Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mollie Hemingway Demolishes New Yorker Smear of Barr

Mollie Hemingway did the hard work of slogging through the New Yorker hit piece on AG Bill Barr (cf. Why Bill Barr Makes Libs Hysterical: Opus Dei And The All-Powerful PresidentWhy Bill Barr Makes Libs Hysterical: Opus Dei And The All-Powerful President) and she's come up with a catalogue of the 27 most egregious misrepresentations in the article:

27 Problems With Media’s Latest Failed Attack On Attorney General William Barr 
Every paragraph in the nearly 10,000-word New Yorker article has significant problems. Taken together, it is just one long string of innuendos insinuating that William Barr is evil.

Having just done the tedious slog myself, I know how mind numbing it can be to break such a tendentious article down. However, what I'll do is list Mollie's headings--so you can see the scope of her coverage as well as the scope of the smears--and I'll include the text under two of those headings, which were among the areas that particularly interested me. It's a long piece with a long lead up to the 27 points, so you'll want to follow the link--it provides a handy review of events of the past three years:

1. Lies About the Historical Record


As John Adams put it, ‘We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.’


2. The U.S. Didn’t Invade Kuwait In 1990

3. Mischaracterizes Independent Counsels

Rohde argues that Barr’s views on executive power are wrong. He praises President Jimmy Carter for signing legislation allowing independent counsels while denouncning all criticism of these counsels from Republicans or conservative Supreme Court justices.

Rohde writes, “During his [earlier] tenure, Barr turned down multiple requests to name prosecutors to examine potential executive-branch abuses. ‘The public integrity section told me that I had received more requests for independent counsel in eighteen months than all my predecessors combined,’ Barr recalled. ‘It was a joke.'”

Nowhere does Rohde mention that there was broad bipartisan consensus, led by Democrats, against the independent counsel legislation and that it was allowed to lapse as a result. Here’s the top of a 1999 CNN article, for example:

Saying, ‘I don’t think it is fixable,’ Sen. Tom Daschle on Sunday echoed the sentiments of many lawmakers on Capitol Hill toward the Independent Counsel Act.

With the statute set to expire on June 30, it is almost certain the law will be allowed to lapse.

‘The time has come for us to close the books and try to find another way within the Justice Department itself to handle these responsibilities,’ the South Dakota Democrat said on ABC’s ‘The Week.’

Even GOP members of Congress agree with the Senate’s minority leader.

4. Ignorance of Actual War Power Debates

5. Mischaracterizing Views On Criminal Justice

6. Confuses Problem With Mueller’s Political Team and Other People’s Political Action

7. Bizarre Characterization of Barr’s Memo About Obstruction of Justice

8. Speaking Of Rohde’s Sources

Rohde clearly did not have access to Barr or most people close to him. There is maybe one person quoted who is not a member of the Resistance. Instead, Rohde goes to implicated parties in the Russia collusion hoax, such as Wittes, James Baker, and David Laufman. Laufman wasn’t just implicated in the Russia story, he was also a figure in the smearing of Brett Kavanaugh. As one former Justice official asked, “Was Rohde even trying?”

The most telling choice for a source was Don Ayer, a former Bush DOJ official Rohde used extensively. Ayer has attacked Barr on NeverTrump podcasts and is the media’s go-to source for negative quotes about his former colleague.

It probably should have been mentioned that Ayer had a disastrous and brief tenure as the deputy attorney general before being replaced by Barr in 1990. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh scrambled to find a deputy after his pick failed to make it through Senate confirmation. An aide suggested Ayer, who made it through, but quickly proved to be a bad match. He only made it a few months before being canned.

On his way out, Ayer trashed his boss and his career never took off. There are reports he felt resentful of Barr going back to 1990. Ayer ended up handling pro bono cases for Jones Day. It’s fine to use activists, implicated parties, or people with personal grudges as sources, of course, but Rohde should have disclosed all of these things.

9. Weird Description of Confirmation Hearing

10. Revisionist History on Kavanaugh

11. False Claims About Barr’s Summary of Mueller

12. Falsely Claims Trump Demanded Barr Launch Investigation

13. Oddly Suggests Barr Should Have Used a Commission to Investigate

14. Suggests It’s Weird to Want FBI Investigated for Its Malfeasance

15. Falsely claims IG Found No Evidence of Political Bias

16. Claims Without Evidence that Barr Misrepresented IG

17. Doesn’t Know That Evidence on Russia Was Exculpatory

18. Numerous False Claims Regarding Horowitz Report

19. Describes Brennan as a Mild Critic of Trump

20. No, Trump Did Not Starve 33,000 FBI employees

21. Heavy-handed KGB References

22. Unaware That FBI Investigation Was Launched On Thinnest of Suspicions

23. False Claims About Mueller’s Executive Summaries

24. False Claims About Barr Holding Onto Mueller Report

25. False Claims About Durham Investigation

26. Paints Barr’s Father as Radical for Believing in Rules

27. Quotes Justice Department Official Saying Oversight Is Totalitarian


  1. I commend Mollie Hemmingway for her effort, but like the piece she was ridiculing/debunking/fisting, life is too short for 10,000 word diatribes and its rebuttal.

    We're reaching the point where no one is interested in honesty, integrity, and truthfulness. It's all about winning one for the team--so "our team" can be in power and make "the others" eat dirt. Sad.

    1. Well, you'll notice I wasn't about to try to break all the BS out into 27 bulleted points. A lot of useful reminders, however.

    2. "life is too short for 10,000 word diatribes and its rebuttal."

      This is exactly their tactics. Unending, unceasing, death by a thousand cuts. There are 1000 ways to lie, but only one truth.

      They (Dems) are not interested in the slightest about honesty. Discouraging, but I'm still hopeful that the truth will win.

    3. Anony: If "death by a thousand cuts" is their tactic, it's a losing one. The public has to engage with the "unceasing" effort, not turn it off. I doubt those reading the New Yorker article extends much beyond the NYC-DC political-media circus.

      The truth usually wins in the end. When it doesn't, it tends to be a trivial matter in the overall scheme of things. It's the fear of the truth losing out that raises alarm and anxiety--which is a good instinctual response.

  2. That darn Bush went and invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Who knew? Moronic

    Rob S