2007/03/18

Media vs the last two presidents

On December 2, 1997 Attorney General Janet Reno made an awfully defensive and detailed, by-the-book explanation as to why she did not appoint an Independent Counsel to investigate a series of fundraising calls made way back in 1994 in which President Clinton may have (Yes, they really made a Federal Case out of this) used the wrong telephone.

JANET RENO, Attorney General: Since I have been attorney general, I have referred matters to independent counsels no fewer than six times. Today, following the law's letter, I have decided that the allegations against President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary do not at this time warrant the appointment of an independent counsel. This decision was mine, and it was based on the facts and the law, not pressure, politics, or any other factor. Before I discuss these decisions I want to make one point clear: Any decision not to ask for an independent counsel does not mean that a person has been exonerated, or that the work of the campaign finance task force has ended. These decisions do not end our work.

Now, I remember reading that someone had looked over all of the editorials published in all of the big newspapers during the 1990s and the single most important issue to all of them was whether the Attorney General was sufficiently independent of the President. A reasonable enough concern, but get this:

Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace said today:

We asked Attorney General Gonzales to come on today, but the White House declined our invitation.

To repeat, Gonzales did not accept or reject his own invitation. The White House did.

If he was truly independent of the White House and its political agenda, he would control his own schedule and media appearances.

That pretty much answers the question if our attorney general is functioning as the people's lawyer, or the president's lawyer.

Gee, what happened to that fine, fine oh-so-principled stand that the papers took back in the 1990s? See especially this weeks Media Matters for another comparison of how Clinton was treated then versus how Bush is treated by the media today.

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