Eric Holder sets a trap for the Press

AG Eric Holder has the Administration's political future on his shoulders, and he's playing a desperate and cynical hand. Will it work? Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2013 ― What if the Attorney General set a trap and no one took the bait? Eric Holder, a devious but clever minion of President Obama’s, has stepped on the “lying to Congress” and “coverup” land mines, and he is trying to get himself off of them. For this, he needs the press.

This can work two ways. In one scenario, the press can willingly help him, as they did with Bill Clinton’s faux pas over suborning perjury. “It’s no big deal.” “Everybody does it.” Except that everybody does not snoop into the private phone records of Associated Press reporters. Everybody does not single out James Rosen of Fox News for secret surveillance.

Holder told Congress that he had nothing to do with, quite specifically, the Rosen debacle. Except he personally authorized the required subpoenae. That is not just skirting the First Amendment, that is also a direct lie to Congress. Both parties. This kind of stuff can get you in trouble.

So, Holder has said he wants to explain why his department treats the press the way it does and why he was compelled to lie to Congress, even as he more or less admits he committed these despicable acts. He needs a sympathetic press.

And the Obama Administration has always counted on a sympathetic press. Whether it was ACORN, Michelle’s never having been proud to be an American before her husband was put in charge of it, even the IRS tyranny and the ongoing Benghazi coverup, the press have generally done their best to cooperate in the Administration’s whitewash.

But now, there is a distrust of the President. Not his agenda (the press majority remains committed to a socialist democracy), but the man.

Take note, this dust-up may be bad for Holder and ultimately Obama, but it will do nothing to derail the agenda. Hillary’s waiting, trying to not get too much mud spattered on her, as she sorts her FBI files and sees whom she can still intimidate. Like the evil Montgomery Burns on The Simpsons, she is watching this unfold, safe on the sidelines, and muttering “Excellent!” as the rookies squirm.

Back to the subject. Why would Holder want to tell the press things he does not want the press to tell us? The answer is simple, if diabolical. Picture this, Holder greets each attendee, including their organization’s lawyers, and presents them with a little paper to sign. That paper says that whatever they discuss in the meeting they are about to attend must remain strictly confidential, from now until…forever. None of what was said, none of what was discussed, can ever become public knowledge. Breaking that pledge will be considered a federal criminal offense.

The dupes, er, compliant press, sign up, waiving their First Amendment rights, and, by extension, ours. Then Holder spills the beans. Now they know, and they cannot say anything. It is like the crook who walks out of a trial after being found not guilty: no double jeopardy! He is free to talk all about the crime!

But this is worse. The suspicious or principled press, the press that has not taken the bait, will not have the exact information. The compliant press, including The Washington Post, Politico, ABC, and USA TODAY that presumably have the information, will not be able to report it. Here is where Holder is betting the reputations of his allies in his hand. The compliant press will be expected to shill for Holder and Obama, nit-picking the analyses of what is left of the principled press, tut-tutting and saying things like, “We know what really happened, but we cannot tell you that, but what XYZ outlet is saying is far off the mark.”

In other words, Holder and Obama are betting that the American people will take the word of The Washington Post, Politico, ABC and USA TODAY over CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX News, Huffington Post, The New York Times and McClatchy Newspapers. At least, they are betting that the discord among the ranks of the anointed but muzzled press versus the principled but shut-out press will confuse Americans so much that they will not know what the truth is…and the matter will drop.

That is a long shot, the mark of a desperate player. It is also a terribly cynical and self-centered ploy, sacrificing the First Amendment, the Administration’s credibility, the perception of the American press among its public, and justice itself. No one but a sociopathic narcissist would even conceive such a trick. And maybe that is the revelation we will all be getting from this particular debacle.

There may be a ray of hope here. For years, our press corps has gotten lazy in its grassroots reporting, relying instead on confirmation from various administrations, before it reports. Perhaps this episode will force some of the press to skip a few $100 lunches with lobbyists and Administration flacks and go dig around, as James Rosen is accused of doing.

Watergate started as a trickle of information, and eventually toppled Nixon. Certainly the White House Press Corps was not tipped off on that. Iran-Contra, likewise. Bubba Clinton was just so gosh-darn lovable and his wife held so gosh darn many FBI files that he got away with multiple, acknowledged felonies, but this escapade is not “just about sex with an intern.” It is about screwing the entire nation.

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Tim Kern

Tim Kern taught economics for fifteen years, and discovered that understanding life is easy; it’s recognizing reality that takes practice. He holds a music degree, and later earned an MBA in finance from Northwestern University. He has lived across the US, and now makes his home in Anderson, Indiana.

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