The New York Times allowed retired F.B.I. senior official Ron Hosko to criticize President Obama over his recent comments concerning the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server without explaining that Hosko is the president of a right-wing organization.
New York Times Turns To Former F.B.I. Official With Right-Wing Ties As Only Named Source
New York Times Report Claims Obama "Angered" F.B.I. Agents, Citing Anonymous Sources And Well-Known Obama Critic. The New York Times cited former F.B.I. senior official Ron Hosko alongside anonymous sources in an an article about supposed anger among F.B.I. agents over President Obama's comments about Clinton's e-mail server during a recent 60 Minutes interview. Obama told 60 Minutes that he did not believe Clinton's private email server created "a situation in which America's national security was endangered." The Times quoted Hosko accusing Obama of inappropriately commenting on an ongoing investigation, without explaining that the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) that Hosko heads is a right-wing group:
Investigators have not reached any conclusions about whether the information on the server had been compromised or whether to recommend charges, according to the law enforcement officials. But to investigators, it sounded as if Mr. Obama had already decided the answers to their questions and cleared anyone involved of wrongdoing.
The White House quickly backed off the president's remarks and said Mr. Obama was not trying to influence the investigation. But his comments spread quickly, raising the ire of officials who saw an instance of the president trying to influence the outcome of a continuing investigation -- and not for the first time.
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment. But Ron Hosko, a former senior F.B.I. official who retired in 2014 and is now the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said it was inappropriate for the president to "suggest what side of the investigation he is on" when the F.B.I. is still investigating.
"Injecting politics into what is supposed to be a fact-finding inquiry leaves a foul taste in the F.B.I.'s mouth and makes them fear that no matter what they find, the Justice Department will take the president's signal and not bring a case," said Mr. Hosko, who maintains close contact with current agents. [The New York Times, 10/16/15]
Hosko's Organization, The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, Has Right-Wing Ties
Right Wing Watch: LELDF "Prop[s] Up Right-Wing Organizations To Which They Have Ties." In a November 2008 article, Right Wing Watch cited The Hartford Courant most of the organization's funds went to leadership salaries and to "prop up" conservative groups including The American Spectator, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Federalist Society:
The Hartford Courant raises some interesting questions about just what the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund - a right-wing Virginia non-profit organization overseen by the likes of Ed Meese, William Bradford Reynolds, and Al Regnery - is doing with the funds it has been raising because it seems like most of it is going to toward fund-raising, salary for its leadership, and to prop up right-wing organizations to which they have ties, like The American Spectator, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Federalist Society. [Right Wing Watch, 11/28/08]
LELDF Board Of Directors Is Filled With Conservative Activists. LELDF board members include conservative publisher Alfred Regnery, Reagan-era attorney general Edwin Meese, Kenneth Blackwell, a conservative activist and former GOP candidate with ties to the NRA and Family Research Council, and former Virginia attorney general and Republican candidate for Virginia governor Ken Cuccinelli. [Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, accessed 10/16/15]
Hosko Has Previously Made Inflammatory Comments About Policing
Hosko Called Eric Holder "Chief Among The Antagonists" Of Unrest In Ferguson, Missouri. During unrest following the police shooting death of Michael Brown, Hosko wrote a letter in his capacity as LELDF president calling then Attorney General Eric Holder "chief among the antagonists." Hosko also criticized Holder for launching an investigation into the Ferguson Police Department, claiming, "America will still remember the way their senior federal executives turned their back on them with oft-repeated suggestions that race-based policing drives a biased, broken law enforcement agenda":
I write you today to respectfully raise concerns on behalf of a law enforcement community across America that is discouraged by an abundance of news that suggests the federal government has turned its back on them. The hyper-politicization of justice issues has made it immeasurably more difficult for police officers to simply do their jobs. The growing divide between the police and the people - perhaps best characterized by protesters in Ferguson, Mo., who angrily chanted, "It's not black or white. It's blue!" - only benefits of members of a political class seeking to vilify law enforcement for other societal failures. This puts our communities at greater risk, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Your attorney general, Eric Holder, is chief among the antagonists. During his tenure as the head of the Department of Justice, Mr. Holder claims to have investigated twice as many police and police departments as any of his predecessors. Of course, this includes his ill-timed decision to launch a full investigation into the Ferguson Police Department at the height of racial tensions in that community, throwing gasoline on a fire that was already burning. Many officers were disgusted by such a transparent political maneuver at a time when presidential and attorney general leadership could have calmed a truly chaotic situation.
It won't be long before the American people turn their attention to other matters. Long after Ferguson is forgotten, police officers across America will still remember the way their senior federal executives turned their back on them with oft-repeated suggestions that race-based policing drives a biased, broken law enforcement agenda. [Ron Hosko, 11/11/14]
Ron Hosko To Eric Holder: "It's Time To Cut Darren Wilson Down From That Tree." On the January 22 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, Hosko suggested that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown, had been symbolically lynched, claiming that Eric Holder wanted cops to "watch" the lynching:
HOSKO: Is this incompetence out of DOJ or is this some grander design to influence? And my fear is, look at the influence that it's had so far in those five months. Look at the protests -- when you were talkingearlier about Yemen. The parallels in some of your comments relate to this case. We're talking about people hollering for the deaths of Americans. Here in our own country on the streets of New York, we have people hollering for the deaths of cops. We are looking for leadership, we are looking to start this conversation on race, the starting point should be the truth. And if you look back to August the 9th, the truth was a young officer was trying to defend himself against a violent attacker, and he took the steps that cops across this country would take. My concern is, all those cops are watching. and my advice is, Mr. Holder, it's time to cut Darren Wilson down from that tree. It's time to cut him loose, cops are watching. Apparently you want them to watch this show. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 1/22/15]