During Barack Obama’s Friday afternoon press conference, in response to a question about NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the president told NBC’s Chuck Todd the following: “As I said in my opening remarks, I called for a thorough review of surveillance operations before Mr. Snowden.”
What Obama said just a few minutes earlier was:
I called for a thorough review of our operations before Mr. Snowden made these leaks. My preference, and I think the American peoples’ preferences would have been for a lawful, orderly examination of these laws.
Will the media fact-check these statements?
Or, like Obama’s repeated boasts about “decimating” and having al Qaeda “on the run,” will the media get scooped yet again when it is revealed that this statement was not true?
The president gave himself plenty of wiggle-room in that statement, and a year from now, he could use that wiggle-room effectively after the context of his remarks is long forgotten. Which is why it would be nice if the media would fact-check this claim now, when the context is still fresh in our minds.
There is no question that the message the president was trying to put across is that any reforms to current NSA surveillance programs were already in process and would have happened anyway, even without Snowden’s leaks because, “I called for a thorough review.”
What the president just told the White House Press Corps and the American people is that “I meant to do that.”
But did he?
Did he really?
In 2008, as a candidate, this president told the American people that, unlike President Bush, he would respect the Constitution when it came to domestic surveillance. For five years now everyone has just assumed that this is how he had chose to govern and oversee domestic surveillance. (The media sure as hell didn’t follow up on this promise.)
Then, boom, through Mr. Snowden’s leaks we learn that Obama not only didn’t reform these programs as promised; instead, he put them on steroids.
But now we are being led to believe that this was all about to change — that Obama was just about to begin to review and reform the NSA before that pesky Snowden came along and ruined the surprise.
“No, no, no,” the president told Chuck Todd. “All of the reforms and changes would have happened anyway.”
Maybe that is true. I don’t know. But only under this president does one have to wonder if the mainstream media will even bother to fact-check his boasts.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC