Seriously, it’s like 40 years ago, all over again:
In her memoir Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, Attkisson looks back on the final years of her network career. One concludes from her book that Attkisson encountered more difficulty practicing her profession at CBS News during Obama’s tenure than at any other time. She reached an agreement for her departure from CBS News in March 2014, well before her contract was to expire.
The book’s subtitle refers to the difficulties Attkisson encountered in “Obama’s Washington.” The term is in part a euphemism for the Obama administration, but it also reflects the support for the administration within CBS News. The head of CBS News is David Rhodes, brother of Obama national-security adviser Ben Rhodes.
Let’s digest that for a moment. I write a lot about the Democrat-Media Complex, but this is as bad as it gets—tied, I suppose, with Al Sharpton on MSNBC, George Stephanopoulos on ABC, David Axelrod wherever he is, Mr. and Mrs. Jay Carney wherever they are, crony capitalist Jeffrey Immelt, head of GE (parent corporation of the the NBC networks), etc. ad nauseam.
Each of the scandals falls into a larger pattern of scandal management practiced by the Obama White House. (The reader can infer how the IRS scandal fits the pattern precisely to a T.) Her book is invaluable for how it analyzes and exposes this pattern, combining her reportage and her behind-the-scenes work at CBS News.
The pattern begins with blatant denials — bald lies — and stonewalling. Attkisson deftly articulates one of the bona fide occupational qualifications for service as a spokesperson in the Obama administration. Referring specifically to HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters, whom Attkisson had caught lying to her, she writes: “It takes a certain kind of person to be untruthful and then display utter lack of contrition when caught.”
You say Joanne Peters, I hear Haldeman and Erlichman.
Also, rather than responding to straightforward inquiries, administration spokesmen pump reporters for the information they have so they can undermine it. Attkisson calls this technique “pump and mine.” The administration then plants slanted leaks to friendly bloggers and reporters; next, it characterizes any advances in the story as “old news.”
Attkisson also shows how the administration, using a technique she calls “controversialization,” disparages any sources and reporters who move the story forward. As she recounts in the book, Attkisson has extensive personal experience being at the receiving end of this technique.
She singles out Media Matters as the main outlet that moves administration spin into the mainstream media. As Attkisson demonstrates, however, the power of Media Matters derives from the complicity and cooperation of its many allies in the media, i.e., the many Obama allies in the media.
Perhaps the greatest PR coup of all is that the administration’s expert spinners successfully lead the media by the nose down the path of concluding there’s no true controversy unless there’s a paper trail that lays blame directly on the president’s desk. Time and again, with each scandal and each damaging fact, Democrats and the White House read from the script that says, “there’s no evidence President Obama knew” or “there’s no evidence of direct White House involvement.” Anything short of a signed confession from the president is deemed a phony Republican scandal, and those who dare to ask questions are crazies, partisans, or conspiracy theorists. . . .
Under President Obama, the press dutifully regurgitates the line “no evidence of White House involvement,” ignoring the fact that if any proof exists, it would be difficult to come by under an administration that fails to properly respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, routinely withholds documents from Congress, and claims executive privilege to keep documents secret.
You say Barack Obama, I hear Richard Nixon.
Attkisson bookends her accounts of the Obama-administration scandals she covered with the story of what she describes as coordinated intrusions into her telephones and computers. She was working on the Benghazi story when a friendly source “connected to a three-letter agency” offered a surprising observation. “The administration is likely monitoring you — based on your reporting,” the source advised her. She had, in fact, been having troubles with her phones and computers, which were behaving oddly.
Three sets of experts — including experts hired by CBS — examined her computers. All reached the same conclusion: She was the victim of computer intrusion and monitoring. One expert found classified government documents secreted in her hard drive, though she had not placed them there and had nothing to do with them. She believes that they were placed there by the intruders for use against her at an appropriate time.
The Department of Justice has issued two statements on Attkisson’s case. In response to Attkisson’s first public mention of her experience, in the course of a radio interview, the Department of Justice said:
To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never “compromised” Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use.
You say Justice Department, I hear Justice Department.