, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Yet another 0 series to work on, great, not like I have been busy enough with the other six.

Bmore on February 26, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Fabulous series it is too!

Here is a song whose lyrics you may be able to use.

Content Warning: Bad Language

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPnel7P8jek

Scrumpy on February 26, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Big deal.

This should have happened before the election.

sentinelrules on February 26, 2013 at 12:23 PM

What if W did this part 15,832

cmsinaz on February 26, 2013 at 12:11 PM

W couldn’t fire 12 incompetent US Attorneys or land a plane on an homeward-bound aircraft carrier with a mission accomplished banner without it becoming a scandal.

The rat-eared wonder has ignored armed thugs intimidating white voters at a polling place, he’s killed hundreds of Mexicans with guns his administration knowingly provided to Mexican drug cartels, he was indifferent to the death of a US Ambassador to the point he went to bed and did not deviate from his campaign fundraising, he’s gone on lavish vacations with and without Mooch and the mini-moochers even though W couldn’t spend a few days in Crawford without the media getting up in arms about the fact.

My point? I think your count of “What if W did this” parts is light by at least 20,000.

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2013 at 12:23 PM

you’re right…

cmsinaz on February 26, 2013 at 12:25 PM

“Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse.”
Adlai E. Stevenson

MichaelGabriel on February 26, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Its good to be king! – Mel Brooks

Patriot Vet on February 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM

THIS
and

I won!

Scrumpy on February 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM

THIS

cmsinaz on February 26, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2013 at 12:23 PM

A dead-on post – and it made me LOL – “rat-eared wonder.”

I never could get beyond having to look up his nostrils, as he gazes down upon we filth.

Now – and I’m being serious here – when he comes on TV I immediately turn my head, and turn the channel.

I can’t even look at him, I’m so sickened.

OhEssYouCowboys on February 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM

We all know that even as a progressive, if Obama was a white guy, we’d have all the F&F documents, Benghazi information, and he’d be impeached or possibly even in prison by now for everything else he’s done. I mean, damn, they impeached Clinton for a BJ.

Is there any way we can get past the white guilt thing and just put his white half behind bars?

The Rogue Tomato on February 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Now – and I’m being serious here – when he comes on TV I immediately turn my head, and turn the channel.

I can’t even look at him, I’m so sickened.

OhEssYouCowboys on February 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM

You aren’t the only one. I’m a political junkie but I simply could not/ would not watch the State of the Union this year.

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM

I’d love to see waht they are saying on Journolist v2.0 about this story.

Of course Fast and Furious would have been more interesting.

18-1 on February 26, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Now – and I’m being serious here – when he comes on TV I immediately turn my head, and turn the channel.

I can’t even look at him, I’m so sickened.

OhEssYouCowboys on February 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM

You aren’t the only one. I’m a political junkie but I simply could not/ would not watch the State of the Union this year.

Can’t look at him, can’t stand to hear his voice. I change stations as soon as I hear it, toss any Sunday paper magazine insert with his and/or Moochelle on the cover. I refuse to watch any of his appearances. I’ll leave that to the blog keepers and tune in for the analysis and responses later.

hawkeye54 on February 26, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Forget what this says about integrity in governance; what does it say about the priorities of the president?

Good call, Ed. And…

What does it say about the morality of the president?

His morals and values might be bankrupt, but he certainly won’t be.

With OFA to hand out favors, a Presidential pension and the proceeds from his book: Dreams of Yo’ Daddy: How I F***ed the Nation,

he should be set.

IndieDogg on February 26, 2013 at 12:44 PM

msdnc talking heads-it’s ok that he does this because he has to fight the koch brothers or something

wtf??

if the gop does it, why can’t the he?..this organization is going to help the poor and working class and NOT rich people, so its all good
-another msdnc talking head

*shaking the head*

cmsinaz on February 26, 2013 at 12:44 PM

The “media” and the Obama-Dem regime are simply different facets of the same organism.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on February 26, 2013 at 12:45 PM

The “media” and the Obama-Dem regime are simply different facets of the same organism.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on February 26, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Is that a dog whistle for lady parts?

Happy Nomad on February 26, 2013 at 12:46 PM

We all know that even as a progressive, if Obama was a white guy, we’d have all the F&F documents, Benghazi information, and he’d be impeached or possibly even in prison by now for everything else he’s done. I mean, damn, they impeached Clinton for a BJ.

Is there any way we can get past the white guilt thing and just put his white half behind bars?

The Rogue Tomato on February 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Half right, you forget the whole name connection as we know numerous lib’s are sympathetic to the muzzies.

D-fusit on February 26, 2013 at 12:51 PM

ABC Edits Out Mooch’s Comments about Automatic Weapon in Chicago Murder:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/2522593

bw222 on February 26, 2013 at 12:58 PM

We all know that even as a progressive, if Obama was a white guy, we’d have all the F&F documents, Benghazi information, and he’d be impeached or possibly even in prison by now for everything else he’s done. I mean, damn, they impeached Clinton for a BJ.

Well, if Obama was a white REPUBLICAN white guy, doing what he’s been doing, he probably never would have made it out of his first term, let alone running for and winning a second.

By this time, he’d be doing time, after his impeachment and conviction for crimes against the nation.

And, yeah, Clinton was impeached by the House, which didn’t mean much without the Senate doing its part….and the overall ordeal hardly put a scratch on Bubba’s popularity.

hawkeye54 on February 26, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Are we at all surprised?

tbrickert on February 26, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Have you noticed how the term “Fourth Estate” hasn’t been used since 2007?

Clink on February 26, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Yes, I drove a wooden stake through it’s dead and lifeless heart when I coined the term, “Fifth Column Treasonous Media”…

SWalker on February 26, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Did Ojesus take the hypocritical oath on Inauguration by mistake?

…Nah, it’s who he is.

hillbillyjim on February 26, 2013 at 2:22 PM

its hard for the media to say ‘no’ to power, when Obama has them on their knees with a mouthful

burserker on February 26, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Great article

api on March 11, 2013 at 1:42 PM