It is gratifying to watch the media suddenly discover such concepts as the independence of the judiciary, conflicts of interest, and press freedom. For the eight years of President Barack Obama’s tenure, the media treated conservatives who raised those concerns as racists, or cranks, or both.
Now — as predicted — checks-and-balances are suddenly en vogue. The media pounce on every Tweet — every joke — as an sign of the imminent, lawless tyranny that President Donald Trump will foist upon us all.
Not so fast. And not without an apology first — from all of you, from every single journalist who covered up Obama’s abuses, from every so-called “good government” champion who looked the other way, from every pundit that pooh-poohed the IRS scandal or excused Hillary’s email server or said nothing when “stimulus” cash went to Obama’s cronies and political allies.
I’m talking about people like Norm Eisen, who left Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to become Obama’s ethics czar. There, he opened White House visitor logs to the public — a new policy that Obama relied upon, for years, to claim that his was the most transparent administration in history.
Except, as Andrew Breitbart pointed out, once you found someone’s name on the visitor logs, the White House would not tell you whether they were actually that person, or someone else. Meanwhile, Obama staffers simply took to meeting lobbyists and other dubious characters across the street.
Eisen has suddenly surfaced as a talking head on television, blasting the Trump administration’s supposed conflicts of interest. He was in high dudgeon on Thursday morning over Kellyanne Conway’s joke on Fox & Friends — “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff” — which was a response to controversy over whether Nordstrom pulled Ivanka Trump’s products for political or business reasons. Yet Eisen and his ilk were silent in 2012 when President Obama touted J.P. Morgan bank, where his own money sat.
My Breitbart News colleague Peter Schweizer is concerned that President Trump and his staff may have crossed a line in their defense of Ivanka Trump. He is entitled to make that criticism, because he spent the past several years documenting conflicts of interest by members of both parties.
In 2011, when Schweizer revealed that 80% of the loans made by President Obama’s Department of Energy went to campaign donors, most of the people complaining today about a Tweet were saying nothing.
Eisen told MSNBC on Thursday that President Trump’s defense of Ivanka was the “behavior of a corrupt mafia family.” He added that Trump’s criticism of the courts was unprecedented: “We haven’t seen this in a White House,” he said.
Perhaps Eisen was too busy enjoying Prague to notice in 2012 when Obama warned the Supreme Court not to overturn Obamacare. Or maybe he slept through the State of the Union in 2010, when Obama rebuked the Supreme Court for Citizens United.
On that occasion, the media had a lot to say — not about Obama’s appalling insult to judicial independence, but about Justice Samuel Alito, who shook his head and mouthed the words “not true” as Obama distorted the opinion of the Court.
So supine was the press under Obama that they barely bothered to defend themselves, even when the administration spied on them and lied about trying to prosecute them. When they finally complained, it was about access to Obama’s golf games on vacation.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. And it is no better for a Republican president than a Democratic one to mock the judiciary, to attack the media, or to make public statements for private benefit.
But some of us — myself included — were critical of both Obama and Trump in those areas, long before the mainstream media suddenly discovered their principles. Most have failed to own up to their past negligence — or complicity.
They owe America an apology before their criticisms can be taken seriously.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.