Will the Beltway press follows Stephanopoulos' lead, cont'd

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

From Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, the answer is a resounding no.

Technically, Isikoff's Blago piece, which takes breathlessness to new heights, was likely written before Stephanopoulos' Sunday scoop about how there may be no 'there' there re: Emanuel and Blago; the angle the press is praying provides some actual spark to the soggy saga. But even if Stephanopoulos' scoop completely deflates Isikoff's almost comicly innuendo-driven report, it's still worth a look just to understand the sad state of Beltway journalism, where concocting what-if's about Democrats has become a full-time profession.

Isikoff's headline: "If I Had Subpoena Power: Five Questions for Obama."

Note right away Newsweek invokes the spector of Obama being dogged by subpoenas, which is interesting considering prosecutors have made clear they don't think Obama or Emanuel did anythng wrong in the Blago case. But Newsweek wants to create the Clinton-like impression of the Democratic president seeing supbeanas at every turn.

Isikoff's lead:

Invoking his wartime commander-in-chief authority, NEWSWEEK Editor Jon Meacham has granted yours truly, a lowly investigative correspondent, sweeping subpoena power to demand that President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team answer all my questions about their dealings with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who stands accused of putting Obama's vacant U.S. Senate up for sale to the highest bidder. (He vowed on Dec. 19 to fight the charges "until I take my last breath.") It remains unclear whether Obama's assorted spinmeisters and lawyers will honor these subpoenas-or even return my phone calls. But in the meantime, the public at least deserves to know the most crucial questions.

A couple things are telling here. Note the almost fooling around/ha-ha tone at the top; Iskikoff's editor has granted the "lowly" reporter subpeana power. See, it's a game. Newsweek's just having a laugh while it smears the president-elect by painting a false picture of him at the center of a criminal investigation, which he is not.

Second, don't you love how at the end Isikoff claim's he's only wallowing in what-if's because the public deserves to know. See, it's not the Village that's obsessed wtih the Blago story, it's the public. (We have our doubts about that.)

But this part is also priceless: Isikoff thinks the public needs to know what the most crucial questions are. Not the answers, but the questions. Why is that key? Becuase any journalist can sit around and dream up Blago-related questions. That takes no actual reporting, which is why the Blago story remains such a big hit. Answers, though? Those are much harder to produce. (Credit Stephanopoulos, he seems to have uncovered some.)

As for the hyped five questions Isikoff would ask if he could put the president-election under oath (gee, nothing presumptuous with that premise, right?), trust us, his five have been floated, literally, by every other Blago-obsessed pundit in the Beltway over the last two weeks.

Behold your press corps at work.

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