Dear Members of the Associated Press, you should have known this would happen. Just as in every classic monster movie, the creature’s creator is destined to meet a violent end at the hands of their creation.
In the current real-life horror show (Jim Geraghty at National Review Online has a good inventory of the scandalous acts — admitted and alleged — of the Obama administration), the AP now finds itself in the grip of a behemoth that it lovingly fed and nurtured to maturity. By giving controversies involving Obama’s enemies ample exposure (the out-of-context media feeding frenzy regarding Romney’s careless “47 percent” remark is a notable example), while either ignoring or giving the equivalent of a princess wave to potential corruption within the Obama administration, the AP and others sent a clear signal to the Executive Branch that it need not worry about facing scrutiny.
Now, like the doomed Dr. Frankenstein who was blinded by the belief that his creation was needed to save humanity and advance the cause of science — (Hmmm, is that similar to the subtle press narrative swaddling Pres. Obama since his first presidential campaign?) — the AP and others are learning a lesson in what happens when journalists forget that a free society relies on the press to be a menacing watchdog against all abuses of power, not a nursemaid to the creation of a political prodigy.
Because voters only have a say every several years in terms of weeding out the good from the bad among those elected to high office, in the meantime, the press are given freedom in order to pose a credible deterrent to abuses of power. Reporters mind the cage containing a government that is capable of immense power. In an ideal world, journalists should react prudently but aggressively to any reach by government through the bars of its cage, a containment strategy that starts with rigidly delivering public floggings to politicians who overreach. What we have seen thus far from the Obama Era press has been far from that ideal.
In that sense, the AP must admit some responsibility for Obama’s administration full metamorphosis into the power-drunk organization it appears to be today, because its birth was aided in no small manner by the stupendous lack of interest of reporters in the AP and elsewhere in covering a pattern of questionable behavior. Before the current scandals over the Justice Department monitoring of AP phones, the building reality that the White House actively deceived the public on Benghazi, the admission that the IRS singled out conservative groups for bureaucratic bullying, even before Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ Obamacare slush fund (the weight of all the other scandals seems to have pushed that one between the sofa cushions) there were other signs that perhaps Team Obama was something other than a gaggle of angels.
One only needs to peruse the pages of the Obama Scandalpedia (we’ve put ours in a three-ring binder to make adding entries easier) to recognize that the White House has been testing its boundaries for some time without even a growl from the watchdogs at AP and elsewhere in the press. A couple of entries to refresh your memory:
- Only a few weeks after Obama’s first-term inauguration, his White House initially stonewalled requests for information about an unannounced, low-level flyover of downtown New York City by “Air Force One.” Subsequent documents released indicate no red flags were raised inside the White House about the downsides of joyriding the president’s airlift over the heads of NYC residents still reeling from the devastating terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
- And who can forget the infamous post-conviction spiking of a voter intimidation case against high-ranking members of the New Black Panther Party by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department? Most of America can forget it, because most of America never heard about it.
If there is a silver lining, it may be that the serious abuse of government power to monitor the press — a transgression of foundational principle on which the entire burden of a free society is supported — will ensure that, at least in the near-term, there will not be much that slips past the watchdog without a great deal of growling, barking, and flashing of teeth.