GAFFNEY: When the press is a poodle

Romance blossoms in the president’s cozy lap

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This nation’s Founders had a special role in mind for the media in the constitutional arrangements they carefully constructed. It was to provide a fourth source of checks and balances on the potential abuse of power by the three branches of government, by virtue of journalists’ independence and, if assured freedom of the press, their ability to expose and, thereby, to counter overreaching presidents, legislators or courts.

The Framers of our Constitution didn’t reckon on the American media in the age of Obama, however. Three examples in recent days suggest that at least the “mainstream” press have become little more than flacks for the president and his agenda. Whether out of a sense of ideological affinity or thanks to successful official manipulation, such journalists have been reduced to the status of Mr. Obama’s poodles. Move over Bo and Sunny, you have company.

Let’s start with The New York Times — the country’s putative “paper of record” — that has shilled shamelessly for Barack Obama from the get-go. To cite but one example, last month it called his serial, fraudulent commitment that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, period” an “incorrect promise.” As one blogger memorably put it, “There are lies, damned lies and ‘incorrect promises.’”

Then on Dec. 28, the Gray Lady breathlessly claimed that extensive interviews on the ground in Benghazi “turned up no evidence that al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role” in the murderous attack on U.S. facilities there on Sept. 11, 2012. The Times insisted that, “The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against [longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi].”

Times’ reporter David Kirkpatrick concluded, moreover, that the murderous assault “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”

Unsurprisingly, this article was immediately touted by Team Obama as vindication of the administration’s initial party line — and damning to congressional Republicans and others who have disputed it.

The trouble is, it just ain’t so. Lawmakers of both parties, including notably members of the House Intelligence Committee, such as Chairman Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican; Adam Schiff, California Democrat; and Peter T. King, New York Republican, have publicly contested the Times’ findings. Testimony provided before their panel has confirmed that jihadists who share al Qaeda’s shariah-directed, supremacist goals and claim to be its affiliates conducted the attack in a planned and disciplined fashion — not as a spontaneous mob.

It is a travesty that, 12-plus years after Sept. 11, neither the Obama administration, nor the so-called “gold standard” for America’s Fourth Estate understand and correctly depicts the nature of the threat we face from Shariah and the full panoply of jihad — both violent and stealthy — required of its adherents.

One thing is clear, though: We need a Benghazigate select committee to get the truth out, once and for all.

A willingness to do the Obama administration’s bidding also seems at work behind reporting by The Associated Press about the declining condition of the land-based leg of America’s strategic Triad and the plummeting morale of the Air Force personnel responsible for it.

On Dec. 21, the AP distributed an article titled “U.S. Nuclear Missiles are a Force in Much Distress.” It chronicles the fact that the Minuteman III intercontinental-range ballistic missiles have been in the inventory since 1970 — but fails to mention that they have recently completed a comprehensive service-life extension program. The article also discusses the fact that “young officers sense the mission is in decline.”

The real point of the report seems to have been promoting the Obama administration’s line that, “The U.S. sees less use for nuclear weapons and aims to one day eliminate them, possibly starting with the missiles. The trend is clear, advanced by President Barack Obama’s declared vision of a nuclear weapons-free world.”

The problem, of course, is that no other nuclear-weapon state or wannabe is pursuing Mr. Obama’s “vision” — not one. The fact that this reality was not mentioned — combined with the emphasis placed on the age of the missiles, the worrisome readiness shortfalls among their crews and the need for costly modernization of these and other elements of the U.S. deterrent — smacks of the spin of administration denuclearizers, not objective reporting. The answer to such real problems in the real world is energetic corrective action, not unilateral disarmament.

Finally, as Matt Continetti of The Washington Free Beacon recently observed, the press “pool reporter” selected to cover Vice President Joe Biden’s recent meetings with Chinese leaders was not even a journalist. He was Steve Clemons, a Democratic foreign-policy activist. And it showed in the slanted reporting he provided to the “working press” along for the trip and, through them, to the rest of us.

At a time when Mr. Obama is increasingly engaged in extraconstitutional and unconstitutional behavior, a free press performing the function envisioned for it by the Framers is more necessary than ever. In its absence, there’s every reason to think that not only will the mainstream media be poodled, but the country will go to the dogs.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. was an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan. He is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio.

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