David Zurawik

'Fast and Furious' shows Team Obama's contempt for real reporters and press

I won't retrace the whole issue here, but CBS News is long overdue for some praise at this blog for investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson excellent work on the Department of Justice's "Operation Fast and Furious."

The blowback from the White House and DOJ has been petty, nasty and has failed to responsibly address the serious charges Attkisson's reporting raises. This is exactly the White House contempt for the press that I wrote about shortly after Obama's inauguration. It's the White House I came to know when I criticized it for its war against Fox News in 2009.

Here's the gist of the "Fast and Furious" matter as reported by CBS:

New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress.

On May 3, 2011, Holder told a Judiciary Committee hearing, "I'm not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks."

Yet internal Justice Department documents show that at least ten months before that hearing, Holder began receiving frequent memos discussing Fast and Furious.

... In Fast and Furious, ATF agents allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to cross the border and fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

It's called letting guns "walk," and it remained secret to the public until Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered last December.

When Attkinson reported that White House and DOJ spokespersons "yelled and cursed" at her as she tried to do her job, the president's spokesperson, Jay Carney, essentially said such verbal abuse goes with the territory. This from the spokesperson for the president who makes all those pious public utterances about civility.

And you know what, it's nonsense. I have been yelled at and cursed out plenty by media executives and political operatives and spokespersons, and it's only the wannabes and losers who do it.

But here's the larger point that needs to be made: Team Obama is in full campaign mode, and because of their fundamental contempt for the press, that means they reward those who come on bended knee and they punish those who dare to question them.

The bended knee boys include Brain Williams, the bowing anchorman. Have you noticed how many "exclusive" interviews Obama has given NBC recently? Oh yeah, NBC is kowtowing to Obama.

No, you say, Obama is talking to NBC News because it has the highest rated morning and evening newscasts. NBC does have that, but there is no bigger tent in network TV than "60 Minutes" on CBS, and Obama used to be on there all the time. In fact, as much as I admire "60 Minutes," I questioned whether it was getting too cozy with Obama.

And that's what makes me most impressed with what CBS News is doing on the "Fast and Furious" story.

Team Obama, under the direction of David Plouffe, will try and find a way to punish CBS News for Attkisson's work, make no mistake about it. As I said two years ago, I have not seen a White House as vindictive in its dealings with the press since the one inhabited by Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. But CBS News isn't backing down so far.

Good for CBS News. Between now and next November, Obama is going to need "60 Minutes" more than "60 Minutes' will need him. Look at his sinking poll numbers versus the Top 10 ratings of "60 Minutes."

And Obama can only do so many interviews with Brian Williams before the game between him and NBC News becomes obvious to everyone.