2014/05/21

Why some scandals are covered and some are not


Jennifer Rubin, the right-wing WaPo columnist, asks “How different is this [Veterans being treated shabbily by the VA] from the myriad of other scandals that have plagued the White House?”

Good question. First off, we can very much agree that the way veterans have been treated is indeed shameful and that something must done yesterday!

Is it the Obama Administration's fault? Of course it is, to some extent. There's also the refusal of Republicans to allocate the money necessary to fix the problem. The problem is not simply one of doing things poorly, it's also a problem of the VA no having the resources to do enough. Congress could very easily fix that part of the problem by putting enough money into it, but they had the chance to fix it and instead

U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget.

Yeah, we had an extra trillion or so dollars to spend on fighting a war of choice, but a tiny pittance of $24 billion would “bust the budget.”

Let's look at Rubin's ideas of what constitutes a true scandal:

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.

Erm, actually, we have no such thing. The Boston Herald article that Rubin links to is full of weasel words that mean far less than meets the eye. FAIR covers the emails that Rubin thinks are so significant (Starting at the 1:30 minute mark) and shows, again, that the “scandal” is considerably overstated. The IRS “scandal” is also less significant than it appears to be as progressive groups were targeted more than conservative groups were.

Here's an interesting charge:

Funny, CNN covered the partisan Democratic witch hunt about the Bush administration’s entirely legal dismissal of U.S. attorneys.

How serious a scandal was the firing of US Attorneys? As legal as the firings may have been, keep in mind that it took quite a while for non-Bush Administration insiders to even know that the US attorneys were being dismissed on a systematic basis or that the Bush Administration was behind the firings.

The White House's active involvement in the firings, as depicted in the report, can be divided into two broad categories: First, its role in initiating and promoting the overall plan to remove an unspecified number of U.S. attorneys -- traditionally treated as apolitical prosecutors who operate independently from the political agenda of the administration -- deemed insufficiently committed to the Bush agenda. And second, its apparent work in pushing specifically for several of the most high-profile dismissals.

Were the firings “entirely legal”? It's not at all clear that crimes were committed, but why was the Bush Administration so hush-hush and secretive about something they had every right to do? In December 2006 “...seven U.S. attorneys received phone calls from DOJ asking them to resign,“ but in October 2008, “ TPM says the scandal “broke early last year.”

Is Rubin a good judge of what does and doesn't constitute a scandal? I don't see any evidence that she does.

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