You don't say: Media Matters defends Eric Holder

Poor, much-maligned Eric Holder. He should be able to implicitly approve an ultimately lethal operation without anybody ever asking questions about it. Luckily for him, the tax-exempt “watchdog” group Media Matters agrees with him.

You know the story so far: The Attorney General received memos that clearly outlined the controversial tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious, a program to funnel firearms to straw purchasers in a purported attempt to track the weapons from the hands of the straw purchasers and into the hands of the leaders of Mexican drug cartels. The program’s credibility was called into question because the bureau in charge of the operation completely lost track of a sizable number of weapons — and because some of those weapons began to show up at the scenes of violent crimes in the U.S. and in Mexico, including at the site of the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whose death has been a cause of no great concern to Holder, who for ages refused to apologize for the part he played in Terry’s killing. Since the Attorney General’s presumed knowledge of OF&F has come to light, congressional Republicans have begun to call for Holder’s resignation. Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle has steadfastly pursued the beat, routinely calling congressional offices for reaction to the scandal — and has consequently been the first to learn of this or that congressman’s call for the AG’s ouster.

But, to hear Eric Holder and Media Matters tell the story, Boyle preempted the congressional investigators who broke open the scandal in the first place and completely instigated the calls for Holder’s resignation. Here’s Media Matters’ take on the topic:

And so Boyle has apparently spent much of the last month calling around to Republican politicians and asking them whether they think Holder should resign. That’s creating a story, not reporting one.

And of course, since Boyle is a hack, the tone of these stories indicates a steady drumbeat of doom. One of his first stories in the series, in which he found four spokespeople for GOP members willing to commit their bosses to Boyle’s cause, declared that this indicated that Holder’s “tenure in the Obama administration may be coming to an end” as “resignation calls double overnight.”

Since that October 28 piece, Boyle has written no fewer than 23 articles which reference calls for Holder’s resignation in the headline. He has found newsworthy comments from a single obscure member of Congress, from Republican presidentialcandidates, from Sarah Palin, from a “possible” Republican Senate primary challenger, and from the president of the NRA, among others.

And here’s Big Journalism’s Mary Chastain with a quick rebuttal:

Mr. Gertz claims Mr. Holder is right about The Daily Caller being behind all the calls for Mr. Holder’s resignation. Interesting, but Holder should be pointing the finger at himself. If he and the Department of Justice didn’t allow guns to walk they wouldn’t be in this mess and have blood on their hands. God forbid Matthew Boyle, Katie Pavlich, and Sharyl Attkisson do their jobs. …

Oh MMfA, it’s not the media’s fault so many are calling for Holder to resign. Didn’t they see Perry pen his own op-ed for The Washington Times? How about the November 15th press conference the congressmen held to talk about Holder resigning? I also love how Mr. Gertz calls them “low level” Republicans. Mr. Issa is low level? How about Mr. Walsh? Mr. Mica? Mr. Allen West? Mrs. Bachmann?

Mr. Gertz could you please point out any misinformation in any of Matthew Boyle’s articles about Operation Fast & Furious? Could you also explain to me how reporting on Operation Fast & Furious moves forward the conservative agenda? Could you also explain why Mr. Boyle is wrong for calling and reporting congressmen demanding Mr. Holder to resign?

Let’s be clear here: If, before the details of the OF&F scandal became public, Matthew Boyle had called up political officials to ask “Do you think Eric Holder should resign?” for no apparent reason, that would have been “creating a story.” To call relevant political officials to ask for reaction to major news is a basic way to flesh out a story. Nothing sketchy at all about Boyle calling members of the Committee that investigated the OF&F scandal in the first place to say, “What now? Now that you know all these details about the operation, what do you think should happen — to Holder and to everyone who allowed this operation to move forward?”

Let Holder defend Fast and Furious first — and then I’ll understand better why it’s wrong to actively wonder whether anybody in the federal government thinks he should be held accountable for it.