Bernie's Column: When Is a Scandal Not A Scandal?
By: Bernie GoldbergMay 16, 2013
I don’t like reading the New York Times in the morning because I’m always afraid my head will explode and that would make it difficult to go through the rest of the day.  My aforementioned head almost did explode when I read this headline on page one:

I.R.S. Focus on Conservatives

Gives G.O.P. an Issue to Seize On

Get it?  The real story isn’t that the IRS abused its considerable power by giving special scrutiny to groups with the name “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their title … or that they actually went far beyond those keywords and took aim at groups seeking to “make America a better place to live” or those who would “criticize how the country is being run.” No, the real story is that this gives Republican an issue to seize on.

Aren’t Democrats interested in seizing on this despicable behavior by one of the most powerful agencies of the federal government?  The New York Times, I’m guessing, never thought about that.

Here’s the problem, as succinctly summarized on Hot Air:

“If it’s a scandal involving Republicans, the story is the scandal. If it’s a scandal involving Democrats, the story — or at least a significant part of it — is whether and how Republicans will ‘politicize’ the scandal for their advantage.


It’s the same with Benghazi.  Liberal journalists are more concerned with how Republicans will use the apparent cover-up to hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2016 than they are with finding out what really went wrong and who tried to mislead the American people about it.

Here’s Exhibit A, a headline in the Los Angeles Times:  ““Partisan politics dominates House Benghazi hearing” … as if this is Washington politics as usual and we’re not going to learn anything from the witnesses who swore to tell the truth.

Too many Washington journalists see everything through a prism of politics.  Benghazi isn’t about the death of four Americans … it’s about the future of Hillary Clinton.  The IRS scandal isn’t about the abusive use of federal government power … it’s about how the GOP will use it to score political points.

But even if you play by these rules, why isn’t the story on page one of the New York Times about how Democrats in the Obama administration may have been going after conservative groups … for political gain?

Why isn’t the Benghazi story framed in a way that questions Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s political spin?  Is she trying to stay out of trouble precisely because she wants to run for president?  Was Mr. Obama more concerned about winning re-election, running in part on the phony premise that he had al-Qaeda on the run, than he was in admitting early on that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack in Benghazi? Is he now more concerned about his reputation than … well, than anything else?

There has been a subtle shift in how Mr. Obama’s most loyal base, the so-called mainstream media, are treating him.  When ABC News revealed the emails about Benghazi and their many re-writes to scrub any reference to terrorism (instead blaming a dopey video for the attacks) that gave mainstream journalists permission to question the president in a way they hadn’t before.  If Fox came up with those emails the mainstream media response would have been a giant yawn.

There may be a new, less adoring relationship between the slobbering media and their hero, the president – especially after it came out that his justice department got a secret court order to go through phone records of journalists at the Associated Press. Now that's something they can really get worked up over.  Benghazi? Who cares! IRS? Big deal.  But when you go after journalists, they'll turn that into Watergate, the sequel.

But if there is a new tougher relationship between the press and the president, I’m guessing it won’t last long.

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