February 24, 2008

No "There" Here, There, or Anywhere

Hatched by Dafydd

Close scrutiny of a lengthy article in today's Washington Post about John McCain's nefarious dealings with an admitted lobbyist reveals -- that absolutely nothing happened.

Here is the core of the article:

The McCain campaign said Thursday that the senator had not met with Paxson or Iseman on the matter. "No representative of Paxson or Alcalde and Fay personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC regarding this proceeding," the campaign said in a statement.

But Paxson said yesterday, "I remember going there to meet with him." He recalled that he told McCain: "You're head of the Commerce Committee. The FCC is not doing its job. I would love for you to write a letter."

All right: McCain doesn't remember a personal meeting, Paxson does; neither has documentation that would prove one way or another whose memory is better. But who cares? What is the point? The point is McCain's communication with the FCC... and on that, everyone is in agreement:

On Nov. 17, McCain sent a letter to FCC Chairman William E. Kennard saying, "I write today to express my concern about the Commission's continuing failure to act" on the three-station deal involving Paxson....

The second letter was sent to other members of the FCC after McCain had not received a reply from Kennard.

"The sole purpose of this request is to secure final action on a matter that has now been pending over two years," McCain wrote. "I emphasize that my purpose is not to suggest in any way how you should vote -- merely that you vote...."

After the letters became public in 2000, they were widely criticized. Kennard's predecessor, however, defended McCain, saying he did not find the letters objectionable. A subsequent review by the FCC General Counsel's Office determined that McCain had violated the commission's ex parte rules, though the breach was deemed inadvertent.

Five days after McCain's second letter, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to approve the deal. The commission also imposed a condition prohibiting Cornerstone from "proselytizing." Cornerstone would not agree to those terms, and the deal collapsed.

And that's it! That's all John McCain stands accused of: lighting a fire under a foot-dragging federal agency. FCC Chairman William Kennard, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1997, thought it was improper for McCain to tell him he was incompetent and to get his posterior in gear; but there is not even agreement among FCC chairmen appointed by Bill Clinton... as Kennard's predecessor, Reed Hundt (1993-1997), saw nothing wrong or improper about it.

There's a fancy term for a representative or senator prodding a federal agency to fish or get off the pot, to stop dawdling and do its job, to make a decision one way or another instead of endlessly dithering and doing nothing: We call it "constituent services," and it's a vital function of the legislative branch -- which has, after all, oversight over federal agencies.

I think I've told you before that when Sachi was trying to become a citizen, the INS threw one roadblock after another in her way. At the end, she had satisfied every requirement (some of them more than once, as INS would, e.g., delay responding to her for eight months -- then tell her that her fingerprints had "expired" and had to be retaken). All she needed was the ceremony where they would swear her in... but they refused to set a date! They just wouldn't respond; and Sachi knew that if they delayed long enough, she might have to start the process all over again.

So we contacted our then-representative, and he contacted the INS and yelled at them. They finally bestirred themselves and gave Sachi a swearing-in date.

What is the difference between that service and the one McCain performed for Lowell "Bud" Paxson?

"But Paxson gave McCain money!" So what? We had contributed to our congressman's reelection.

"But Paxson flew McCain around in his corporate jet!" That was perfectly legal at the time (1999); it has since been banned, but there is no ethical requirement that a senator anticipate future decisions of the Senate to change its procedures.

"But McCain interfered with the functioning of the Federal Communications Commission!" Right -- and they bloody well needed interfering with, if they were going to leave a company dangling for thirty months, while the FCC decided whether leftist activists in Pittsburgh could derail a business deal because of their own anti-religious bigotry:

The transaction called for the Christian broadcaster Cornerstone TeleVision of Wall, Pa., to take over the noncommercial license of WQEX, the sister station to public broadcaster WQED. Cornerstone would then sell its commercial license to Paxson for $35 million. The money would be split between Cornerstone and WQED, which was operating in the red.

The proposed station swap was highly contentious in Pittsburgh and involved a multi-pronged lobbying effort by the parties to the deal. Local activists and some community leaders had objected to one of their public TV stations being turned over to a religious channel.

The public opposition caused a long delay at the FCC, and by late 1999, it had been 30 months since the deal was offered for FCC approval. "What you had was the FCC normally taking a year to approve the transfer of stations, but they took two years," Paxson said. [Actually, the FCC took two and a half years, to be precise; and they would have taken another two and a half years, had McCain not kicked them in the glutes.]

And this is the absolute worst that the New York Times and the Washington Post, not to mention AP and a raft of lesser "elite" media sources, can find to smear John McCain; this is the big scandal that is supposed to sink his campaign.

(Oh, I forgot one other "McCain" scandal: According to many news sources, John McCain (R-AZ, 65%) actually represents the same state as some other guy, Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ, 84%), who was just indicted; even worse, the Republican representative from Arizona volunteered for the presidential campaign of the Republican senator from Arizona.

(Of course, Renzi didn't engage in any land-swapping deals with McCain -- as did a certain other senator running for president with his longtime pal and fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, now under indictment for political corruption; but that, as Democrats are wont to say, is totally different.)

This McCain "scandal" -- he wrote a couple of letters to the FCC telling them to get on the hump and make a decision, but pointedly told them he didn't care what the decision was -- is so limp that I'm amazed the drive-by media isn't embarassed to flog it. But flog it they are, and flog it they shall, swallowing their humiliation in the desperate hope against hope that they can portray McCain as corrupt... which is about the only chance they have to defeat him and put Barack Obama in la Casa Blanca.

It's so sad, the depths to which the fourth estate has sunk. Why doesn't the Washington Post just end the suspense -- and reorganize itself as a 527?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 24, 2008, at the time of 2:30 PM

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The following hissed in response by: hunter

And here, another day passing, and Senator Feinstein is unindicted, much less even notably discussed, over her blatant, overt, obvious self dealing with Defense Contracts she personally voted on for her own family owned company.
The range of money involved is in the hundreds of million$.
But the front page space for the MSM is over a relationship wherein nothing happened.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 24, 2008 6:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

The Times has had several days to add substance to this tale. Do you think they are desperate yet? Perhaps even to the point of offering a big reward for solid information sort of desperate? Yes, they are.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 24, 2008 6:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: Davod

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 25, 2008 4:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

The party of corruption is much more effective at training the media on what to do.
Feinstein and Reid are just two senior members of the openly corrupt democrat leadership.
But they are politically alligend witht he media, so it is no big deal.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 25, 2008 7:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

The NYT is apparently backtracking on the adultery angle, hoping people will forget it until they can find some evidence, but they're trying to keep the "he's not Mr. Clean" angle going if they can, hoping somebody, somewhere can find some evidence of that particular hit job having some truth to it. One of the bylined reporters on the NYT slime piece wrote a similar story eight years ago. It didn't have any traction then either.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 25, 2008 10:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

One other interesting Patterico type angle, is that the Washington bureau chief who so haplessly championed the false adultery story in the NYT is formerly the managing editor of the LAT who engineered the 11th hour hit pieces on the Gevernator right before his election. There, Marilyn Thompson, a bylined reporter on the NYT piece, worked for him.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 25, 2008 11:08 AM

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