From the news room to the border: Sharyl Attkisson, Jeh Johnson and politics over policy

March 12, 2014

Story 1:

On Monday, veteran CBSNews investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson reminded us once again of the sorry state of broadcast journalism with a single tweet: “I have resigned CBS”.

From reporting on the Firestone Tire scandal, to GOP fund raising to her most recent work on the botched ATF Fast and Furious operation that left Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican civilians dead and whose lost guns are still killing people, Attkisson accumulated one award after another during her 20 plus years at CBSNews. From Edward R. Murrow to Emmy, she’s got em and she earned em.

CBSNews defenders and Ms. Attkisson’s distractors cite a perceived lack of “objectivity” of late as cause for her departure, but being cursed with the common sense gene, I’m of the inclination that it had more to do with the fact that her boss, David Rhodes, is the brother of current deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes.

The same Ben Rhodes that in the aftermath of the Benghazi terrorist attack that left 4 Americans dead penned in a memo: “We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.” A “work through” that resulted in the now infamous “blame it on the video” narrative.

Attkisson’s veracity and tenacity in reporting didn’t change but the controllers of power in Washington did. And as her reporting became more embarrassing to an administration mired in one scandal after another, Attkisson found herself appearing less and less in front of the CBS cameras.

Data from television news analyst Andrew Tyndall reveals that she dropped from being a consistent top 20 of network reporter by story air time pre-Obama to a lowly 78 in 2013. Leading Tyndall to tell Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: “She was definitely being sidelined.”

Story 2:

On November 21, 2013 Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, convinced that President Obama should have his nominees just rubber stamped by the Senate, invoked the “nuclear option” and removed the minority party’s ability to force a 60 vote threshold on Presidential appointments.

Three weeks later Reid used his new power to push through Jeh Johnson as the Director of Homeland Security. Some Senators had serious concerns over Johnson’s views on immigration and border control. Views that Johnson has now revealed were fully warranted.

Story 3:

One of Johnson’s first acts was to bow to illegal immigration advocates and order a review of U.S. Border Patrol agents use of force.

The resulting revised guidelines were released Friday and in essence, tell our agents that they are no longer in charge of their own lives. That henceforth Washington bureaucrats and immigration activists will decide their fates.

Agents are no longer to discharge their weapons at fleeing vehicles nor are they allowed to fire upon illegals should they choose to start pelting agents with rocks.

In a statement regarding the new restrictions Johnson said that they:

“lessen the likelihood of deadly force situations as we meet our dual goals of ensuring the safety and security of our dedicated agents as well as the public that they serve.”

Call me old fashioned but I consider the “public” to be served as the American taxpayer, not Mexican drug cartels and illegal immigrants.

Border Patrol agents’ union vice president Shaw P. Moran, quoted in the Los Angeles Times summed it up with: “seems to be a response to political pressure from special interests,” .

Very “special” interests indeed Mr. Moran.

Three stories, three people, one, overriding theme: It’s not the policy, it’s the politics.

And if you don’t agree? Well, perhaps it’s time to resign.

Publisher’s Note:  A version of this column first appeared in the March 12, 2014 print edition of the Joplin Globe.


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