In a recent speech at MIT — meant to be off-the-record — Barack Obama declared, “One of the things I’m proud of in my administration was the fact that … we didn’t have a scandal that embarrassed us. There were mistakes, we’d screw up. But there wasn’t anything venal in eight years.”
There is nothing surprising about a former president peddling rose-colored memories of his administration. What is downright startling is how many members of the press concur with Mr. Obama’s benevolent self-assessment. A video compiled by the conservative media watchdog Media Research Center shows journalists from such major outlets as ABC-TV, CNN and The New York Times confidently declaring the Obama administration “scandal-free.”
Yet in the year-plus since Mr. Obama has left office, while the same media has been feverishly hunting for a Trump-administration scandal that might be deemed “Russiagate,” what has instead been steadily coming to light is Obamagate: the scandal of an administration that ran the federal government like a corrupt Democratic city machine, transforming our instruments of governance into partisan political weapons.
A memo from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee charges that Obama’s FBI and Justice Department used unsubstantiated Russian gossip gathered by an agent of Hillary Clinton and the DNC to secure a FISA warrant to spy on an American citizen tied to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The Democrat memo intended to refute that charge actually supports it.
That Obama’s Justice Department was not viewed as a wholly trustworthy arm of the law even within the FBI was confirmed by former FBI Director James Comey last June. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had taken the extraordinary step of announcing the damning results of his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server because he felt he had to protect the investigation’s “credibility” after Attorney General Loretta Lynch met secretly with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac.
This depiction of a politicized Justice Department adds another large jigsaw piece to a puzzle-picture that already included the State Department and the IRS.
State, in the person of Mrs. Clinton, along with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, purposely obscured the cause of the 2012 terrorist massacre in Benghazi — presumably to keep the atrocity from undermining the president’s re-election claim that he had the terrorists on the run.
And, of course, the IRS has now repeatedly admitted to the unfair treatment of conservative groups — an action which had the effect of muting the voice of the Tea Party during Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign.
In each of these cases, the president himself was less than forthcoming with the public. He claimed, for instance, that he only learned about Mrs. Clinton’s secret email server from press reports when he had actually used the server under a pseudonym. He declared there wasn’t a “smidgeon” of corruption at the IRS when the man in charge there, Douglas Schulman, knew it had happened, and visited the White House during the relevant period over 150 times. And Mr. Obama himself obscured the causes of Benghazi.
If any individual or agency in the administration of the supposedly authoritarian Donald Trump had committed even a semblance of these acts of malfeasance, The New York Times would be covering the story with the sort of full front page headlines usually reserved for the declaration of war. And yet not only has Obamagate gone largely un- or under-reported outside of Fox News and other right-leaning outlets, mainstream reporters have actively sought to suppress, spin and minimize such instruments as the Republican Intelligence memo that promised to bring information on the scandal to light.
Which points to perhaps the most important institution the Obama administration corrupted: the American press. Possibly enchanted by the advent of the first black president, or possibly simply in the tank for a left-leaning executive, the media under Obama graduated from exaggerating dubious scandals about Republicans to first underplaying and now hiding the corruption of their “scandal-free” idol.
It’s old political wisdom that the cover-up is often worse than the crime. Obamagate gave us eight years of a politicized federal government. The media cover-up of Obamagate now threatens the free and honest flow of information.