Right-wing media attack Holder for launching investigation into oil spill

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

Led by Fox News, right-wing media have attacked Attorney General Eric Holder over his announcement that the Justice Department has begun civil and criminal investigations into the Gulf oil spill. Their attacks echo previous criticism from Fox and right-wing media figures over SEC charges and congressional hearings into Goldman Sachs and hearings into a Toyota vehicle recall.

Fox News, right-wing media attack Holder, administration over investigation into oil spill

Kilmeade suggests criminal inquiry into oil spill "just tank[ed] the market," asks, "Was that smart?" On the June 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade stated, "The Department of Justice is probing for a myriad of reasons, it looks like, into BP and what they've done and what they could have violated." He then suggested that the announcement of the investigations "drop[ped] BP's stock 15 percent" and "just tank[ed] the market," and asked, "Was that smart?" Co-host Steve Doocy replied, "Maybe not, because if they're facing all these lawsuits, suddenly, where's that money going to come from?"

Johnson Jr.: "This prosecution is becoming a distraction." Also during the June 2 Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. stated that the administration's response was "a little bit delayed" and that "[t]his prosecution is becoming a distraction."

Krauthammer: "[D]eclaring war on the oil company, at this time, and in a criminal way, I think is really distasteful." On the June 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer stated of Holder's announcement: "I think what the attorney general did today is somewhat over the line ... I might have missed it but I didn't hear a syllable about what evidence he has of criminal activity here." Krauthammer later said: "So they want to make it look like they are doing something, but declaring war on the oil company, at this time, and in a criminal way, I think is really distasteful. It's not going to help anybody."

Varney: "All it does is divert attention. You demonize and divert attention from your responsibility." Discussing the investigation on the June 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox Business host Stuart Varney asked: "What good does it do to threaten criminal charges to try to ruin British Petroleum? What good does it do?" He then stated: "All it does is divert attention. You demonize and divert attention from your responsibility."

Washington Times: Investigation is "a counterproductive distraction from the urgent task of keeping oil off the shorelines." In a June 1 editorial titled, "Eric Holder's oily mission," The Washington Times stated that Holder's trip to the Gulf Coast and announcement of the investigations "was a counterproductive distraction from the urgent task of keeping oil off the shorelines." From The Washington Times editorial:

As with terrorism, so with an unprecedented ecological disaster: The Obama administration's most definitive response is to send in the lawyers. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s high-profile trip to the Gulf Coast yesterday was a counterproductive distraction from the urgent task of keeping oil off the shorelines of three states whose beaches and marshes are being fouled this very week.

Mr. Holder and President Obama both made a big show of wanting to "bring those responsible to justice." That's fine, but how about saving the marshes and beaches before worrying about affixing legal blame?

For one thing, BP should not have its own attention diverted. Capping the gusher and directing offshore cleanup efforts already are big enough tasks without needing to monitor a visit by a politicized attorney general bent on pursuing criminal charges. Certainly the oil company should pay, in every way, for this accident, but only after the immediate task of ecological salvation has been accomplished.

[...]

Mr. Obama does, however, find time to send down Mr. Holder for a photo-op, as if this disaster were all about law enforcement. Mr. Holder cannot be bothered to investigate three allegations of illicit White House job offers in return for forgoing Senate races, and he can't be bothered to investigate New Black Panther Party voter intimidation or to respond adequately to questions about which lawyers are handling Guantanamo Bay detainee cases and why. But he has plenty of time to travel to the Gulf and talk tough about criminal inquiries. That's the very definition of "slick."

BigGovernment post: Administration is conducting investigation rather than "stemming the ongoing oil spill." In a post published June 1 on BigGovernment.com, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) wrote: "President Obama has once again shown his lack of judgment, by sending Attorney General Eric Holder down to the Gulf of Mexico to investigate possible litigation. ... Instead of concentrating on stemming the ongoing oil spill, the Obama administration is opening up a new gusher, full of litigation and trial lawyers."

Powers: "Holder en route to the Gulf in a heroic, last-ditch attempt to plug the oil leak with subpeonas [sic]." In a June 1 post on Michelle Malkin's website, guest-blogger Doug Powers mocked Holder's announcement of investigations, writing: "[T]he Attorney General is en route to the Gulf in a heroic, last-ditch attempt to plug the oil leak with subpeonas [sic]. If he gets real desperate he can stuff the Arizona immigration law down there -- he's not reading it anyway."

Fox News, right-wing media previously attacked SEC charges against Goldman Sachs, hearings into possible fraud

Fox News' MacCallum asks if SEC's lawsuit was "timed to bolster support" for financial reform. During the April 21 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum stated, "Well, there's some brand new questions today about the timing of the charges that were brought against Goldman Sachs. Was the announcement of the SEC suit -- was it timed to bolster support for the crackdown on the banks from the White House? That is what the leading Republican on the House Oversight Committee wants to know today." MacCallum subsequently played video of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) stating that the SEC was "trying to pick a time to maximize the press rather than to minimize the impact to the market." Fox News contributor Dana Perino said that she found it "a little hard to believe that nobody in the White House knew" and that the accusations were "worth checking out."

Carlson: "[T]he timing's perfect because maybe it was planned." On the April 21 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson responded to comments made by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) that "the timing was perfect" and stated: "Yeah, the timing's perfect because maybe it was planned. I mean, some people are questioning whether or not the timing of this investigation against Goldman Sachs was planned to get the American public even more up in arms about the way in which Wall Street operates. And it would be perfect timing to then say, 'Hey, how about financial reform?' "

Carlson suggests Goldman Sachs investigation, financial regulation reform "was all timed to the president's benefit." On the April 28 edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson stated: "If you don't think that all this was timed at the same time, to talk about financial reform and to bring Goldman Sachs in front of all those members of Congress -- I think this all timed to the president's benefit."

Krauthammer compares Goldman Sachs hearing to Inca executions. On the April 27 edition of Special Report, Krauthammer stated of congressional hearings into Goldman Sachs, "When the Incas had a crop failure, they would take somebody up on the hill and they would execute them. This process is the same, except it has a little less dignity."

Napolitano: "There was nothing illegal" in charges brought by SEC against Goldman Sachs. On the April 26 edition of Fox News' Studio B, Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano said, "There was nothing illegal in the events described in the lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission" against Goldman Sachs.

Fox & Friends: Goldman "[c]harges a ploy for support of reform?" On the April 19 edition of Fox & Friends, Varney pushed the right-wing media conspiracy theory that the administration coordinated the timing of SEC's civil suit against Goldman Sachs to gain support for financial regulation reform. Varney said that "the timing is absolutely perfect. Wall Street looks very bad. It looks like Wall Street really was responsible for the panic of '08, just days before the politicians attempt to put a collar on Wall Street, reform it, root and branch, and really get it under control. The timing is absolutely perfect. It has shifted public opinion even more in favor of really solid reform of Wall Street and made Wall Street even more unpopular than it was a week ago." Varney claimed it was "very likely" that we would see other banks accused of wrongdoing to "keep up the political pressure." During the segment, Fox & Friends aired on-screen text stating, "Charges a ploy for support of reform?" and "Just a coincidence? Goldman charged as WH pushes reform bill."

Erickson accuses administration of "colluding to destroy Goldman Sachs." In an April 19 RedState.com blog post, titled, "Is the White House, SEC, and DNC Colluding to Destroy Goldman Sachs to Pass Financial Reform?" Erick Erickson claimed there were "seriously troubling questions about the level of collusion between the SEC, White House, and DNC to get Financial Reform passed." Erickson added: "This is serious stuff. Just ask yourself what the reaction in the media would be if the Bush White House had done this." Erickson summarized the "timeline" of events and accused the Obama administration of "using the full arms of the government, including quasi-independent government agencies, and outside interest groups to create bad guys with which to pass ever creeping socialist reforms that will continue to cripple innovation in this country."

BigGovernment: "The Obama Administration, once again, is in need of a villain to serve as a political piñata." On April 19, BigGovernment called Goldman Sachs "Obama's newest villain." The post claimed: "The Obama Administration, once again, is in need of a villain to serve as a political piñata, and it is now clear that Goldman Sachs has been selected to fill the villain void." Big Government also claimed: "[J]ust as Financial reform was crawling on its belly, going off to die, the 'crisis' with Goldman Sachs suddenly occurred. How remarkably convenient! Suddenly, the financial reform legislation has new life, and a pitchfork campaign to further demonize Goldman Sachs is in full gear."

Limbaugh: Goldman case "shaky on purpose" and "[t]hey want this case tried in Congress." On the April 20 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh stated: "I say, [the case against Goldman Sachs] is shaky on purpose. Meaning, they don't intend to win this case. They're not going for a conviction. They don't care about what happens in court. They want this case tried in Congress."

Limbaugh: Democrats creating "phony anger over class envy" in Goldman Sachs hearings. On the April 27 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh accused Democrats of using the Goldman Sachs hearings to create "phony anger over class envy."

Fox News, right-wing media also attacked congressional hearings into Toyota recall; claimed government "is going after Toyota"

Beck on hearings: "The government now owns GM and Chrysler and they're taking the opportunity to annihilate their competitor." On the February 24 edition of his Fox News show [accessed via Nexis], Glenn Beck criticized congressional hearings into Toyota's recall of millions of cars over safety issues, stating, "The government now owns GM and Chrysler and they're taking the opportunity to annihilate their competitor." He later asked, "Do we really need Congress, the direct competitor of Toyota, to correct the problem?" Beck further stated: "Is there any bigger waste of time than Congressional hearings? Seriously. The only thing America ever learns from these hearings is which congressman or senator is, you know, is the best one at hogging the camera."

Beck: "I think that's a possibility" that U.S. is "bullying Toyota to recall all of their cars only to help Government Motors." On the February 5 edition of his radio show, Beck stated: "A story coming out on Toyota -- is the U.S. bullying Toyota to recall all of their cars only to help Government Motors? I think that's a possibility."

Moore: "[C]ongressmen went after Toyota so much ... because the government owns General Motors." On the February 24 edition of Fox News' On the Record [accessed via Nexis], Fox News contributor Steve Moore stated: "My theory, by the way, is the reason that congressmen went after Toyota so much is because the government owns General Motors so they want people to buy General Motors' cars, not Toyota."

Cavuto: Is recall about "getting Americans' bottoms into maybe American union-made cars?" On the February 3 edition of Fox News' Your World, Neil Cavuto asked: "Well, is all of this about getting to the bottom of the car crisis, then, or getting Americans' bottoms into maybe American union-made cars?" Cavuto hosted guest and New York Jeep dealer Jim Anderer, who asserted that "it is really interesting that Toyota has this problem, and it seems like this administration is using it as an excuse to prop up the UAW and the Teamsters." Anderer then claimed, "It's their modus operandi. They do this all the time. Any excuse that they have, they're going to use a crisis to enhance the unions or forward their agenda." Cavuto cited the "fortuitous timing" of the Toyota recall, adding, "That is good timing for the bailed-out American companies, that all of a sudden -- this is like a perverse gift from heaven."

WND's Roger Hedgecock: Obama is waging a "jihad against Toyota...is government 'greed' a factor here?" In a February 1 WorldNetDaily column, radio host Roger Hedgecock questioned whether President Obama is waging a "jihad against Toyota" due to "government 'greed'" and a desire to exact "revenge against a successful, non-union, red state based rival."

RedState: "Are we really supposed to believe this is all a coincidence?" In a February 2 RedState post, Edward Mosby wrote:

We are now supposed to believe, then, that the Obama administrations only interest in sticking it to Toyota is to protect US consumers from an alleged defect that has yet to be fully proven? Even after the UAW donated millions to The One's campaign? Even though the government has a major stake in GM? Even when the president's Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, brags about how they went to Toyota's headquarters in Japan to "wake them up?" Even after Lahood smears Toyota as "safety deaf" and threatens that they're "not done with Toyota?"

Are we really supposed to believe this is all a coincidence?

Examiner editorial: "Gangster government targets Toyota." In a February 4 editorial headlined, "Gangster government targets Toyota," The Washington Examiner stated:

Given the Obama administration's catering to one of its favorite special interest groups, the United Auto Workers union, during the government's bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler last year, it is difficult to avoid wondering whether Toyota has become a victim of the Chicago Way of dealing with competitors. Toyota overtook GM several years ago as the world's leading automaker. The potential of the current sticking gas pedal controversy to inflict damage on Toyota here in its largest single market is seen in the January sales figures. Toyota sales are down 16 percent while GM is up 14 percent (Ford, which declined a government bailout last year, is up 25 percent, while Chrysler is down 8 percent). Keep the controversy going and odds are good that Toyota sales will continue to drop. The biggest losers besides American consumers will be the men and women who own and work at Toyota's 1,200 U.S. dealerships and the 30,000 Americans who build Toyotas in its five factories here. LaHood might as well have said "Nice car company ya got there, be a shame if anything happened to it."

Limbaugh: Obama administration is "going after Toyota" through "thug politics." On the February 4 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh said: "Now these guys are going after Toyota. Thug politics. The General Motors-Chrysler owners are going -- the government -- is going after Toyota.

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