Holder Contempt Vote Forces Media To Finally Cover Fast And Furious

Ever since Operation Fast and Furious came out, most of the media have avoided mentioning the scandal as much as possible, and, yes, it is a scandal. The operation was bad enough in that the federal government was making straw purchases of guns and sending them across the border without alerting the Mexican government with no intention to actually track said guns. As a result, at least two federal agents and over 300 Mexicans have been killed with guns linked to F&F. Then the stonewalling began. Had Eric Holder been a Republican appointee, the media would have been all over this. One of the few to cover it was CBS News, mostly due to the work of Sharyl Attkinson.

When the minor Valerie Plame affair came up, it was wall to wall coverage, even though everyone pretty much knew who leaked her name. And no one died. F&F? Barely a peep.

The leading US newspaper, the New York Times, has a whopping nine articles that reference F&F since this began in late 2010. Today, the editorial board has, unshockingly, come out and said that this is a “useless partisan fight.” Because getting to the root of how two federal agents died due to a botched DOJ operation and what the Attorney General knew after so much stonewalling is obviously a bad idea.

ABC News, MSNBC, the LA Times, and so on have now all been forced to cover this issue as front page stories and during their national news broadcasts, (though ABC News led with the NE heatwave on the day a House committee held the AG in contempt) which will make people say “hmmmm, what’s this all about, and why would Congress hold the AG in contempt?” Many of the media reports and op-eds are negative, saying the Republicans are big meanies and there is no point to investigating this issues, which will make people do a Google search for F&F, learning about the whole sordid affair. The Washington Post points out that invoking “executive privilege” exposes Obama 5 months out from the November elections

President Obama’s decision Wednesday to assert executive privilege to shield his attorney general and the Justice Department from congressional investigators reignited a long-running Washington debate over the limits of White House power in which Obama has argued both sides.

In 2007, Obama, then a senator with higher ambitions, chided President George W. Bush for employing his executive authority to block then-senior White House adviser Karl Rove from testifying before Congress in a scandal involving the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.

Speaking to CNN host Larry King, Obama declared that the Bush administration had a tendency to “hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place.”

Obama urged Bush to consider “coming clean,” adding that “the American people deserve to know what was going on there.”

On Wednesday, his role had changed, but the debate was the same: Republican were asking what exactly Obama was trying to hide by invoking his right to executive privilege for the first time. The administration is refusing to turn over documents related to the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” operation, which involved the flow of illegal guns to Mexico. A House committee on Wednesday voted to find Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over the documents.

One has to wonder, why exactly did the Obama administration invoke executive privilege? This is primarily used for national security issues. And it will make people wonder what they’re hiding

That might be the legal definition, but the political calculus for the White House is whether what Obama is seeking to keep private is more damaging to him than failing to publicly disclose the documents.

Only around 8% of the relevant documents have been made available to Congress, in a fight that could have been ended had Eric Holder been forthcoming during the initial investigation. One also has to wonder if Team Obama has decided to use the potential contempt charges against Holder and the subsequent use of executive privilege as yet another way to attack Congress with a shiny object distraction campaign. Team Obama really doesn’t want to discuss the track the US is heading down, which ends in disaster. But, if Team Obama tries to demonize Congressional Republicans, and by extent, Mitt Romney, over this contempt vote, it will backfire, as the American citizens will get massive doses of this fight within the media which will be forced to cover the issue, and they will want to know exactly why those guns were walked across the border and why the operation was covered up. And why the AG and Obama White House are refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

Even coming out and saying “this is no big deal, Republicans are big meanies”, the media will be forced to highlight what happened with F&F. Dana Milbank attempts to take the side of Obama and Holder, and unintentionally exposes just why Holder needs to be held in contempt.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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