Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, after Obama’s January 10 farewell speech gushed: “He’s been scandal free, frankly, in the White House. We haven’t had that what for a while.” Time magazine’s Joe Klein, back in December declared there has been “absolutely no hint of scandal” during his eight years. And in 2013 reporters first took up this line when the GOP Congress began investigating the myriad of scandals from Obama’s first term. At that time ABC’s Jon Karl noted that this was “a White House that takes pride in being scandal-free.” NPR’s Steve Inskeep asserted “This administration has been described, I don’t even know how many times, as remarkably scandal-free,” and Time’s Rana Foroohar noted “the President has been very rightfully proud of the lack of scandal in his administration so far.”Maybe the definition of "scandal" employed by these folks differs from the one many of the rest of us have always used, or maybe their definition is that scandal is solely and uniquely a Republican phenomenon. Or maybe something is a scandal only if the major media chooses to cover it in which case nothing unseemly that occurred during President Obama's tenure would qualify as scandalous.
In any event, by any reasonable definition of "scandal" the Obama administration has had more than it's share. Newsbusters lists seven scandals, of which these three are perhaps most prominent:
Using the IRS to target political opponents:
After a partisan report in June 2013 absurdly suggested that progressive groups were just as likely to be scrutinized as conservative ones, ABC, CBS and NBC essentially abandoned their coverage of the IRS targeting scandal. After producing 136 stories on their morning and evening news show during the first seven weeks of the scandal, broadcast news coverage dried up, with just 14 more reports over the next 10 months, as the Big Three ignored numerous damning developments in the case.Illegally selling firearms to Mexican drug cartels:
The media’s blackout of the IRS scandal continued through 2016 despite more and more developments being unearthed. On June 15, 2016 it was reported the IRS had finally released an almost complete list of organizations that the tax agency scrutinized in the Tea Party targeting scandal, but the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks ignored this stunning development.
In 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) launched “Operation Fast and Furious,” which permitted thousands of guns to be illegally sold in the hope of tracking the weapons as they made their way up the ranks of Mexican drug cartels. In December 2010, one of those weapons was used to kill U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.Wait lists at Veterans Administration hospitals:
In a Republican administration, such incompetence and stonewalling would likely have been a major story. Yet ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News acted as if the scandal did not exist, never once mentioning it on their evening news programs in 2011. CBS Evening News ran a dozen full reports in 2011 exposing various elements of the scandal, thanks to then correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
NBC finally arrived on the story on June 12, 2012, 546 days after Brian Terry’s murder, and then only after the House of Representatives was about to approve a contempt charge against the Attorney General for failing to produce crucial documents. ABC’s World News took another eight days, until June 20, to acknowledge the scandal, dallying until President Obama himself stepped in to claim Executive Privilege on behalf of Holder. CBS, which in 2011 had distinguished itself as the lone broadcast network pursuing this story, also waited until the June 20 Evening News to file their first Fast and Furious story of 2012.
The House vote against Holder and the President’s use of Executive Privilege would ordinarily be the red flare that set the networks to digging deeper on a scandal, but not when it came to Obama’s Fast and Furious fiasco.
May 22, 2014 the MRC’s Scott Whitlock reported that in nearly four and a half weeks, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have offered 110 minutes to Obama administration scandal involving secret lists designed to keep veterans from receiving proper medical treatment. Back in January 2014, it took those same network shows just four and a half days to churn that much coverage for Chris Christie's Bridgegate.Surprisingly, one of the biggest scandals of the Obama years didn't even make the Dickens' Newsbusters article. The scandal that probably cost Hillary Clinton the election, her illegal use of an email server, her attempt to hide her crime, and the probability that foreign governments hacked into her server all occurred while she was Secretary of State under Obama. Moreover, her influence-peddling via her family charity foundation also occurred during her tenure as a prominent member of the Obama administration. Either of these would certainly count as scandals were a Republican in the White House, but some in our media are so desperate to protect what legacy Barack Obama might have that they completely ignore these blemishes on his administration.
When the VA story broke on April 23, 2014 with news as many as 40 veterans seeking treatment at one Phoenix facility died while on secret waiting lists, CBS provided the most coverage, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. NBC allowed 44 minutes and 53 seconds and ABC came in last with a scant 16 minutes and 44 seconds. None of the networks bothered covering the story until May 6, 2014 almost two weeks after it broke. (This is despite heavy investigative reporting by Fox News and CNN.) In just four and half days, from January 7, 2014 through the January 12 morning programs, ABC, CBS and NBC deluged Americans with 112 minutes and 23 seconds of analysis into what Christie knew about an intentional traffic jam created on the George Washington bridge last fall.
It's also a fact that most of the scandals of previous administrations did not cost lives, but both the Fast and Furious scandal and the VA scandal did cost lives, and it's possible that if Mrs. Clinton's emails were hacked that that may have cost lives as well.
None of this seems to have been considered by the aforementioned commentators who, to give them the benefit of the doubt, probably spoke before they thought very much about what they were saying.