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I’ve watched footage of the White House press corps engaging with press secretary Robert Gibbs on the Obama about-face on a torture investigation several times now. Sam Stein has a good recounting of it at the Huffington Post:
The mood was set even before White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs came to the podium to talk about the president’s remarks. “There does seem to be a little bit of a reaction to how this was received on the left,” said Chuck Todd, White House correspondent for NBC. “Frankly this feels like a political food fight now. Vice President Cheney on one side, President Obama on the other. The hard left, the hard right, fighting over this in the blogosphere. When he talks about – he fears the politicization – that may be too late.”
Chuck Todd, who for my money is a splendid political analyst but yesterday was plainly having a bad day, was not the only questioner along these lines. As usual, the press corps quickly descended into journalistic group think and framed the issue in binary terms: red-blue, liberal-conservative, Democrat-Republican. Behind every emerging issue, they see a political game in which one party seeks the upper hand over another. But not every issue fits this pattern, and the torture issue least of all, as John McCain taught us during the last presidential election. The White House press corps wasn’t listening.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Amount that President Obama has added to America’s “brand value” according to the Nation Brands Index:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
A former New York City police officer who had been arrested in 2012 for exchanging online messages about cooking women alive and eating them, and for illegally accessing data about potential victims in law-enforcement databases, was sentenced to time served.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”