“…Holder’s own personal soul searching has already begun, with, among other things, the question of why he signed off on an affidavit that in retrospect he believed may have crossed the line.”
-- The Daily Beast, in an article drawn from an exclusive interview with Attorney General Eric Holder and some of his top aides.
Power Play wonders which journalists the Department of Justice will pick for “no-holds-barred” discussions about the agency’s misdeeds on the matter of the free press.
Certainly agency officials know how to get a hold of James Rosen, even if he’s visiting his parents for the weekend. So maybe he would be a good choice. The same goes for 100 journalists at the Associated Press. The guys and gals at Justice know how to reach them wherever they go. No trouble reaching any of them.
But those folks might be feeling rather crabby, having had their records snatched and, in Rosen’s case, being identified as a possible felon for having wheedled scoops out of a source.
It’s probably better to find some friendlier folks to talk to as invitations go out this week for these listening sessions about how Holder and his deputies might better deal with the media. Daniel Klaidman of The Daily Beast might be a good choice.
His piece today on Holder’s “soul searching” and quest for “balance” reflects an emerging media narrative that while Holder and his team have done wrong, it was for the right reasons and they are now ready to make some changes.
And getting that new narrative out is just as important, if not more so, for the embattled agency and its even more embattled boss. Targeting reporters and snatching their records has put some big dents in Holder’s previously pristine reputation among Washington liberals, so these discussions are a prime chance for the agency to flatter and entice reporters who help shape that opinion.
To survive this scandal, Holder needs first to mollify his critics on the left – folks like the ones at The Huffington Post who are calling for Holder to step down – and inviting them down to Main Justice to solicit their opinions on how to fix the agency would be a big step in that direction.
We may never know who all shows up for these chin wags, but we may be able to guess. The narrative we saw in Claimant’s story will be a strong indication of a journalist working with the agency. The main points of the storyline being that Holder is personally anguished, that the truth seeking G-Men of his agency just got a bit carried away trying to protect the American people and it is Republicans’ fault.
The last one of those depends on the argument that it was Republican outrage over self-serving, pre-election national security leaks from the Obama administration that pumped up the pressure on Holder and his do-rights to be so aggressive. Much as the case in the IRS scandal, the argument from the agency goes that unclear mandates and an aggressive institutional culture resulted in some quite unintentional abuses of power.
That the most flagrant offense to be revealed so far came against a news organization that has been the target of a long, aggressive campaign by Obama’s political shop, well, that’s just one more unfortunate coincidence. Those prosecutors, like the IRS agents harassing the president’s political adversaries, weren’t being ideological, partisan or retributive, even if it looks that way.
But even while this campaign to nuzzle nervous reporters is ongoing, the danger for Holder will not decrease. That’s because those folks who are indifferent to the flattery of such invitations or not in the business of beat sweetening will be looking for the other incidents of abuse, the ones they know exist but haven’t yet been revealed.
And now reporters will have the help of obliging House Republicans who are cranking up their own investigation into the abuses. Holder’s charm offensive may help him win back some previously admiring pressies and push a story about remorse and reform, but it’s the potential details about past abuses that may ultimately sink the embattled attorney general.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“If they are incited by Gitmo, it isn't over the idea of the climate that it's too hot in Cuba, because they would be incitement if you kept them in United States as well.”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET at http:live.foxnews.com.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.