05.14.2013 0

Woodward’s Revenge? Did Bob Woodward Get the IRS Story Rolling?

By Robert Romano

Perhaps it was Bob Woodward that did it. Got the ball rolling, that is.

If you have been paying attention to the news the past few months, you might have noticed a dramatic shift in reporting on the Obama Administration. Perhaps it is merely a coincidence, but there have been a rash a major news stories lately highly critical of the Obama Administration.

You will recall, it was Woodward revealed writing in his Sept. 2012 book, “The Price of Politcs,” that in addition to signing it into law, it was the Obama Administration that actually had come up with idea to do sequestration budget cuts, derailing a critical administration narrative against Republicans as the spending reductions were about to go into effect.

Later, Woodward revealed he was threatened by the White House for pushing the story in an interview with Politico.

Then, a Feb. 4 NBC News report by Michael Isikoff revealed a Department of Justice memo justifying the use of deadly military force against U.S. citizens. Eventually, that story prompted Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to mount his now unforgettable filibuster against the nomination of Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan.

More recently, the work of ABC News’ Jonathan Karl has helped Benghazi to become a national scandal, revealing a dozen major revisions made to White House talking points on the terrorist attack that removed mention of an al Qaeda link to the attack. This directly contradicted a White House narrative that only minor, stylistic changes had been made to the documents that were originally prepared by the intelligence community.

And although it was merely reporting on an American Bar Association public event, the Associated Press’s (AP) coverage of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) admission it targeted tea party groups for audits assisted in that story going viral.

Then the Washington Post revealed that it was not a local office of the agency that had targeted almost 300 non-profit groups, but the “division specifically tasked with evaluating applications for such nonprofit groups.” This contradicted the agency’s original narrative

Just on May 13, the AP fired another shot, this time at the Obama Justice Department, for seizing massive amounts of phone records from AP reporters, investigating a supposed leak of information that resulted in a story about a foiled Yemen terrorist plot.

“Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual and largely unprecedented,” the AP’s Mark Sherman writes.

Then, you have former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw criticizing the conglomeration of news media, politics, and Hollywood seen on display at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, which he again boycotted in 2013.

He told Politico that “This is not a crusade on my part. I’ve had my say. This is what I believe,” adding, “What I would do is take a hard look at it and find ways to temper the more outrageous qualities of it. Why do we think to have a successful evening, you have to have Donald Trump as your guest of honor, for example, or Lindsay Lohan?”

Then, just two weeks later, Brokaw took to the airwaves on May 13 to rip the Obama Administration for failing to respond to the IRS scandal, saying, “There’s only one spin for the president to make, which is to come out and say, ‘This is outrageous, it’s unacceptable in my administration. I have asked the people who are responsible for this to be removed from their jobs and we’re gonna have a complete investigation and then throw a house cleaning if necessary of the IRS.'”

He added, “This is not a political issue or a conservative or a liberal issue. It really is about trusting your government especially when it comes to one of the most sensitive parts.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd added to the chorus, saying there was a lack of “outrage” on the part of Democrats about the scandal.

Within hours, Democrat senators were crawling out of the woodwork to denounce the IRS scandal.

Obama in an unusual move took to the podium in a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron to denounce the IRS in rather unequivocal terms, “If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that had been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous and there’s no place for it.  And they have to be held fully accountable, because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity, and people have to have confidence that they’re applying it in a non-partisan way — applying the laws in a non-partisan way.”

That was quick. Could it be that Obama’s urgency in this instance has to do with the rash of major news stories coming out against his administration?

This should be a wakeup call for the rest of the mainstream media to do its job and hold White Houses accountable — no matter what political party they are from.

Shanto Iyengar and Donald R. Kinder’s “News that Matters” warned readers in 1988 of the effects of news media’s agenda-setting and priming effects, writing, “By calling attention to some matters while ignoring others, television news influences the standards by which governments, presidents, policies, and candidates for public office are judged.”

Everyone would likely agree that a Republican administration has to confront an adversarial press corps from day one. Can the same be said of Obama’s first term? Did the media help him get reelected?

Yes or no, it is clear now that the honeymoon is finally over. As Brokaw quipped, “Welcome to the second term, Mr. President.”

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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