Politico published a jaw-dropping, meticulously sourced investigative piece this week detailing how the Obama administration had secretly undermined US law enforcement agency efforts to shut down an international drug-trafficking ring run by the terror group Hezbollah. The effort was part of a wider push by the administration to placate Iran and ensure the signing of the nuclear deal.
Now swap out “Trump” for “Obama” and “Russia” for “Iran” and imagine the eruption these revelations would generate. Because, by any conceivable journalistic standard, this scandal should’ve triggered widespread coverage and been plastered on front pages across the country. By any historical standard, the scandal should elicit outrage regarding the corrosion of governing norms from pundits and editorial boards.
Yet, as it turns out, there’s an exceptionally good chance most of your neighbors and colleagues haven’t heard anything about it.
Days after the news broke, in fact, neither NBC News, ABC News nor CBS News — whose shows can boast a collective 20 million viewers — had been able to find the time to relay the story to its sizeable audiences. Other than Fox News, cable news largely ignored the revelations as well.
Most major newspapers, which have been sanctimoniously patting themselves on the back for the past year, couldn’t shoehorn into their pages a story about potential collusion between the former president and a terror-supporting state.
Perhaps if President Trump had tweeted about the story, outlets would’ve squeezed something in.
Even when outlets did decide to cover the story, they typically framed it as a he-said/she-said. “Politico Reporter Says Obama Administration ‘Derailed’ Hezbollah Investigation,” reads the NPR headline. Did Josh Meyer of Politico say something about Obama or did he publish a 14,000-word, diligently sourced, document-heavy investigative piece? If you get your news from NPR, you’d never know.
Fact is, the Drug Enforcement Agency began its classified investigation (called Project Cassandra) into Hezbollah in 2008. It found that the Iranian proxy had laundered nearly a half a billion dollars and was moving cocaine to the United States. According to Politico, the Obama administration not only threw obstructions in front of investigators but failed to prosecute major players in the enterprise.
What makes the media blackout particularly shameful is that the story isn’t a partisan hit job. It was written by a well-regarded journalist at a major outlet. The story has two on-the-record sources — which is more than we can say for the vast majority of so-called scoops about the Russian “collusion” investigation. One of these sources, David Asher, was an illicit finance expert at the Pentagon who was tapped to run the investigation. There’s no plausible reason to ignore him or the story.
Then again, ignoring or diminishing Obama’s shady dealings with Iran isn’t new. Obama administration officials bragged to the New York Times Magazine last year that they’d created an echo chamber, relying on the ignorance, inexperience and partisan dispositions of reporters to convey their lies to the American people.
We saw this when the Obama administration claimed it was releasing 14 Iranian civilians on humanitarian grounds, when in fact it was releasing spies and weapons dealers. Or when Team Obama claimed diplomacy had won US hostages’ release, when it fact it had sent hundreds of millions of euros, Swiss francs and other currencies on wooden pallets in unmarked planes to Iran. The press was uninterested in those stories, too.
Establishment media personalities will often point out that none of us would have any knowledge of these incidents if not for their reporting. This is true. There are intrepid journalists at media institutions who aren’t swayed by partisan considerations.
The preponderance of editors, journalists, pundits and bookers, on the other hand, still coddle Democrats. They may do it on purpose or unconsciously, but it’s destroying their credibility. Because as David Burge once noted, “Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.”