Bookmarked at for 2007-03-23
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Washington Post Edition) 'Post' Finds Nothing 'Nefarious' in Attorney Firings -- AP Suggests Otherwise

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Michael Kinsley Edition)

Yet more journamalism this morning...

On March 13, 2007, I read this email from DOJ's Kyle Sampson to the White House's Monica Griffin of December 19, 2006

I think we should gum this [Arkansas U.S. Attorney situation] to death: ask the Senators to give Tim [Griffin] a chance [as US Attorney for Arkansas], [ask the Senators to] meet with him, [to] give him some time in office to see how he performs, etc. If they ultimately say, "no never" (and the longer we can forestall that, the better), then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All this should be done in "good faith," of course.... [O]ur guy is in there so the status quo is good for us.... [P]ledge to desire a Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney; and otherwise hunker down....

The only thing really at risk here is a repeal of the AG's appointment authority. We [need]... to work hard to preserve this... all we really need is for one Senator to object to object to language being added to legislative vehicles.... There is some risk that we'll lose the authority, but if we don't ever exercise it then what"s the point of having it? (I'm not 100% sure that Tim [Griffin] was the guy on which to test drive this authority, but know that getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.)

On March 19, 2007, Michael Kinsley wrote:

Swampland - TIME: Now to the Patriot Act business. I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. I’m dubious about that [whether the Bush administration has done anything wrong], too. For late arrivals: the administration snuck a provision into the odious Patriot Act that allows the Attorney General to fill US Attorney positions without Senate approval.... Help me out here, AnaMarie. I am confused about the administration’s use of this provision. Has it ever put a US Attorney in place and not submitted the name to the Senate for confirmation? There is one guy who is explicitly temporary, but they insist that they intend to get Senate approval for every US Attorney they put in place. Is that right? And have they kept their word on this, at least so far?

Comment seems superfluous.

Also worth noting are Kinsley's declaration that it is illegitimate and inappropriate for the Democratic congressmen and women to use their tools to try to find out what the Bushies have done and are doing:

Politics, Lies, and 93 v. 8 - Swampland - TIME: I stand by my description of the administration as “comically mendacious”—-anyone who hasn’t been entertained by the tango of mid-course corrections is missing a real treat. But it’s also serious. I do tend to think that the solution is in electoral politics—-punish liars by voting against them--and not in subpoenas and hearings and special prosecutors and impeachment talk and all the other paraphernalia of scandal...

And Kinsley's declaration that it is illegitimate for anyone to to jump from the fact that the Bushies are lying to the conclusion that the Bushies have done something of which they are ashamed which they don't want known:

Swampland - TIME: We’re all in agreement—-you, me, the Washington Post, even the Wall Street Journal—-that the administration’s response to this controversy has been comically mendacious. Volleys of lies come in wave after wave, like the trench soldiers of World War One. They get mowed down and the administration just sends in more. This is the best evidence that there is something simply and truly wrong going on. It’s not great evidence. The characteristic mendacity of the Bush administration is the pointless lie, uttered because telling the truth would be ever-so-slightly more trouble. (Like drinking a Bud within arm’s length because better beer is in the fridge ten steps away)...

Let me restrict myself to one comment on these last two. Kinsley's game appears quite clear: Place the burden of proof on the Democrats, and then say that until they have met that burden of proof any investigation to establish what really happened is illegitimate.

Maybe it's just that we have different standards out here in academia, and in weblogsville. My presumptions are that anybody worth reading will have briefed him or herself up on the issues before opining, and that anybody worth reading will be trying to understand reality rather than playing silly legal-counsel games with respect to shifting the burden of proof.

And I am still shocked each time I find out that my presumptions are false when applied to modern American journalism.