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In a key bit of synchronicity, two events took place in close succession that show that the Biden plan to run for 2024 is on the ropes. The first was that the White House counsel’s office sent letters to major press outlets
pressuring effectively directing them to treat the impeachment inquiry as a lie. Mind you, this media meddling comes after the Biden Administration lost its fight against a preliminary injunction, both at the trail court and appeals court level, against its campaign to influence social media platforms not to publish what it deemed to be “misinformation”. If you read Matt Taibbi’s Twitter files revelations, that campaign was light touch compared to this letter.
But the fact that it was Democratic Party fixture CNN that was first to public about the Biden Administration narrative control campaign was a sign that a weakened and desperate Administration had overplayed its hand. We’ll return to the letter later in the post because there are other ways in which it was extremely irregular.
But the big bombshell is the David Ignatius oped in the Washington Post telling Biden not to run again and even going so far as to tell Harris to step aside too. Tellingly, the article was not paywalled:
The significance is not that Ignatiius sticks the shiv in as nicely as possible, spending paragraphs signaling his regret at having to recommend against Biden 2024 despite Ignatius’ view that Biden “has been a successful and effective president.” It’s due to Igantius’ status as whisperer in chief for the surveillance-intelligence industrial complex. Remember, for instance, that Anthony Blinken gave an interview to Ignatius in January in which Blinken effectively committed the US to an open-ended war in Ukraine.
This Fox segment (yes, I know Fox) which ran there as Jesse Watters: Biden has done his job according to the Democrats, does a good job of describing the CIA’s relationship to the US press and Ignatius in particular:
And if you think Waters is peddling fevered right wing swamp ideas, think again:
Ignatius is long known as Langley’s mouthpiece so this is more like an official declaration than mere opinion https://t.co/MUNvBsjyZL
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) September 13, 2023
The fact that Ignatius then delivered the same message on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, as to the most loyal of Democratic Party loyalists, means there’s no mistaking that the it’s now open season on Joe Biden.
"Is Biden the person who can stop Trump, or somebody like Trump, who gets the Republican nomination? He's got a look in the mirror and make that decision."
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) September 13, 2023
I do see a fair number of tweets pushing back against Ignatius…not getting much in the way of retweets. Single digits to at most triple digits. Underwhelming.
As we indicated at the top, the Biden Administration sent a letter to major press organizations that had a cornered look about it. The fact that CNN decided to turn its receipt of the letter into a reported story was a signal that the press is not about to be pushed around this way, even though the text of the article feigns an intent to comply. From White House sends letter to news execs urging outlets to ‘ramp up’ scrutiny of GOP’s Biden impeachment inquiry ‘based on lies’:
The White House sent a letter to top US news executives on Wednesday, urging them to intensify their scrutiny of House Republicans after Speaker Kevin McCarthy launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, despite having found no evidence of a crime.
“It’s time for the media to ramp up its scrutiny of House Republicans for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies,” Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office, wrote in the letter, which was first obtained by CNN.
The letter, which said an impeachment inquiry with no supporting evidence should “set off alarm bells for news organizations,” was sent to executives helming the nation’s largest news organizations, including CNN, The New York Times, Fox News, the Associated Press, CBS News, and others, a White House official familiar with the matter said….
One can take issue with the “no evidence of a crime” which apparently hinges on the supposed lack of a connection between Hunter Biden enrichment and Biden pere use of influence. Among other things, we have the IRS whistleblowers plus fired Ukraine prosector who had Burisma in his corruption investigation crosshairs, Viktor Shokin, who in recent interviews fingered Biden. The White House is trying to depict this as a dead letter, but the absence of (past) evidence is not evidence of absence. Remember that one of the reasons for elevating the visibility of the Congressional investigation by turning it into an impeachment inquiry is that the Administration has refused to comply with many information requests.
Nevertheless, CNN puts the first of the next two paragraphs in its own voice:
While news organizations have published innumerable fact checks on the matter, they have also often failed to robustly call out the mis- and disinformation peddled by Republicans in their coverage, frustrating officials in the Biden White House who believe that the news media should be doing more to dispel lies that saturate the public discourse.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks during a media availability to announce support for an impeachment
In its letter Wednesday, the White House asked news organizations to be more clear-eyed in their coverage of the impeachment inquiry, and not to fall prey to the traps of false equivalency in reporting.
After many uncritically repeating Biden Administration howlers, from declaring that the vaccines would prevent you from getting and transmitting Covid to the continuing pretense that Ukraine can prevail against Russia, one can hardly depict the mainstream media as having been hard on the White House, or even unfair by omission.
One might also surmise that this letter went out to major press organs because the preliminary injunction over the Administration muscling social media outlets over alleged “misinformation” means it can’t try to influence their fact checking right now.
Jonathan Turley called out the White House letter, and in particular, the role of the adviser to the White House counsel,1 who sent the letter, in Marching Orders: White House Letter Tells Media To “Ramp Up Their Scrutiny” In Response to Impeachment Inquiry:
I have previously written how the level of advocacy and bias has created a danger of a de facto state media in the United States. It is possible to have such a system by consent rather than coercion. Given that long concern, a letter drafted by the Biden White House Legal Counsel’s Office was striking in a call for major media to “ramp up their scrutiny” of House Republicans “for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies.”…
First, as I have previously noted, the White House is now actively involved in pushing narratives and denying factual allegations linked to the Biden corruption scandal. That could create Nixonian-type allegations of the abuse of office in the use of federal employees to counter impeachment efforts.
Second, the letter was drafted by Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office. So White House lawyers are now enlisting the media in a counter media campaign against impeachment?…
Third, the letter calls for the media to actively support the White House account.
Turley quotes the White House letter as demonizing the opposition press as purveyors of falsehoods,2 and points out the obvious:
The letter has an uncomfortable feeling of marching orders to the media. This is a media that followed the lead of Biden associates in spreading the false story that the Hunter laptop was Russian disinformation.
This is the media that refused to acknowledge the authenticity of the laptop until only recently — long after the presidential election.
Turley also stresses at the close (with details earlier in his piece):
The letter is an alarming erosion of separation of the White House Counsel’s office from the Biden defense team. It also confirms an active and aggressive role of White House officials in swatting down allegations against the President. While the staff obviously is not expected to be neutral on impeachment, there is a careful line that past White House counsels have walked between fulfilling their duties to the office as opposed to the officeholder.
The high-handed tone of the White House letter to the press shows the Biden Administration is dug in. Expect even more belligerence.
1 One does wonder why the letter did not come from Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, even if prepared by the Counsel’s office. Was the intent that having it come from a lawyer was to signal even more seriousness?
2 I had missed a recent Turley column, in which he described long form how Washington Post columnist Philip Bump first flipped out and then walked out on a podcast when challenged over “his proven false claims on subjects ranging from Lafayette Park to Russian collusion.”