The U.S. House Oversight Committee (HOC), led by Rep. Elijah Cummings, has been moving in overdrive since the Democrats rose to power. They have already called President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen in to testify in a bid to find more charges to level at the White house; they are fighting against a perjury inquiry against Cohen so he can hang around until they need him again for another fishing expedition; and there's been a grandstanding subpoena for someone who already agreed to show for a hearing.
But, wait. There's a NEXT brash move:
Cummings, D-Md., is apparently launching an investigation into the editorial practices of FOX News. He's sent a letter to a former FOX reporter, requesting documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit she brought against her former employer. What's possibly more alarming, however, is that the usual suspects who provide the dire dramatics attached to such moves -- the mouthpieces from national news networks -- have been mostly silent about the overreach.
The HOC's move represents the very thing that many in the press have been caterwauling about with President Trump, and that's a governmental threat to their industry. It's a stark non-reaction on the former FOXer, however, even though they claim Trump is attacking them and their freedom to perform their duties. Apparently when it's Democratic House members doing the attacking, that's different. Possibly because it is the reviled FOX News on the receiving end, with Donald Trump ultimately in the crosshairs.
The nation’s media have taken a PR drubbing over recent years, and that was before the revelation of a 22-month Robert Mueller investigation managed to find no collusion of any kind. A story the press had trumpeted for years, and routinely got wrong. It's created a crisis within newsrooms as they have been exposed as pushing a narrative rather than exploring the facts behind the investigation.
What has led the news outlets to this sector of the wilderness is a belief that they, as the nation’s fact-checkers, are somehow above being fact-checked themselves. They have long believed they are the lone arbiters of what qualifies as news, so they have turned a deaf ear towards other voices countering their crafted storylines. They have resented being exposed, and seem unaware how to react, once caught. Now another example of the press operating with bifurcated standards has been revealed.
The reason the HOC is even entertaining this query stems from the announced decision last month that the Democratic Party was denying FOX News' requests to host any of its presidential debates. To justify the decision, the DNC leadership cited a news item that claimed FOX had buried a story about the Stormy Daniels affair with President Trump before the 2016 election. This claim arrived from a highly questionable source, an article in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer. Mayer is an unveiled liberal partisan who recently defended her work as, “It’s not resistance, it’s reporting”. Citing Mayer as a source should have had anyone putting the brakes on accusations.
Mayer’s recent dubious achievement was in attempting to derail the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation by coming up with 11th hour “witnesses” and alleged proof the FBI was ignoring other testimonies. That her report, made with Ronan Farrow, was littered with unverifiable claims and testimonials that had zero to do with Kavanaugh, was so poorly supplied that in any other industry she would have been sent packing. But in contemporary liberal-journalist circles, she was praised.
Immediately after Mayer’s FOX News piece hit the primary figure in her article, former FOX News head editor Ken Lacorte came forward not only to defy her report, he exposed her methods. Lacorte detailed what was behind the decision on the Daniels feature in a piece at Mediaite. He laid out the reasons why the story failed to live up to proper reporting standards, and how numerous other outlets had been brought the same story, only to elect not to run their pieces.
This explanation did not deter the HOC -- Elijah Cummings in particular. Seeing the party leadership make the move against FOX, and reference the Stormy Daniels story, he (to use a common phrase in the press) pounced. Cummings is acting with a supposed eye towards looking at some form of election subterfuge. That this is not rooted in a particular investigation has no impact on him. He hopes to find something out either to look into regulating FOX, or to ferret out some detail to justify further investigations into the president. In other words, a fishing expedition.
Despite this detailed explanation from Lacorte, many in the press supported the DNC decision. Brian Stelter -- the supposed arbiter of journalistic standards at CNN -- declared that FOX News actually brought on the decision, based on its journalistic errors as he saw them. That CNN had numerous examples of its own integrity lapses was not an issue, apparently. This is where Stelter, and his press brethren, expose their biases.
For years now he and many others at CNN, as well as players at multiple other outlets, have been loudly decrying President Trump, stating FOX is a purveyor of “fake news,” and other aggressive stances. There has been no shortage of dramatics, stating reporters are either physically endangered, or at the least that journalistic integrity is possibly stifled and the very notion that the First Amendment is being threatened.
It is all gripping and dramatic, except at no point has the administration shut down any news outlet, to say nothing of threats of arrest. Now, however, when we see that another branch of the government is targeting a news outlet, there is a distinct lack of outcry. Brian Stelter is not standing on his chair on Reliable Sources, railing against the government overstepping its boundary. He is certainly not crying out about the infringement on press freedom. There is no noble speeches about the press needing to be unhindered in keeping the government in check.
No parity whatsoever.
No, Stelter and the other muted journalists see the legal persecution of a FOX News journalist -- even a former one -- as an acceptable reaction against a competing news outlet it resents, possibly leading to an investigation into a president they despise. It is all justifiable and acceptable. That they see no future risk to their perch by remaining silent on the matter of a government entity exacting pressure on a news source shows just how shortsighted they have been in their blind opposition to this administration.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as Red State and The Federalist.