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Reporters Should Be Held to Account for Deceptive Reporting

In my column at Townhall this week I note the absurdity of all the networks reporting the eight U.S. Attorney firings without also mentioning the 93 firings in 1993 by Bill Clinton. I wondered how the media, who had willfully ignored the Clinton comparison for over a week, could ever report it being that the incident happened 14 years ago and was certainly known to them all along. What excuse could they come up to make that little piece of information suddenly relevant? Well, after I turned my column in, I got my answer.

On the CBS Early Show, Bill Plante finally mentioned the 1993 firings, but claimed they were different because in that case there was no accusation of political motivation. So that is why they ignored it. There was no accusation of wrong doing regarding the Clinton administration firings. I don't have a perfect memory, but I remember well enough to know that is a bunch of garbage. Here is Plante's statement via Newsbusters:

Mr. Bush isn't the first president to fire US attorneys and replace them with his own appointments. At the beginning of his first term, President Clinton cleaned house, ousting all 93 US attorneys. Not unusual, they serve at the pleasure of the president. The difference this time, the charge that politics played a role in their dismissal."
Thankfully I don't have to rely on my memory because Newsbusters has posted a Washington Post article in which Republicans' charged political motivation in Clinton's firings.


Also from Newsbusters, ABC News has now, after over a week, mentioned the Clinton firings on air. Why would none of the networks have brought it up that entire first week? They certainly knew about it. Maybe they knew that if that information was presented at the same time the public first heard of the current firings they would not have believed they were any big deal. Now, however, the storyline has been set. The public has been fed a steady diet of sinister, possibly criminal, politically-motivated firings of U.S. Attorneys by the Bush administration. It doesn''t really matter what is said about the details or about the practice of previous administrations now. The public has been led to believe Alberto Gonzalez did a bad thing and must be punished.

Update: ABP shows how ridiculous the excitement over Karl Rove's email regarding the firings is.

Read Mike Gallagher's excellent column, "The non-scandalous scandal" for more on the firing story.

Update II: Quin Hillyer has lots of details about how the firings unfolded and about what the real problem is in the Justice Department.


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Comments (27)

Lorie,You are correc... (Below threshold)
Allen:

Lorie,
You are correct that Clinton fired all the USAs, as did Reagan. However you did omit one fact, neither Ronnie or Billy fired any in their second term, and Bush # 41 never fired any that Ronnie appointed.

This is completely different, and yes, the President has the right to fire any and all at any given time. But the question is not about Bush firing them, it the circumstances around the firing, and the AG may have, along with a couple of his minions, may have lied to congress.

The emails that have been made public does raise some questions. A nice committee hearing, where people are under oath, answer questions will get to the bottom of it.

All of the fired USA's are Republicans. At least two of them had very questionable calls from Congress critters or Senators, inquiring about possible charges being lodged just before the elections were held. Doesn't that make you wonder.

One USA stated that when he was hired, Ashcroft, who was the AG then, made sure that they left their political leaning at the door, they were suppose to enforce the law, non-political, go after who ever was breaking the law.

It seems the Gonzo couldn't handle that part of it, and, according to some of the documents coming out, Lam was the real target because of the corruption investigation, besides the Duke, and they wanted that shut down.

Is it true, I don't know, but there are plenty of links out there that you can go to and read the emails, ect. That is why I feel a hearing, with people under oath, needs to happen.

Our society is based on the law, and part of the law is telling the truth. Can you deny that. It isn't just the left wingers that are upset, almost every attorney in this country is upset.

Also, it is coming out that Karl Rove was involved, why was he involved, as this should be between the AG and the President, not Rove or Harriet Meirs, right?

Like I said, people need to be under oath when they testify, and if they lie, they go to jail. Do you have a problem with that?

US Attorneys are nominated ... (Below threshold)

US Attorneys are nominated and confirmed by the Senate for a four-year term. Once that term expires, their continued service is at the pleasure of the President.

Serving "at the pleasure of the President" means he can fire them at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. If political reasons are involved, so what? That's perfectly legitimate for political appointees, which these positions became as soon as their terms expired.

In the given cases, prosecutors either had poor performance records or had failed to prosecute aggressively cases in priority areas like voter fraud and illegal immigration. US Attorneys aren't judges; their independence is only that which is granted from DOJ.

I know it's tough for leftists to understand jobs where you have to do what the bosses want, but they actually constitute most jobs out there, including these.

The President is entitled to seek whatever counsel he pleases in making such decisions. It is true that these sort of changes are usually made in the year following the expiration of the original term. Again, so what?

It is indeed indicative of Bush's low approval numbers that he catches hell for firing LAWYERS.

What a bunch of crock. The... (Below threshold)
Jo:

What a bunch of crock. The liberal MSM is at it again. If you want to talk about political motivations, let's examine the IRS auditing of Clinton's political enemies and the smoking gun document that proves it was ordered by the Clinton admin.

Geeeze, we could play this game all day long. How much time does the MSM have?

Watch more and more ... (Below threshold)
Iggy:


Watch more and more GOP senators and represenatives to call for Gonzales' head. He will be gone soon enough.

ABC,NBC and CBS only presen... (Below threshold)

ABC,NBC and CBS only present a quick, condensed, and superficial version of any news story. There is not the time constraints to deal with stories in the same detail as CNN's Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper can with two hour time slots to examine all sides or as lengthy Website blogs can do.

Certainly the Clinton White House travel office firings and his firing of all U.S. attorneys by Janet Reno have been discussed daily on CNN but not on the other time constrained broadcast network news. Especially the Clinton White House travel office firings were controversial both back then as now. But the time contraints that ABC, CBS or NBC have to explain an issue is not really what's at stake here.

What makes this new recent prosecutor firing incident more controversial is the inept handling and explanations by Gonzales, the new Email that seems to implicate Rove involvement, and a White House handling that seems inept at best. Instead of amateur night about seven years into this administration, there needs to a more professional handling of situations such as this and avoiding things becoming a new crisis. At this point few Republican lawmakers have come out to justify anything because of the steady drip-drip of new details, and a wait and see sentiment to see where the other shoe falls before commenting.

Whether this blows over in a day or two, or becomes a new White House crisis really depends on whether the White House and Gonzales can offer a uniform and reasonable explanation for the prosecutor firings such as proving poor job performance on the part of these prosecutors. On the other hand, the Clinton Administration never really resolved the travel office firings with an adequate public comment, so this is still remembered today as an issue for example. However this was early into this new administration, not nearly seven years in like now, so the issue handling process should be far better than it has been.

I'm still reserving most of my judgement until more details and explanations clarify this situation. Much more is likely to come out in the next few days either resolving this or else worsening it into a new crisis. I can see it going either way at this point. How well the White house handles this story will determine it's life, and not the media.

It is long past due the... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

It is long past due the enablers of the democrat perpetual fraud and propaganda be punished for their betrayal and deceit they have perpetrated to the American People.

On the CBS Early ... (Below threshold)
Jumpinjoe:
On the CBS Early Show, Bill Plante finally mentioned the 1993 firings, but claimed they were different because in that case there was no accusation of political motivation

Huh? What? Did Clinton fire everyone by accident? Was there someone down the chain that misinterpreted Clinton's orders because they had a sloppy desk?

Of course the Clinton firings were "political".

But if a Democrat says "nut-uh", then it is so. No more questions to ask.

Hmmmmmmmmmm... a Democrat P... (Below threshold)
geobandy:

Hmmmmmmmmmm... a Democrat President fires all Republican-appointed US Attorneys, but there is "no politics" involved. That's so stupid it's insulting, of course it's "political". From Luskin's "Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid", seems the NY Times saw Clinton's actions at the time as "political":

courtesy of a March 26, 1993 New York Times story [no link available]:
Any hope that the Clinton Administration would operate a Justice Department free of political taint -- or even the appearance of political taint -- grew dim yesterday when the White House confirmed that it would dismiss the U.S. Attorney investigating one of its chief Congressional allies.
When Attorney General Janet Reno first announced the blanket dismissal of about 70 United States Attorneys who are Bush Administration holdovers, her aides said she might exempt those needed to wrap up significant investigations. But...Those booted out would include U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens of the District of Columbia, who...is in the middle of an investigation of irregularities in the House of Representatives and a detailed financial auditing of one of the most powerful House Democrats, Dan Rostenkowski, chairman of Ways and Means.
http://www.poorandstupid.com/2007_03_11_chronArchive.asp#5270888124224198165

Who will be the first in... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

Who will be the first in the Democrat Media to report on the criminal democrat party of fraud?

"4 get jail in election day tire slashing
Judge says probation doesn't atone for crime"

Oh and for two weeks straight 24/7 weeks before an election?

Who is disenfranchising voters? Democrats

Who is the party of election fraud? Democrats

Who claimed that 85% of felons vote democrat?

DEMOCRATS! THAT WHO!

Lorie:Should blogg... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Lorie:

Should bloggers like you "be held to account" for your "deceptive reporting?" Your intellectual dishonesty on this piece exceeds your usual shading of the actual facts. And of course the red meat you toss to the true believers who respond works just as expected doesn't it?


Should bloggers l... (Below threshold)
Jumpinjoe:
Should bloggers like you "be held to account" for your "deceptive reporting?"

What part was deceptive? The part where Clinton fired the U.S. attorneys or that Clinton's firings were not political?

Really, inquiring minds want to know.

Hey hugh , shutup stupid. ... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

Hey hugh , shutup stupid. There are four of your buddies that are going to need money on their books , quick a fund raiser for the criminal democrats.

Well, Hugh apparently feels... (Below threshold)
kim:

Well, Hugh apparently feels better after that movement.
====================================

Lori, what a load of crap. ... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Lori, what a load of crap. I have heard the "Clinton" example dozens of times on network and cable new shows.

What Clinton did is totally different. Republicans appointed attorneys for the 12-years prior, and attorneys have 4-year appointments, so almost all if not all served their full terms and then some.

All of Clinton's appointments were nominated and confirmed by the Senate. Bush is using the Patriot Act to appoint Attorneys with oversight or review.

The CLinton replaced attorneys, Bush fired the attorneys. Big difference on a resume.

No one in Clinton's administration lied to Congress on the reasons for the change. Gonzo lied.

Thank you Barney. I didn't ... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Thank you Barney. I didn't want to bother telling the red meat eaters what the truth is since they wouldn't believe it anyway. As fopr Lorie, I've come to expect this king of post from her.

Oh, just go read Patterico ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Oh, just go read Patterico about this. He'll give you a nice clue to how the LATimes propagandized all you 'useful idiots'.
==================================

What a bunch of crock. T... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

What a bunch of crock. The liberal MSM is at it again. If you want to talk about political motivations, let's examine the IRS auditing of Clinton's political enemies and the smoking gun document that proves it was ordered by the Clinton admin.

It's worse. Even single woman accuser of Clinton was audited by the IRS.

This is nothing but a circus to embarass Bush. He ought to be at a microphone explaining that he can indeed remove these USA's at his pleasure, political motive or not.

Or make the Democrats spit it out.

The CLinton replaced att... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

The CLinton replaced attorneys, Bush fired the attorneys. Big difference on a resume.

Say what? No one had ever removed all 93 at once. Clinton replaced 123 USA's all together, not just 93. Nice try, Barney.

No one in Clinton's administration lied to Congress on the reasons for the change. Gonzo lied.

Really? I guess just not telling Congress you're removing all 93 USA's to rid yourself of the USA from Arkansas is not a lie, eh?

And if they were removed for poliical reasons, so what?

It is an illiberal idea tha... (Below threshold)
kim:

It is an illiberal idea that prosecutors should not be subject to policy review. Judges no, but how else is the body politic to impact prosecution. Imagine the reverse; prosecutors not subject to recall.

Really, all you liberals; think about it.
=======================

The analogy between what Cl... (Below threshold)

The analogy between what Clinton did when he came to office and what happened with these eight is intellectually dishonest. Media bias has nothing to do with what's going on here, politics was at work in at least one firing(The guy from NM whose name evades me).

Lorie's kneejerk response to this is predictable coming from a person who thought John Murtha could get beaten by D. Irey and didn't think the GOP would lose the house last November.

Bill

The CLinton repla... (Below threshold)
Jumpinjoe:
The CLinton replaced attorneys, Bush fired the attorneys

Don't you have to "fire" someone before you replace them with another?

I say Clinton fired them......

P.S.....here is my preemptive response since I have to go to work.

~DID TOO~

One USA stated tha... (Below threshold)
jpe:
One USA stated that when he was hired, Ashcroft, who was the AG then, made sure that they left their political leaning at the door, they were suppose to enforce the law, non-political, go after who ever was breaking the law.

It seems the Gonzo couldn't handle that part of it, and, according to some of the documents coming out, Lam was the real target because of the corruption investigation, besides the Duke, and they wanted that shut down.

That's the story. The networks shouldn't mention Clinton's firings because they're entirely irrelevant.

Lam had already served for ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Lam had already served for 4 years and was terrible at prosecuting illegal immigration cases.

The Dems seem to not comprehend the concept of Presidential powers --- the same powers they seemed to overstate under Clinton.
-=Mike

Democrats could not "get" R... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Democrats could not "get" Rove with Plame, so they're going to embarass him with this pathetic effort.

An investigation into legal acts.

Next thing you know, Democrats will be holding hearings accusing Bush of sleeping in the White House.

Democrats are terminally stupid.

"Reporters Should Be Held t... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"Reporters Should Be Held to Account for Deceptive Reporting"

Says the woman who links to Michelle Malkin daily...

Well, it looks like the Rep... (Below threshold)
ChrisO:

Well, it looks like the Republicans are winning the message battle on this one so far. The White House would love it if everyone kept saying these firings were politically motivated, because the bottom line is that Bush has every right to fire USAs for political reasons. It might make him look bad politically, but it's perfectly legal.

The real issue here is whether the USAs were fired because they weren't prosecuting individuals the WH wanted prosecuted, or were conducting investigations of Republicans the WH wanted stopped. That's why so much of this revolves around Domenici and Wilson in New Mexico, because they were trying to intimidate the USA to indict Democrats right before the election. That is illegal.

Or in Washington state, where the Republicans were leaning on the USA to indict Dems for voter fraud, even though he had found no evidence of it.

Or in Southern California, where Lam was comnducting an investigation that had already reached into the White House appointees at the CIA.

So for those who want to see the truth come out, stop screaming "politics!" You're just playing into their hands.

"Or in Washington state, wh... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

"Or in Washington state, where the Republicans were leaning on the USA to indict Dems for voter fraud, even though he had found no evidence of it."

Really ? was there even an investigation? a real ivestigation?




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