NYT, WaPo, USA Today editorial boards blast Obama over seizure of AP phone records

posted at 10:41 am on May 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Politico reported earlier today that Washington DC has begun to turn against Barack Obama and his administration.  Thanks to Obama’s own arrogance, write Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, he has little good will inside the Beltway anyway, and that leaves him with few passionate defenders in the latest scandal cascade:

The town is turning on President Obama — and this is very bad news for this White House.

Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama — and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now. Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this president to begin with, are starting to speak out. And reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.

Buy-in from all three D.C. stakeholders is an essential ingredient for a good old-fashioned Washington pile-on — so get ready for bad stories and public scolding to pile up. ….

Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats. And the press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.

Many will treat that last claim with considerable skepticism.  The press has had plenty of opportunities to demand accountability from the White House, but have mostly acted as its apologists instead.  Benghazi is one case in point, long before there were any whistleblowers to report, too.  The terrorist attack took place because Obama’s intervention in Libya and decapitation of the Moammar Qaddafi regime set the terrorist networks in eastern Libya free.  Both the attack on our consulate and the larger problem of al-Qaeda’s attempt at its own coup in Mali — which took French military intervention to narrowly prevent — resulted directly from the decision by Obama to take out the Qaddafi regime without putting boots on the ground.

Not only has the media largely ignored that chain of consequences in the Benghazi story, they’re ignoring it in the context of Syria and proposed Western intervention there, too.  That’s not even a “scandal” issue, but a critical sequence that needs to be properly aired and analyzed before we end up doing the same thing in Syria that we did in Libya — and the only obstacle to connecting those dots seems to be the desire of the media to preserve Obama’s Libya intervention as some sort of foreign-policy triumph.

But perhaps things are changing, if only in a self-interested way. The New York Times editorial board, which earlier kinda-sorta cheered the IRS’ focus on conservative groups, gets its dudgeon to medium-high on the seizure of AP phone records:

The Obama administration, which has a chilling zeal for investigating leaks and prosecuting leakers, has failed to offer a credible justification for secretly combing through the phone records of reporters and editors at The Associated Press in what looks like a fishing expedition for sources and an effort to frighten off whistle-blowers. …

For more than 30 years, the news media and the government have used a well-honed system to balance the government’s need to pursue criminals or national security breaches with the media’s constitutional right to inform the public. This action against The A.P., as the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press outlined in a letter to Mr. Holder, “calls into question the very integrity” of the administration’s policy toward the press.

The records covered 20 phone lines, including main office phones in New York City, Washington, Hartford, and the Congressional press gallery. The guidelines for such subpoenas, first enacted in 1972, require that requests for media information be narrow. The reporters’ committee said this action is so broad that it allowed prosecutors to “plunder two months of news-gathering materials to seek information that might interest them.”

The Washington Post editorial board, which sharply criticized the White House over the IRS scandal, offers a we-told-you-so on the AP scandal:

WHEN THE Justice Department launched its investigation of alleged leaks of national security information by the Obama administration a year ago, we were skeptical. The history of such probes is mainly a tale of dead ends and unintended negative consequences. That this effort to criminalize a leak was launched amid an election-year uproar seemed especially inauspicious.

Our forebodings have been borne out with the revelation that federal prosecutors have undertaken a broad sweep of the Associated Press’s phone records. Whatever national-security enhancement this was intended to achieve seems likely to be outweighed by the damage to press freedom and governmental transparency.

USA Today’s editors call it “a torrent of abuse” and part of a pattern in this administration (via Gabriel Malor):

Another day, another excessive use of government power by the Obama administration.

First came disclosures Friday that the Internal Revenue Service had singled out conservative advocacy groups for extra scrutiny when the groups sought tax-exempt status. On Monday came news that the Justice Department, in a rare intrusion into the work of news reporters, had seized wide-ranging phone records from the Associated Press.

They seem to be the only ones connecting any dots here.  Plus, they point out that this abuse of power all but disqualifies the DoJ to investigate the other abuse of power erupting this week:

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole argued Tuesday that prosecutors acted cautiously. But the sweeping seizure of data on 20 AP phones lines smacks more of a fishing expedition. Those records are now in government files and could be misused in the future. Prosecutors seized the data secretly rather than offer the AP a chance to negotiate what it would turn over, even though the records weren’t going anywhere. They treated the AP more like a hardened criminal than an upstanding news organization.

As for the IRS revelation, Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a criminal investigation to determine whether anyone at the agency broke the law. That’s a start. But the Justice Department’s decision-making in the AP case doesn’t inspire confidence in the result.

It would build a little more confidence in the media if these outlets would connect a few more of these dots.


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NYT, WaPo, USA Today editorial boards blast Obama

Don’t worry, they will be back on their knees by next week.

Alabama Infidel on May 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM

It’s breathtaking.

Resist We Much on May 15, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Not inclined to waste cells on it and not into entertainment at this time, but she has a pretty appropriate nom, the duncette.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Fenris on May 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM

I still think they could make better arguments. And why do some of them bother trying to convince us they have an open mind? I guess it’s hard to steal talking points from the paid hacks while HotAir and others are refuting them.

Cindy Munford on May 15, 2013 at 11:56 AM

A Republic/democracy cannot survive without an educated people and a strong, free, and unbiased press.

Resist We Much on May 15, 2013 at 10:48 AM

…and a 1st Amendment these creeps live well off of, and which they encouraged to be destroyed (not to diminish the other amendments, but this applies to their existence).

They brung/kept Obama, along with all the other dunces, from both sides. May he destroy all, in full.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

You will seldom see me request the ban hammer. I’m completely interested in differing opinions. Just wondering where the middle ground on the ability to convey those different opinions could be found.

Cindy Munford on May 15, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Liam on May 15, 2013 at 11:07 AM

You spoke too soon. The “glee over the white Boston bomber” showed up, ahead of you. Glee must have vanished, all of a sudden.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats.

Yeah, that’s it. Sure. He’s not enough of a people person. He’s too aloof. If he only slapped some more backs, the media would all be supporting him more. Where’s LBJ when you need him? (sarc)

This analysis by Politico is stupid and wrongheaded on too many levels to count.

Burke on May 15, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Cindy Munford on May 15, 2013 at 11:59 AM

He’ll hang himself. He’s good for HA Capitalism.

I like to know how they are. Only strenghthens my contention that they are all thugs, claiming to be so erudite, enlightened, egalitarian, free…compared to us, the rubes :)

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 12:06 PM

I glory in being a rube.

Cindy Munford on May 15, 2013 at 12:09 PM

When he promised TRANSFORMATION WAS COMING TO AMERICA, he wasn’t kidding, and all the idiots followed.

rjoco1 on May 15, 2013 at 12:21 PM

…And why do some of them bother trying to convince us they have an open mind?…

Cindy Munford on May 15, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Because they actually believe that they do have an open mind. To positions they find reasonable, the type of ‘reasonable’ having nothing to do with reason.

Fenris on May 15, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Me too, Cindy.

———-
Expose this waste of dough, for retraining the obvious, fools of Obama. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brennan and Hagel would by now be converted to Islam already.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Color me unimpressed by the press’s sudden burst of interest in executive branch overreach. They’ve been spiking stories for the last 5 years that document this SOB’s gross abuse of power, corruption, incompetence, and utter contempt of the law and civil society. Obama and his Stalinist followers have demonized and abused entire swaths of American society for years. Only now that he’s been caught abusing the press they finally take notice? They can eat crap and die for all I care.

RobertE on May 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Yes, it was pleasing.

cozmo on May 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM

lol

Resist We Much on May 15, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Not inclined to waste cells on it and not into entertainment at this time, but she has a pretty appropriate nom, the duncette.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Her name is Allison. I call her Allidunce.

Resist We Much on May 15, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Don’t worry, they will be back on their knees by next week.

Alabama Infidel on May 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Exactly, a few phone calls, a couple of “beer summits”, a nice dinner, some “inside info”, and all will be forgiven…

right2bright on May 15, 2013 at 12:34 PM

This is bad news people. I am really sickened by the idea that BigGov sees fit to encroach upon my freedom. There is a reason the First Amendment leads the BOR.

I am almost sure that I have used one of the phones that was tapped. Breathe, it was years ago at Hartfod’s, Courant.

Without giving up too much info here are a few details:

Scores if not hundreds of people have used the phones all over that newsroom. Imagine your own office or home? Does anybody let a landline ring ceaselessly? No. People answer and use landlines at will. That likely means that people who have NOTHING to do with their investigation are now dockets and potential witnesses. (Would defense attorneys would be entitled to interview every person captured in those recordings?)

Feds trapped phone numbers and IDs for incoming calls to varying AP offices. This means that reporters, staff, custodians even third-party vendors could have incoming calls routed through the newsroom. How could they possibly filter thousands of incoming sources to protect your privacy? They can’t and likely did not.

I don’t know what the exact arrangement is but AP reporters seemin to freely use Courant facilities and vice-versa. Though the latter seemed somewhat limited access. That being said, I know that Courant reporters were able to login to AP photo and article DB from Courant workstations.

Also, AP files are accessable remotely from anywhere in the world I believe. Why not tap every phone in America? The potential for witnesses would be unmatched.

This is not a report. It is recalled off the top and simply meant to add context.

If you’re a fed, consider everything I just wrote a lie. Also **** you for violating our primary tool for freedom.

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 1:27 PM

a former senior Obama administration official said. “When there’s no narrative, stuff like this consumes you.”

Translation: “When there’s no false narrative, stuff like this the truth consumes you.”

novaculus on May 15, 2013 at 1:27 PM

They’ve been spiking stories for the last 5 years that document this SOB’s gross abuse of power, corruption, incompetence, and utter contempt of the law and civil society.

Do you know what “spiking” means? If so you realize that making such a statement requires specific instances or you’re simply making stuff up. I’m not saying stories don’t get spiked. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been told to stop calling or interviewing subjects.

I don’t disagree with you. I just don’t believe you know what you’re talking about.

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 1:29 PM

At least we know they investigated the Fast & Furious scandal to it’s fullest. So, they dodged that bullet.

BKeyser on May 15, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Reporter: How many reporters records were seized?
Holder: I’m not sure.

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Reporter: How many reporters records were seized?
Holder: I’m not sure.

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Well, there you go. He’s not good at math either.

Barnestormer on May 15, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Though it’s difficult to plumb the depths of leftist stupidity, especially the fools in the WH, turning on the media has to be one of the greatest blunders in ever. They made Obama, & by extension the low lifes around him. AG Holder quickly comes to mind in that area. So what do the lower order apes do, they contrive to wreck the relationship

arand on May 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

“They’re just jealous they don’t have relatives of their top execs setting White House policy like we do. Holder, crush them!” – CBSABCCNNPMSDNC cabal

Steve Eggleston on May 15, 2013 at 2:51 PM

So the Press is crying because it’s about them, of course.

Awwww, poor babies…

Your Lord & Master has betrayed you, has he? Did he forget to leave the $20 on the night table this time?

You created him. You protected him. You never vetted him. You lied, concealed & did everything you could to help elect him – twice.

F*ck you. You own him. He owns you.

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on May 15, 2013 at 10:52 AM

This would have been the Comment of the Day™, but you had the wrong owner/owned relationship. Presstitute organs don’t own who they spew for.

Steve Eggleston on May 15, 2013 at 2:53 PM

They thought their endless bum-nuzzling would give them an exemption. All they got for their effort was a brown mustache . . .

tpitman on May 15, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Charles Johnson over at LGF:

Republicans Oddly Silent Over DOJ Raid on AP Records
They’ve never been that big on freedom of the press anyway

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Up-Chuck Oddly Blind

Steve Eggleston on May 15, 2013 at 3:13 PM

The media is so utterly corrupt.

The result of this will be a couple people fired and the continued cover up of Fast and Furious and Bengazi. The left will continue to oppress those that fight their power with Big Government. This is just standard opporating procedure in any statist regime.

GardenGnome on May 15, 2013 at 3:31 PM

NYT, WaPo, USA Today editorial boards blast Obama over seizure of AP phone records

Aww, it’s never fun when the Brownshirt mob comes a’knockin on YOUR door, is it?

You dolts always said the “Pen is Mightier than the Sword”…prove it now. Otherwise, suck it up and put some ice on it…

Maggots.

BlaxPac on May 15, 2013 at 3:47 PM

BlaxPac on May 15, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Michelle Malkin’s header image alludes to that same cliché.

I don’t understand how so many conservatives fail to believe in and promote the importance of journalism. FOP comes before gun-owner rights. Dismissing all journalists is perilous.

This scandal has the potential to inspire more conservative journalists. But it won’t. Tea Partiers prefer extremism to being informed. GOP and moderates are too stupid, feckless and wussified to think outside the Tea Party box.

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 3:55 PM

And Obama’s answer: No you can’t drive!

“After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want to keys back. No! You can’t drive. We don’t want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out.”

socalcon on May 15, 2013 at 4:23 PM

I’m not treated with respect…But I am the Atty. Gen. of the United States – Holder

workingclass artist on May 15, 2013 at 5:04 PM

CSPAN: WH asks Schumer to reintroduce a Press Shield law…

d1carter on May 15, 2013 at 5:19 PM

They treated the AP more like a hardened criminal than an upstanding news organization.

Since when has the AP behaved like an upstanding news organization? They use the power of the press to attack Tea Party groups and conservatives and Republicans. Note how quick they are to jump on scandals involving these groups and how they provide minimal coverage of Dem scandals. Often they leave out the political affiliation if a Dem is involved in a scandal.

Media elites have such a high opinion of themselves that this is the first time they’re really mad at Obama. How dare the administration attack the holy media! 4 dead Americans and a big lie about a stupid cartoonish video = no big deal. NDAA = no big deal. Fast & Furious = no big deal. AP phone records seized = (as Biden would say) a BFD.

Ibanez Lotus on May 15, 2013 at 8:18 PM

I don’t understand how so many conservatives fail to believe in and promote the importance of journalism. FOP comes before gun-owner rights. Dismissing all journalists is perilous.

This scandal has the potential to inspire more conservative journalists. But it won’t. Tea Partiers prefer extremism to being informed. GOP and moderates are too stupid, feckless and wussified to think outside the Tea Party box.

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 3:55 PM

I do believe in the importance of true journalism. However, the MSM has not practiced true journalism in a long time. The majority of MSM reporters are registered democrats and that leaves us with a one-sided Pravda-like press.

Nice way to pretend to care about having more conservative journalists. Inspirational, the sweeping attack on such a large group of Americans. There are decent MSM reporters like Jake Tapper out there, but I think I’ll borrow your broad brush and call MSM reporters the Joseph Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahls of journalism.

Ibanez Lotus on May 15, 2013 at 8:30 PM

However, the MSM has not practiced true journalism in a long time. The majority of MSM reporters are registered democrats and that leaves us with a one-sided Pravda-like press.

Screw the MSM you dolt.

Hmmm, did you know Michelle Malkin was one a mainstream media journalist? There are others here at HotAir too. I have always asserted that the right is well-suited to reproduce the Tea Party enthusiasm and growth in journalism instead of outrage.

You mention Jake Tapper. He’s pretty solid. But I bet you more Republicans conservatives listen to Glenn Beck who is mostly full of shiite. But I’m sure you’ll defend him. Per my presumption, you embody the problem. (Pardon my endogenous sleight of hand if you will.)

The Tea Party disgusts me. Journalism gives me hope. Too bad Republicans have screwed themselves by embracing the wrong avenue to extend the party’s lifeline. GOP is on an IV drip as evidenced by the hysterics which would normally be played out on the left.

Yes, there are people like Kevin Williamson and NR. There’s Howard Portnoy who now blogs/reports at Liberty Unyielding. He used to be in the Green Room here. Counter to that, there are so many angry voices that just rant and rave. Good reporting gets buried. Ha, bury the lede as a lifestyle.

Any so-called conservative who doesn’t long for conservative reporters is an idiot. You sound like an idiot.

Nice way to pretend to care about having more conservative journalists. Inspirational, the sweeping attack on such a large group of Americans

Then I’ve been pretending for a long time.

You’re just so tragically partisan that you deign not to think for yourself. The thought of doing so frightens you. Also you must not know me very well because I don’t need an excuse. Read any one of my comments and you’ll figure that out quickly. I’m that a-hole. Got it?

You react to moderation like liberals react to black-conservatives. Since you make an assertion. I’d love to see you back it up. You can accuse me of being an insensitive jerk but you must realize that I back up what I say as often as time permits.

(This reply was a perfect excuse to blow my workout this morning. Thank you for being daft.)

Capitalist Hog on May 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM

MKH’s Green Room post shows the importance of conservative journalism is necessary. Angry voices don’t reach as many people as conservatives like to think. Americans still like their news soft-serve.

Jake Tapper is not enough. We need more unbiased voices in news.

Capitalist Hog on May 16, 2013 at 11:44 AM

The Tea Party disgusts me.

Capitalist Hog on May 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM

I’m not surprised. Normal everyday people do disgust those who think themselves better than the mere rabble. Thank you for illustrating so succinctly what is wrong with “journalism” today.

dominigan on May 19, 2013 at 7:40 AM

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