Josh Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack.
Matthew Continetti writes: ;Nothing has been more tedious over the last year than the constant reminders that good journalism is “now more important than ever.” The implication, of course, is that solid, groundbreaking reporting was not as essential so long as a liberal Democrat was in power. I’ve long assumed that the factotums mouthing such clichés lack the self-awareness to understand the true import of their words. But maybe I’ve been wrong. Recent days brought evidence that, no, liberals really mean it: The only meaningful investigative work is that which reflects poorly on Republicans.
“Meyer points to congressional testimony from former Treasury official Katherine Bauer, who said last February, ‘These investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.'”
Earlier this week, for example, Politico Magazine published a story by Josh Meyer headlined “The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook.” This epic and copiously sourced piece relates how, “in its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it [Hezbollah, not the Obama administration] was funneling cocaine into the United States.”
“President Obama, in other words, slow-walked counter-narcotics efforts for the inane ‘greater good’ of paying Iran billions to pretend to shut down its nuclear program for ten years. This is the very definition of ‘stupid stuff.'”
The law-enforcement program in question is called Project Cassandra, which for eight years “used wiretaps, undercover operations, and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.”
However, as investigators came closer to unraveling the globe-spanning conspiracy, “the Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force.” Linger over that last item for a second.
“Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack. He worked for the Los Angeles Times, for NBC News, and for the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative before joining Politico as a senior investigative reporter. His Twitter feed contains plenty of criticisms of President Trump and congressional Republicans. And his story is solid.”
Meyer cites “dozens” of interviews and documents as evidence. He quotes a veteran U.S. intelligence operative — the sort of guy whose every utterance is anonymously paraded in the newspapers and magazines so long as it’s anti-Trump — who says, “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision.” And the reason for this systematic decision, presumably, was to make Hezbollah’s Iranian backers more willing to deal with the Obama administration on nukes.
“He explores different angles and gives his subjects fair comment. He’s produced a classic example of the good journalism that our betters tell us we need more than ever. Except our betters don’t like it, not one bit, because it reflects poorly on the most significant – yet dubious and controversial – achievement of Barack Obama’s second term.”
Meyer points to congressional testimony from former Treasury official Katherine Bauer, who said last February, “These investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.” President Obama, in other words, slow-walked counter-narcotics efforts for the inane “greater good” of paying Iran billions to pretend to shut down its nuclear program for ten years. This is the very definition of “stupid stuff.”
“‘Non-fact based anti-Iran Deal propaganda,’ sneers former deputy national security adviser and creative-writing expert Ben Rhodes.”
Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack. He worked for the Los Angeles Times, for NBC News, and for the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative before joining Politico as a senior investigative reporter. His Twitter feed contains plenty of criticisms of President Trump and congressional Republicans. And his story is solid. He explores different angles and gives his subjects fair comment. He’s produced a classic example of the good journalism that our betters tell us we need more than ever. Read the rest of this entry »
All democracies have one thing in common – a need for legitimacy, which is ultimately derived from the free and informed consent of the people. Some argue journalism only matters when practiced in the public interest by those who care for and seek the truth. Others see the media merely as a tool for exercising influence and believe criticism amounts to treason.
In this session, we heard from from Salman Rushdie, award-winning novelist, essayist, and former President of PEN America; Bard President, conductor and scholar, Leon Botstein; Lachlan Markay, White House reporter for The Daily Beast; American journalist, political commentator and senior editor at the online magazine The Federalist, M.Z. Hemingway; and Washington Free Beacon editor in chief, Matthew Continetti, as they explore whether the ‘truth’ is overrated and ask to what extent the right to free speech should be tempered by ethical restraint? Most importantly, they’ll discuss whether some subjects should simply be “undiscussable?”
SHADES OF RED & BLUE: Uniting Our Divided Nation is presented by Australia’s Ethics Centre, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program. Reflecting the relationship between the US and Australia, this event was full of passion, difference and a whole lot of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
The blasé manner in which the media describes opposition to Trump from within the bureaucracy is stunning.
Matthew Continetti writes:
…The same forces that opposed Trump during the Republican primary and general election are trying to break his presidency before it is a month old. At issue is the philosophy of nation-state populism that drove his insurgent campaign. It is so at variance with the ideologies of conservatism and liberalism predominant in the capital that Washington is experiencing something like an allergic reaction.
“The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. The outrage at the president’s executive order on refugees and travel was a sample of what is coming. Trump is used to fighting the media and campaign opponents, but he has little experience with the professional and supposedly nonpartisan bureaucracy.”
Nation-state populism diverges from Beltway conservatism on trade, immigration, entitlements, and infrastructure, and from liberalism on sovereignty, nationalism, identity politics, and political correctness. Its combative style and heightened rhetoric offend the sensibilities of career-minded Washingtonians of both parties, who are schooled in deference, diplomacy, being nice to teacher, and the ancient arts of CYA.
“Not only are there two Americas. There are two governments: one elected and one not, one that alternates between Republicans and Democrats and one that remains, decade after decade, stubbornly liberal, contemptuous of Congress, and resistant to change. It is this second government and its allies in the media and the Democratic Party that are after President Trump, that want him driven from office before his term is complete.”
The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. The outrage at the president’s executive order on refugees and travel was a sample of what is coming. Trump is used to fighting the media and campaign opponents, but he has little experience with the professional and supposedly nonpartisan bureaucracy. That is why his firing of acting attorney general Sally Yates was so important. She ordered her department not to defend an executive order that had been cleared by the White House counsel and her own Office of Legal Counsel. For Trump to have delayed or done nothing would have been an invitation to further subversion. He let Yates go within hours.
The blasé manner in which the media describes opposition to Trump from within the bureaucracy is stunning. “Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump,” read one Politico headline. “An anti-Trump resistance movement is growing within the U.S. government,” says Vanity Fair. “Federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives,” reports the Washington Post. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Fourier, the utopian socialist who lived from 1772 to 1837, has been on my mind. Long ago, Fourier was considered a deep, monumental, visionary thinker.
“Among Fourier’s more spectacular beliefs: One day the oceans will turn into pink lemonade. He wasn’t joking.”
His theories of social organization inspired the establishment of a communal society, the North American Phalanx, in Monmouth, New Jersey, in 1843. It collapsed a little more than a decade later.
Among Fourier’s more spectacular beliefs: One day the oceans will turn into pink lemonade. He wasn’t joking. “His temperament was too ardent, his imagination too strong, and his acquaintance with the realities of life too slight to enable him justly to estimate the merits of his fantastic views,” wrote the Scottish philosopher Robert Adamson.
As with Fourier’s North American Phalanx in the 19th century, so it is with the Juicebox Mafia Phalanx in the 21st. The Juicebox Mafia, of course, is the dismissive term assigned to the Beltway clique of twenty- and thirtysomething journalists known for their love of President Obama, their hatred of conservatives, their opposition to the war on terror, their quasi-religious faith in social science, and, above all, their earnestness.
“The Juicebox Mafia arrived in Washington a little less than a decade ago, just as the progressive left assumed its upward trajectory. Everything seems to be going their way.”
The Juicebox Mafia arrived in Washington a little less than a decade ago, just as the progressive left assumed its upward trajectory. Everything seems to be going their way. A larger government, universal health insurance, cuts in military spending, withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization—bliss it should be in this dawn for these ardent temperaments, these possessors of strong imaginations, to be alive.
And yet, reading liberal websites and magazines over the last few months, one cannot help but think that their acquaintance with the realities of life is growing increasingly slight.
Someone is filling those juiceboxes with pink lemonade. Read the rest of this entry »
For Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti reports: The facts are these. In 1975, before she married Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham defended a child rapist in Arkansas court. She was not a public defender. No one ordered her to take the case. An ambitious young lawyer, she was asked by a friend if she would represent the accused, and she agreed. And her defense was successful. Attacking the credibility of the 12-year-old victim on the one hand, and questioning the chain of evidence on another, Clinton got a plea-bargain for her client. He served ten months in prison, and died in 1992. The victim, now 52, has had her life irrevocably altered—for the worse.
“Hillary Clinton was not forced to take on Taylor as a client. It was her choice—and not, for her, a hard one. Certainly that complicates our understanding of the former first lady as an unrelenting defender and advocate of women and girls.”
Sometime in the mid-1980s, for an Esquire profile of rising political stars, Hillary Clinton and her husband agreed to a series of interviews with the Arkansas journalist Roy Reed. Reed and Hillary Clinton discussed at some length her defense of the child rapist, and in the course of that discussion she bragged and laughed about the case, implied she had known her client was guilty, and said her “faith in polygraphs” was forever destroyed when she saw that her client had taken one and passed. Reed’s article was never published. His tapes of the interviews were later donated to the University of Arkansas. Where they remained, gathering dust.
Read the University of Arkansas letter and the Free Beacon response here:
Contrary to what you may have heard over the past week, Clinton’s successful defense of the rapist Thomas Alfred Taylor is not “old news.” On the contrary: For a CV that has been scrutinized so closely, references to the rape case in the public record have been rather thin. Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew Continetti writes: Another man might have assumed, correctly, that launching a campaign of insult and insinuation against two billionaires would result in renewed attention to his own finances. Not Harry Reid. The Senate Democratic leader since 2005, and the Senate majority leader since 2007, is not one to reflect before speaking. His mouth runs far ahead of his brain.
“Reid and his family appear to work within the confines of the law, which should not be surprising, because Reid writes that law…”
In recent years Reid has declared an American war “lost” while our troops still fought overseas; praised President Obama for his “light” skin and “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”; asserted falsely and without evidence thatMitt Romney had not paid any taxes for a decade; and said “Why would we want to do that?” when asked if he would fund cancer research during the government shutdown.
“What Reid did not explain was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations, and local institutions that were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons’ and son-in-law’s firms.”
Now, with his majority in danger, his president unpopular, his floor agenda obstructed by members of his own caucus, Reid thrashes about uncontrollably. He calls Obamacare horror stories “untrue.” He says Obamacare numbers are not as high as projected because Americans “are not educated on how to use the Internet.” His Senate Majority PAC launches a $3 million ad campaign tying Republican candidates to two men most Americans have never heard of, two men who, funnily enough, are more popular than Reid.
“…the Washington Post in 2012 ‘uncovered nearly 50 members who helped direct millions of dollars in earmarks to projects that either held the potential to enhance the surroundings of a lawmaker’s own property, or aided entities connected to their immediate family,’ and one of those members was Reid.”
From the floor of the Senate Reid says these two men, Charles and David Koch, are “un-American,” are trying “to buy America.” Without the terrible specter of the Koch brothers Harry Reid would be disarmed. He has no issue for his Democratic Senators to run on; the minimum wage and climate change are not enough. Nor has he another means of inspiring donors to open their checkbooks. He only has fear, fear of the Kochs, fear of extractive industry, fear of the portion of the elite that favors economic freedom. The Koch brothers, Reid says, “rig the system to benefit themselves.” He should know.
We’re supposed to believe the Kochs are evil but leftist billionaires are disinterested givers?
Matthew Continetti writes: Some lies just won’t go away. In February the Washington Post published an article with the following headline: “Why There’s No Democratic Version of the Koch Brothers’ Organization.” It was the umpteenth attempt to explain, in a particularly simplistic manner, how the millionaires and billionaires who donate money to the Democratic party are nothing, absolutely nothing, like those meanie cancer-research philanthropists Charles and David Koch.
“Does Reid Wilson believe in Santa Claus? His willingness to suspend disbelief when confronted with the image of a mythic creature — the un-self-interested liberal — suggests as much. The words “labor” and “union” appear nowhere in his article, despite the fact that unions are six of the ten top all-time donors…”
The author, Reid Wilson, interviewed “Democratic strategists who deal frequently with high-dollar donors,” and these Democratic strategists told him, strategically, that their high-dollar donors are better than Republican ones. “For the Koch brothers, electing the right candidate can mean a financial windfall,” Wilson wrote. “Democratic donors revolve more around social issues.” On the one hand you have petty, greedy rich men, and on the other you have committed liberals willing to sacrifice for causes they believe in. The morality play writes itself. Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew Continetti writes: The school of literary criticism known asreception theory holds that a text should be studied in light of its effect on its contemporaries, that a reader should be aware of the “horizon of expectations” in which a text is produced. I was reminded of this the other day as I observed, in amusement, fascination, and occasional pity, the reaction of the so-called mainstream media to Alana Goodman’s lengthy and rock-solid report on “The Hillary Papers.” This trove of previously unexamined transcriptions of conversations between Hillary Clinton and her best friend Diane Blair had been collecting dust at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville for years. Not anymore.
As far as Bill and Hillary Clinton are concerned, the media’s horizon of expectations is stunningly narrow. It encompasses on the one hand the belief that the “secretary of explaining stuff” is a national treasure beyond reproach, and on the other hand the expectation that the former secretary of state will be our next president. Stories that fall outside of this horizon are problematized, scrutinized, ascribed to partisanship, and read with the sort of incredulity reporters are supposed to apply to public figures such as the Clintons.
Fast Times at Eighth Avenue High
Matthew Continetti writes: You are an accomplished adult, at the top of your field, working in the heart of the greatest city in the world. Important people answer your emails and phone calls. Yet there is one person in the office who bugs you, whose demeanor you find obnoxious. You want to take a stand, to let this individual know his behavior is uncalled for, imperious, despotic even. And so you do the only thing a mature and levelheaded man in your position can do: You refuse to sit with him at lunch.
Such is the case of an unnamed reporter at the New York Times, who is so upset at editorial and op-ed page editor Andrew Rosenthal that “he will literally not allow Mr. Rosenthal to join their lunch table in the cafeteria.”
I learned of this amazing passive-aggressive episode in an article by Ken Kurson, “The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page,” which appeared this week in the New York Observer. Kurson interviewed “more than two-dozen current and former Times staffers,” who heaped insult atop insult on Rosenthal and his columnist Thomas L. Friedman, accusing them of laziness, pettiness, arrogance, belligerence, nosiness, unoriginality, and ineptitude. I suppose it takes one to know one.
The president’s TV-viewing tastes are utterly typical of the American educated class
Matthew Continetti writes: Imagine my surprise this week when my daily paper suddenly turned into a copy ofUS Weekly. With a turn of the page the New York Times became the sort of celebrity magazine that dispenses trivia in order to prove that a rich, famous, and powerful person is, at heart, just like us. The luminary was Barack Obama, whose taste in television was mined by correspondent Michael D. Shear for insights into the presidential character. Shear failed to provide any, but his article was riveting nonetheless. What at first glance might be dismissed as a piece of journalistic fluff, a beat-sweetener written for the slow news days between Christmas and New Year’s, is on close examination an exercise in social positioning, an assertion of class allegiance on the part of the president and the paper.
You remember Shear. He is the same reporter who, in an interview last summer, interrupted the president to say that he, too, was aware of Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam’s existence. In “Obama’s TV Picks — Anything Edgy, With Hints of Reality,” Shear reports that the president, whose “life in the Oval Office” is marked by “war, terrorism, economic struggle,” and “mass shootings,” has a taste, “in his few quiet moments,” not for situation comedy but for drama. He indulges this taste by watching copious amounts of television.
Obama, we learn, “seeks not to escape to the delicious back-stabbing of the ‘Real Housewives,’” nor to “the frivolity of the singing teens on ‘Glee,’” but to “shows like HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire,’” as well as to “the DVD box set of AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad,’” Mad Men, Homeland, The Wire, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, and SportsCenter. “Friends say Obama is also awaiting the new season of the Netflix show ‘House of Cards.’” The president has the same attitude toward spoilers that he has toward leaks. He is against them. They might interfere with his viewing. “The president is way behind” on Breaking Bad, Shear writes, “and frequently reminds those around him not to give anything away.”
Matthew Continetti observes: How fitting that Senator Ted Cruz’s 21-hour anti-Obamacare speech on the Senate floor in Washington, D.C., happened to coincide with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly and the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Rarely is the distance separating the caste that rules our world from its few, heavily despised critics so literal.
At the midpoint of the Acela corridor, heads of state, foreign ministers, and assorted luminaries from around the world gathered to toast themselves, make new friends, snub the president of the United States, and recycle platitudes on climate change, gun control, global poverty, the health care cost curve, and the Global South, all while clogging Midtown traffic, occupying posh hotels, fooling gullible media personalities, and enjoying the best of Manhattan’s entertainment, nightlife, culture, and cuisine. Read the rest of this entry »