On May 15, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee and said this about the Justice Department’s investigation of national security leaks to journalists.
“In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material: This is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”
Except it turns out that Holder not only heard about the potential prosecution of the press, he personally approved it. After he testified NBC News broke the story that Holder had personally signed off on a search warrant to go after the phone and email records of James Rosen, the Fox news reporter. The warrant accused Rosen of conspiring to publish classified material that allegedly was leaked to him for a story about North Korea.
So what should we make of Eric Holder’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee? Did he simply forget that he was the one who approved the request for a warrant to check Rosen’s phone records and personal emails? Did he sign off on the warrant request but wasn’t really paying attention to what he was signing?
Anything, I guess, is possible – including this, which I think is much more likely: Eric Holder lied to Congress, which is a federal offense. He certainly didn’t tell the truth.
And since the president himself has said, “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs,” the obvious question arises: Will Eric Holder be forced to resign?
I’m saying, don’t bet on it.
For a scandal to take off and have serious political consequences it has to enter the bloodstream of the general population. It can’t simply be something that news junkies and political partisans in Congress care about.
So Holder will need to become a running gag on late night comedy shows. He will have to be a recurring theme on Jon Stewart’s show. And the question of whether the Attorney General of the United States – the highest-ranking legal officer in America – lied to Congress will need to become a running story on the network evening newscasts, where some 20 million people get their news.
Only then will it truly become a scandal with political consequences. And if all of that happens Eric Holder will have to go.
But what if this current outrage by reporters who see Holder’s actions as a threat to press freedom turns out to be nothing more than a lover’s spat between the press and the Obama administration — and soon goes away? What if the storyline changes from “Attorney General threatens First Amendment” to “Republicans use so-called press scandal to score political points”?
Remember, too many journalists are still too cozy with this president, whom they genuinely like and respect and in whom they have so much invested. His values are their values. His liberalism is their liberalism. As Rush Limbaugh says, they are one in the same.
One more thing: How much did the Obama administrations war on Fox News play into Eric Holder’s decision to go after James Rosen? The president and his political cronies have tried their best to convince the American people that Fox is not a legitimate news organization; that’s it’s nothing more than a wholly-owned subsidiary of the national Republican Party.
I possess no smoking gun memo from the president that says, “Go after Rosen and bring down Fox News.” That’s not how politics works in the post-Watergate era. But is it such a leap to connect a few dots and come to the conclusion that if the president, who is especially thin-skinned, detests Fox … that his attorney general might try to hurt one of its top reporters? Even accuse him of espionage?
Just because it’s crazy doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.