The New York Times’ David Cay Johnston is an excellent reporter (as shown by these two books), but he really gives us a clunker in tomorrow’s paper about AG-designate Eric Holder. (Updated below–there are two David Johnstons!).
Ostensibly, the article shows that Holder was “more deeply involved” in Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich than “his supporters acknowledge.” So what’s the news?
Well, nothing really. No new story. Nothing different from what was already known before. In fact, much of the story derives from Dan Burton’s 2002 Congressional “report” on the matter. Holder talked about the issue with Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel who then represented Rich, and gave the judgment–“neutral, leaning toward favorable”–that he has since acknowledged was a mistake.
Look, when Federalist Society founder Steve Calabresi says that this isn’t a problem, then it’s really grasping at straws to keep pushing it.
Let’s just say that Johnston had a bad day. But there have to be better ways to have a bad day than getting your stories from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
Update: The laugher of the piece actually comes from Congressional wingnut Lamar Smith, who claims that “If a Republican had engaged in this kind of behavior, he never would have received Senate confirmation.”
Unless, of course, he was Bush’s first-term Assistant AG for OLC Jay Bybee, who signed off on John Yoo’s torture memos, and was confirmed as a judge on the Ninth Circuit. Or Alberto Gonzales, who was confirmed as Attorney General. Is Smith living in an alternative universe, or does he just know that he can play the press for all it’s worth?
Somewhat Sheepish Update: Turns out that there are two David Johnstons at the NYT. The one with the “Cay” in the middle did not co-write this piece; the other one did. I’m not familiar in detail with the record of the middle name-less one. This isn’t a good sign, however.