The Daily Caller's attempt to pass out pitchforks to GOP members of Congress and send them after Attorney General Eric Holder has now been called out by the target himself.
TPM's Ryan J. Reilly reports:
Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday told a reporter with the conservative news website The Daily Caller that the news organization was ginning up calls for him to resign over ATF's botched Operation Fast and Furious.
The reporter approached Holder after an event at the White House on the federal government's efforts to combat counterfeit goods.
"You guys need to... you guys need to stop this," TPM heard Holder tell the reporter. "There's not an organic* thing happening, you guys are behind this."
Holder was referencing Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle's month-long quest to find relatively low-ranking Republican members of Congress interested in taking a free shot at the Obama administration by calling for Holder's resignation. The putative rationale for these calls is the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious; new evidence has been revealed indicating that Holder know about the controversial tactics used in that operation.
You may remember Boyle from his public humiliation over a ludicrously false September report that the Environmental Protection Agency wants to hire "230,000 new bureaucrats -- at a cost of $21 billion -- to attempt to implement" new climate change regulations." Boyle's colleagues were reportedly embarrassed by the decision by DC executive editor David Martosko -- who has a long record in conservative political advocacy but none in journalism -- to stand behind Boyle's reporting.
At most publications, a misstep of this magnitude would have consequences. But at the Caller, it's more of a feature than a bug. And so Boyle has apparently spent much of the last month calling around to Republican politicians and asking them whether they think Holder should resign. That's creating a story, not reporting one.
And of course, since Boyle is a hack, the tone of these stories indicates a steady drumbeat of doom. One of his first stories in the series, in which he found four spokespeople for GOP members willing to commit their bosses to Boyle's cause, declared that this indicated that Holder's "tenure in the Obama administration may be coming to an end" as "resignation calls double overnight."
Since that October 28 piece, Boyle has written no fewer than 23 articles which reference calls for Holder's resignation in the headline. He has found newsworthy comments from a single obscure member of Congress, from Republican presidential candidates, from Sarah Palin, from a "possible" Republican Senate primary challenger, and from the president of the NRA, among others.
The stories feature even-handed headlines such as:
- Perry won't call for Holder's resignation, but finally takes a slight stab at Fast and Furious
- As Holder enjoys taxpayer-funded Caribbean junket, 10 percent of House members demand his resignation
- White House, DOJ silent as 34 members of Congress call for Holder's resignation
And Boyle isn't taking "no comment" for an answer. Here's his take on the GOP presidential candidates:
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have each made somewhat veiled calls for Holder's resignation. Businessman Herman Cain said he backs the members of Congress pushing for Holder to step down. [NOTE: all of these statements came in response to questioning from Daily Caller reporters]
Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have not responded to requests from TheDC regarding where they stand on the issue. Romney's campaign has refused to answer whether he thinks Holder should resign immediately. Santorum's campaign hasn't answered follow-up questions.
Either Boyle himself has been covering an awful lot of ground on this story, or his fellow Caller reporters have joined in on the fun and he's just been writing up the stories. Either way, Holder is right: This isn't a grassroots movement of conservatives calling for Holder to step down, it's a concerted effort by a supposed media organization to push him out.
UPDATE: The lede of Boyle and colleague Neil Munro's take on Holder's comments, under the headline, "Holder lashed out at The Daily Caller while refusing to address growing calls for his resignation":
Embattled Attorney General Eric Holder today demanded The Daily Caller stop publishing articles about the growing calls in Congress for his resignation because of the failed Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program.
They are definitely serious journalists, not hacks.
*Quote changed after TPM updated its piece correcting Holder's quote.