Reporters Should Be Held to Account for Deceptive Reporting

In my column at Townhall this week I note the absurdity of all the networks reporting the eight U.S. Attorney firings without also mentioning the 93 firings in 1993 by Bill Clinton. I wondered how the media, who had willfully ignored the Clinton comparison for over a week, could ever report it being that the incident happened 14 years ago and was certainly known to them all along. What excuse could they come up to make that little piece of information suddenly relevant? Well, after I turned my column in, I got my answer.

On the CBS Early Show, Bill Plante finally mentioned the 1993 firings, but claimed they were different because in that case there was no accusation of political motivation. So that is why they ignored it. There was no accusation of wrong doing regarding the Clinton administration firings. I don’t have a perfect memory, but I remember well enough to know that is a bunch of garbage. Here is Plante’s statement via Newsbusters:

Mr. Bush isn’t the first president to fire US attorneys and replace them with his own appointments. At the beginning of his first term, President Clinton cleaned house, ousting all 93 US attorneys. Not unusual, they serve at the pleasure of the president. The difference this time, the charge that politics played a role in their dismissal.”

Thankfully I don’t have to rely on my memory because Newsbusters has posted a Washington Post article in which Republicans’ charged political motivation in Clinton’s firings.

Also from Newsbusters, ABC News has now, after over a week, mentioned the Clinton firings on air. Why would none of the networks have brought it up that entire first week? They certainly knew about it. Maybe they knew that if that information was presented at the same time the public first heard of the current firings they would not have believed they were any big deal. Now, however, the storyline has been set. The public has been fed a steady diet of sinister, possibly criminal, politically-motivated firings of U.S. Attorneys by the Bush administration. It doesn”t really matter what is said about the details or about the practice of previous administrations now. The public has been led to believe Alberto Gonzalez did a bad thing and must be punished.

Update: ABP shows how ridiculous the excitement over Karl Rove’s email regarding the firings is.

Read Mike Gallagher’s excellent column, “The non-scandalous scandal” for more on the firing story.

Update II: Quin Hillyer has lots of details about how the firings unfolded and about what the real problem is in the Justice Department.

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