President Obama’s failure to step out and address the Veterans Administration scandal is beginning to hurt him. At the White House briefing, Jay Carney was grilled about what Obama has personally done to address the problem. Interpreting “personally” loosely, Jay Carney said the president had dispatched an aide to gather information.
News quiz: President Obama and his communications team hope that Americans are: 1) Dumb; 2) Distracted; 3) Numb to government inefficiency; 4) All of above. Answer: 4, all of the above. That answer along with utter incompetence are the best explanations for why the White House thought it could get away with claiming that the departure of Veterans Affairs official Robert Petzel was a step toward accountability for its scandalous treatment of war veterans.Fact is, the department announced in 2013 that Dr. Petzel would retire this year.
It is hard to disagree with Fournier’s conclusion that Obama “pledged to reform the VA after blasting the Bush administration in 2007. Instead of getting better, the health care bureaucracy has worsened and become corrupted. Long delays are covered up and veterans are dying while awaiting care. It’s a policy travesty magnified by an insulting public relations strategy.”
But wait. How different is this from the myriad of other scandals that have plagued the White House? The president’s aides routinely blame others for their problems. The problems were inherited. Lower level officials were responsible. The president was ignorant; he learned about it in the media. The president is mad, really mad. Pick a scandal and fill in the blanks.
The media, having seen this routine before and suffered through 5 1/2 years of non-transparency, is now letting the president and his team have it. But conservatives shouldn’t get their hopes up that this will spark renewed interest and spur follow up in the other scandals.
In the case of the Internal Revenue scandal, we now have documentation that targeting conservative groups was not a rogue operation out of a local office, but organized in the D.C. office. That is a pretty big inconsistency in the administration’s telling. You would think it might be a topic for cable news or the White House briefings.
On Benghazi, we know that the “video made them do it” narrative came from the White House and the memo was withheld to avoid congressional oversight until dislodged by a court order. (CNN displaying CNN’s news judgment (biased as it is), Jeff Zucker says his network won’t be “shamed” into covering the hearings. Goodness knows there is no shame in nonstop coverage of the missing Malaysian airline.) Funny, CNN covered the partisan Democratic witch hunt about the Bush administration’s entirely legal dismissal of U.S. attorneys.
It is easier for the media to cover a scandal in which ordinary people, not conservative activists are the target (the IRS). It is easier for them to acknowledge a story that is not first uncovered (Fast and Furious) in conservative media. And it is easier for them to cover a scandal that does not become campaign fodder (Benghazi). There is no journalistic justification for this, but the mainstream media aversion to coverage that is seen as a benefit to conservatives (be it Dr. Gosnell or Benghazi) is a fact of life for conservative politicians.
What Republicans should keep in mind is that according to polling the public thinks even the scandals orphaned by the mainstream media are important. They’d do well not to rely on the MSM’s news judgment. They should take their oversight responsibilities seriously, follow the facts and let the public decide if “the president didn’t know” is a valid excuse or an indictment.