Monday’s CBS Early Show featured two stories on the security breach at last week’s White House state dinner, but each made only scant reference to Obama administration officials being partly to blame. Instead, both segments faulted the couple themselves, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, as well as the Secret Service.
In the first story, White House correspondent Bill Plante placed blame squarely on the Salahis, referring to them as “notorious” and “probably delighted with the attention.” Plante even noted how “some members of Congress are calling for charges to be brought against the Salahis.”
Only near the end of the report did Plante make any mention of the White House staff being responsible: “The Secret Service has admitted it made mistakes, but several people who attended Wednesday night’s dinner suggest the agency shouldn’t shoulder all the blame. Because the White House was also at fault.” Washington Post reporter Amy Argetsinger explained: “Procedure would have dictated that someone from the social office should have been at the door. These are the people who recognize the people on the guest list.”
Later in the show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed former Secret Service Deputy Director Bruce Bowen about the breach and wondered: “From the perspective of the times we live in and the almost omnipresent threat to the White House, this kind of a breach, how – is it explainable and is it excusable?” The headline on screen used the same label Plante had used to describe the Salahis: “White House Party Crashers; Latest On DC’s Most Notorious Duo.”
Smith did point out the fault of the White House as well: “And under normal circumstances for an event like this is there not also supposed to be somebody from the social office of the White House?” Bowen replied: “Yes, there is.” Smith continued without elaborating on the social office failure: “And in this case, there apparently was not. So if people come in and present themselves and say ‘we’re supposed to get inside,’ what do you think went wrong then?”
Bowen acknowledged blame for the Secret Service: “I think there was an initial breakdown at a check-point that was manned by a Secret Service uniform division officers. The Secret Service recognized the short coming and has admitted their fault. And most importantly, they have sought to rectify this immediately.” He went on to defend their protection: “...the important thing to remember is that the President or any of our other protectees were never in any danger by virtue of those other layers of security....the Secret Service has vetted over 7 million people in the recent past, during the campaign, and has acted almost flawlessly.”