“President Obama met today with the family of Steven Sotloff — one of the American journalists brutally beheaded by ISIS last year,” ABC News reported Thursday. “The White House announced that Obama met with Art and Shirley Sotloff during his trip to Miami. The Sotloffs live in Florida, so the White House says it was ‘an appropriate occasion for the president to visit with them.'”
According to National Security spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, “The President expressed his and the First Lady’s condolences for Steven’s death. He appreciated the chance to hear from the Sotloffs more about Steven’s work as a journalist, including his passion for bringing the stories of people who are suffering to the rest of the world in the hope of making a positive difference, including in Syria.”
The report goes on to say the President discussed the family’s “2Lives: Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation,” which ABC describes as an effort to “provide support and assistance to journalists reporting from conflict torn areas of the world.”
Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl’s family gets ushered into the Rose Garden for photo sessions with the President and bizarre press conferences. Steven Sotloff’s family gets a little face time with Obama nine months after an enemy state committed a war-crimes atrocity against an American citizen, and they only got that because he happened to be in town for some global-warming bleating and a couple of Democrat fundraisers.
ABC very delicately notes that the White House was “stung by harsh criticism from relatives of American hostages killed by terrorists,” prompting it to begin “reviewing its hostage policy.” That’s an amazing omission of context for news consumers.
For the full story, we must turn to the UK Daily Mail, which recalls that the Sotloffs accused the Obama Administration of lying about its treatment of them, blowing them off when they asked for help after ISIS threatened to kill Steven Sotloff in one of its propaganda videos, and using the captive journalist as a “pawn” in a “larger game of bureaucratic infighting.”
The Sotloffs said the Administration “bullied and hectored” them out of trying to work out a ransom deal for Steven’s release. In fact, they said they were threatened with prosecution if they tried to pay a ransom. The family of another ISIS victim, James Foley, lodged similar complaints.
Team Obama’s deep respect for the law utterly evaporated when it came to securing Bergdahl’s release in exchange for five Taliban leaders — who are, for the benefit of those keeping score, about to complete their brief and comfortable house arrest in Qatar, perhaps returning to the battlefields of Afghanistan, where the Taliban appears to strenuously disagree with President Obama about whether the war is “over.”
The Sotloffs also claim, based on their own sources, that one of the “moderate” Syrian rebel groups the Administration used to court as allies against the Assad regime and/or the immoderate rebels, sold Steven out to ISIS for a cash bounty. The White House disputed this claim, although the dispute evidently boiled down to spokesman Josh Earnest mumbling, “Based on the information that has been provided to me, I don’t believe that is accurate.” Little subsequent effort seems to have been invested in determining whether moderate rebel betrayal played a role in the kidnapping or not.
Nine months is an eternity in mediaspace, especially when the friendly press corps is so eager to pronounce last rites over every story harmful to Obama and embalm it as “old news.” Perhaps the Sotloffs have lightened up on their criticism of the Administration, or they just want to put it all behind them. You would not know from any of the mainstream media’s reports on the Miami meeting — there’s no discussion of what the Sotloff family said during or after their talk with the President, or any indication that they expressly refused to comment on it.
One gets the impression every news organization simply ran the Administration’s upbeat statements, without bothering to ask the family for their thoughts. I have yet to see a single MSM online report even do the Sotloffs the courtesy of dropping in a link to their foundation (as I did above, and will do again here. The name “2Lives,” by the way, comes from a quote of Steven’s: “Everyone has two lives. The second one begins when you realize that you only have one.”) One would think the family, which seemed to acquire a degree of media savvy when they decided not to let Obama’s political shop and media cheerleaders write the story of Steven’s death, would want to take full advantage of this moment in the spotlight to gather support for their worthy cause.
They should also have known that by allowing the White House to dictate press coverage of their meeting with the President, they were tacitly agreeing to resume their assigned roles as bit players in Barack Obama: The Movie.