Contradicting its own prior reporting, The Washington Post asserted that when Bill Clinton "took office, he fired all U.S. attorneys at once," while George W. Bush "took a different approach, slowly releasing several of the prosecutors." But the Post previously reported that "Bush and ... Clinton each dismissed nearly all U.S. attorneys upon taking office." Indeed, Bush moved to replace almost all of Clinton's U.S. attorneys within the first five months of his term in office, according to a 2001 Justice Department press release.
OpenLeft's Paul Rosenberg takes a look at the evolving battle lines between old and new media using HuffPo's Sam Stein and his White House presser question as a jumping off point to discuss the unfounded assumption that old media reporting is somehow inherently superior:
It's routinely argued that old media--particularly newspapers--are superior, because they do "original reporting" while bloggers are merely parasitical on what newspapers reporters do. Of course, this is very often the case, just as most opinion columns are parasitical on newspaper reporters, too.
But it's not necessarily the case, and it's likely to be less and less the case as time goes by. With the vast online publication of information from primary sources, government, scientific and professional reports and the like, the value of traditional journalists largely revolves around their ability to see the same things that anyone online can see, and then to ask the right questions to penetrate beyond what was originally presented. And this is precisely where they routinely fail, not just falling short, but often amplifying the very lies and distortions they should be stripping away.
Rosenberg goes on to make his point by noting Media Matters' recent research item on the AP comparing President Obama's hiring of progressives at the DOJ to the Bush administration's alleged illegal hiring practices:
Indeed, the Bush politicization of the DOJ goes far beyond simply politicizing the process of hiring career staff using political criteria. The whole point of hiring conservative Republicans was not simply to give them cushy jobs they weren't qualified for (although some possible were qualified, but those didn't need their help). No, their purpose was to use the DOJ as a political weapon to attack, and attempt to destroy, the Democratic Party. This is how a whole range of improper and illegal practices all tied together. So MMFA is merely focusing on the most minimal aspects of what's required for accurate reporting here.
In it's critique of the AP story, MMFA relied entirely on the July 28, 2008 DOJ report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG), titled "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General." (PDF) In the natural course of standard journalistic practice, this is the sort of crucial document that a beat reporter would have read. That's precisely the sort of intimate understanding that reporters are supposed to bring to their jobs, which the rest of us are supposed to lack. MMFA did not "engage in reporting" according to the standard narrative. They were "just blogging."
And yet, MMFA managed to unearth and highlight the most fundamental distinction between political appointees and career attorneys (something every beat reporter ought to know like the back of their hand), and present it using compelling quotes from an unimpeachable authoritative source.
In short, although MMFA was "just blogging" while AP was doing "real reporting", it was MMFA that produced a sound journalistic product while AP did not.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Alberto Gonzales "was pilloried by Congress in a manner not usually directed toward cabinet officials," falsely suggesting that only members of Congress have publicly criticized Gonzales over his actions as attorney general. The Journal also quoted Gonzales asking, "What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?" The Journal did not note that a report by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General on the firings of nine U.S. attorneys concluded that Gonzales' congressional testimony on the subject was "not true" and recommended that a special counsel be appointed to investigate whether any crimes were committed with regard to testimony on the scandal.
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that in his first term, President George W. Bush "left a lot of Clinton U.S. attorneys in office, did not sweep them. Only in his second term did he start replacing some." In fact, Bush reportedly replaced 88 of the 93 U.S. attorneys with his own appointees during the first two years of his presidency.
Discussing Sen. Ted Stevens' conviction for lying on his Senate financial disclosure forms, Chris Matthews asked Rep. Heather Wilson, "Does it bother you personally that one of your colleagues looks like a crook?" However, after Wilson responded, in part, that "in my office and in my service, you know, I tell everyone that works with me, we stay on the white side of gray," Matthews did not ask Wilson about a Justice Department report that called for further investigation of actions Wilson and others allegedly took surrounding the firing of a former New Mexico U.S. Attorney. The report stated that the alleged conduct of Wilson and others in the case "may have been criminal."
On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer did not ask Rep. Heather Wilson about a recent Justice Department report that called for further investigation of actions she and others allegedly took surrounding the firing of former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. The report stated that their actions may have constituted an "attempt to pressure Iglesias to accelerate his charging decision" in a case and that if attempts to pressure Iglesias occurred, they could constitute obstruction of justice or wire fraud.
Evening news broadcasts on CBS and NBC failed to cover a new report finding that the actions of top aides in the Justice Department who used political considerations in hiring "violated federal law and Department policy, and also constituted misconduct." ABC's World News, meanwhile, devoted less than 30 seconds to the report. Despite the potential implications for U.S. counterterrorism efforts, all three networks ignored the finding that "an experienced career terrorism prosecutor" was denied a counterterrorism assignment while "a much more junior attorney who lacked any experience in counterterrorism issues and who officials believed was not qualified for the position" was hired instead.