When an American compound in Benghazi was attacked last year, the Obama administration targeted a filmmaker named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, accusing him of setting the Muslim world ablaze and then throwing him in prison. The government also pressured YouTube to remove his allegedly offensive video. After it became evident that Benghazi was a coordinated terrorist attack that had little to do with Nakoula, family members of those killed started asking for answers. Journalists reacted with a smattering of press coverage, followed by weary demands that we all move on.
But when we learned this week that the Department of Justice secretly collected two months of phone records from the Associated Press, suddenly bats flew out of hell, shrieking could be heard from distant castle towers, and Richard Nixon’s ghost was seen clanking about the White House. With one of their own under attack, the press, which was more than happy to ignore the parents of dead Navy SEALs, demanded that the Obama administration be held accountable.
“Journalism,” observed Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, “is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for f**koffs and misfits—a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector.” I’ve always disagreed to an extent; there are plenty of decent members of my profession, even if they’re merely exceptions to Thompson’s rule. But this week the overweening narcissism of the Fourth Estate was on full display, hoisted from the flagpole and flapping in the wind.
The press is comparing the DOJ’s actions to Watergate. That’s all well and good, but why couldn’t any of them have sent a little affront in the direction of Nakoula, who now sits in a prison cell ostensibly for a parole violation, but eminently for making a video Muslims found offensive? And if collecting phone data is Nixonian, what about when the Obama administration chucked Delphi workers off their pensions because they weren’t unionized? Or tried to obfuscate its role in the Fast and Furious operation that left a Border Patrol agent and countless Mexicans dead? Or engaged in the unprecedented persecution of leakers for years before the AP scandal broke?
Those stories were either mostly ignored or snidely dismissed as fodder for right-wing witch hunts. Only when their fellow scribblers came under attack did journalists suddenly sit bolt upright in bed. “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel,” is a timeworn Mark Twain quote, but apparently it’s also the only rule this administration was ever expected to follow.
The AP matter is bad, and made worse by Eric Holder’s apparent decision to recuse himself from the matter and go paperless on the same day. But the real scandals here are Benghazi and the IRS’s treatment of conservative nonprofits. The latter seems to sprout a new polyp every hour. We now know that the IRS not only targeted Tea Party charities, but also conservative, constitutional, Jewish, and pro-life groups. For more than two years, the agency refused to approve any Tea Party tax-exempt applications whatsoever. Certain applications were inappropriately leaked to the left-wing news outlet ProPublica. IRS employees even tried to blackmail one pro-life group into signing a pledge not to picket outside Planned Parenthood.
On President Obama’s watch, the IRS was weaponized and used to block the growth of conservative intellectual infrastructure. This wasn’t about a couple overcaffeinated agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office trying to adapt to an onslaught of nonprofit applications. It was a blatant attempt to stymie the spread of ideas; a very potent and unique abuse of power.
Mr. Purple isn't quite done. What he's written is damning in every sense of the word and should be read by you, by your friends, by your loved ones and by their friends and loved ones.
This isn't really about the right against the left.
It's about the right against the wrong.