Via the Free Beacon, ignore Hillary’s habits of handling classified information and the IRS’s scrutiny of tea-party groups and the fiasco with VA wait times and Operation Fast & Furious, since those are evidently only things a benighted right-winger would find scandalous. Ignore too Obama’s aggrandizement of presidential power, from new undeclared wars to “kill lists” to deciding after six years that he had the power to temporarily amnestize young illegals en masse after all. Those aren’t “scandals,” lefties would say, they’re just part of the ongoing devolution of the federal government into an autocracy. Obama didn’t start that trend and lord knows he didn’t end it, so it’s all good.
Can we get some Democratic buy-in, though, on the idea that Obama’s DOJ behaved scandalously towards journalists? Veteran reporter James Risen made the case in an op-ed published a few weeks after Election Day 2016 titled “If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama.”
Criticism of Mr. Obama’s stance on press freedom, government transparency and secrecy is hotly disputed by the White House, but many journalism groups say the record is clear. Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.
Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases…
In a scathing 2013 report for the Committee to Protect Journalists, Leonard Downie, a former executive editor of The Washington Post who now teaches at Arizona State University, said the war on leaks and other efforts to control information was “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate.”
Others in the media have echoed those points periodically since Obama left office. Do we have national consensus that that’s more than a “whisper of scandal,” particularly given the bellowing over the past two years about how democracy dies in darkness without an aggressive press? Or does this one also not really count because the bad orange man likes to tweet about “the enemy of the people” and everything is relative?
Righties will be understandably indignant about the clip but it’d be political malpractice for Biden not to hammer this point. Practically since the day he joined the race in 2015, polls have showed Trump’s numbers in the toilet on questions about how honest and trustworthy he is. He just got through a two-year investigation that saw his former campaign manager, his former NSA, and his former personal attorney at the Trump Organization convicted of federal crimes. He’s under investigation in the Southern District of New York for God knows how many different offenses and House Democrats may yet use the obstruction material in Mueller’s report to impeach him. Obviously Biden’s going to run on a message of restoring “good government” to the presidency. If that means pretending there wasn’t so much as a fleeting fart of scandal in the wind during the Obama years, that’s what it means. Democrats are primed for this message. Just listen to the applause that greets him here.