The interesting question is, is President Obama just a passenger on the runaway Deep State train, thoughtlessly rattling through his hollow valedictories, or is he the conductor? or the engineer?
I was struck by this possibility while reflecting on David Ignatius' revelation on Thursday that intercepts showed that Trump's security adviser, Michael Flynn, had been on the phone with the Russian ambassador several times on the day President Obama announced the expulsion of the Russian diplos.
Hmmm. I thought. With all due respect, David Ignatius doesn't do reporting. He does top-drawer steno. He didn't dig this factoid out. It was fed to him. Specifically, the fact that Flynn's communications were being intercepted--normally, one would expect, the kind of tittle-tattle kept from the public eye under the rubric of "protecting sources and methods"--was being made part of the public discourse.
The next day, there was follow-up. Not just followup pundit regurgitation on the leak to Ignatius: followup confirmation by the Obama administration:
The Obama administration is aware of frequent contacts between President-elect Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, including on the day President Barack Obama hit Moscow with sanctions in retaliation for election-related hacking, a senior U.S. official said Friday.
Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador were first reported by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. The official who spoke to The Associated Press was not authorized to confirm the contacts publicly and insisted on anonymity.
So, the story, relying on covert surveillance, that Flynn is canoodling with the Russian ambo is being determinedly and repeatedly fed to the press.
Consider: for eight years the Obama administration has been resolute/overbearing/fanatical, choose your adjective, in plugging leaks. But now we get this concerted blabberai.
Is Obama just phoning it in while his aides run riot at the end of his administration.
Is Obama condoning and perhaps even directing the hit on Trump--Obama in the library with a candlestick--while making sure his fingerprints aren't on the weapon?
Time to re-up one of my favorite pieces, on the 1954 campaign against Joe McCarthy. It's a useful corrective for young journos craving their "Murrow moment"--when the press seemingly rises up in spontaneous democratic revulsion to mete justice out on a demagogue.
But it also provides an instructive primer on how the executive branch can use the deep state, dossiers, allies in Congress and--of course!--a cooperative press to do its dirty work.
Spoiler: taking down McCarthy was the result of a carefully planned campaign executed by bureaucrats, spooks, and pols at the order of President Eisenhower and bringing in the press at the last stage to administer the coup de grace.
I wrote this piece a year ago. But as you can see, it stands up pretty well today, in the last days of the Obama administration and, possibly, the last days of Donald Trump.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Yes, the Press Might Do a Joe McCarthy on Trump; Just Not the Way You Think
Adams, a fellow South Dakotan and long-time friend of Potter’s, knew Potter would make use of the anti-Cohn, anti-McCarthy chronology, Potter, in turn, knew that the chronology was potential dynamite and his unsyndicated story would get nowhere unless other news outlets had it too.
The way Potter told it to me later, he therefore offered a copy of the Adams chronology to Arkansas Democratic Sen. John L. McClellan, ranking minority member of McCarthy’s subcommittee. McClellan was an arch-conservative and at first didn’t oppose McCarthy, but he grew to despise the Wisconsin Republican’s tactics. And so, with Potter’s guidance, McClellan invited a small group of reporters to his Fairfax Hotel apartment in Washington and leaked the chronology to them. I was one of those invited. Others included reporters for AP, UP, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
There was only one copy of the chronology available at McClellan’s suite, so the four other reporters and I laboriously hand-copied each of the 34 single-spaced pages of the document, passing each page to the other reporter until all were finished copying. We didn’t finish until close to midnight. From the hotel, I phoned a “bulletin” and brief story to the INS news desk in Washington, to catch the wire at the end of what we called the “A.M. cycle” for morning papers.
At the time, and for years afterward, I thought Adams had prepared and leaked his chronology on his own, in retribution for his and his Army colleagues’ treatment by McCarthy and Cohn.
Thirty years later, the full story came out in Ewald’s deceptively titled “Who Killed Joe McCarthy” book. Ewald provided chapter and verse on how Adams was only one player in a broadly mounted but confidential assault on McCarthy and Cohn by the Eisenhower White House, Department of Defense, and Department of the Army. The President himself was described as publicly silent but vitally active in orchestrating the developments that spawned the Army- McCarthy hearings.