On CNN anchor Campbell Brown’s “No Bias, No Bull” program on Monday evening, New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis and Time magazine editor-at-large Mark Halperin agreed that there was no problem with the transition team of President-Elect Barack Obama delaying the release of their internal findings into their contacts with the office of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Louis saw “nothing but pluses” over this decision, as it would push the release into Christmas week, a time where there “won’t be a lot of viewership.” Halperin emphasized that as long as “there are no embarrassing contacts or politically-sensitive contacts, they’re fine.”
Louis and Halperin participated in a panel discussion, which began 18 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, along with Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard. Brown first posed the following question to Louis: “As we have been talking about, the U.S. attorney asked Barack Obama, the transition team, to delay releasing their internal findings for at least a week, until they have had a chance to do interviews of their own -- probably some pluses to that for Obama, as well as minuses. What do you think?”
The columnist, who also has a talk show on Air America’s flagship, WWRL in New York, gushed over the apparent genius inherent in this delay in transparency: “Oh, nothing but pluses, in my opinion -- it will come out some time in that weekend when nobody is going to be around. Most of the editors and producers will all be on vacation. There won’t be a lot of viewership. It will come out sort of quietly. If there are any embarrassments in there for the Obama team, we won’t know about them at full blast. And that suits Rod Blagojevich just fine; that suits Obama just fine.”
The CNN anchor then asked if Halperin agreed with Louis. As you might expect, he did:
HALPERIN: I pretty much agree. I think this is one of these rare cases in our political media life where the facts will actually matter. If there are no embarrassing contacts or politically-sensitive contacts, they’re fine, and what we do know, and get the strong sense from talking to people around the investigation, and based on what the independent counsel -- or the U.S. attorney did today is -- there’s no indication that Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, thinks that anyone associated with Obama did anything illegal. As long as there’s no law-breaking, any of the politically-embarrassing stuff, I think, won’t matter.
Brown followed-up by introducing Hayes and his criticism of the media’s nonchalant coverage of Obama’s responses to the Blagojevich scandal:
BROWN: Steve, I know you think that reporters are letting Obama get off easy on this one. You know, today, he only got one question on it at this news conference.
STEPHEN HAYES: Yeah, I just think he’s gotten a little bit of a pass on it, and that’s not to say -- I mean, I agree with both Mark and Errol. That's not to say that I think that -- you know, that it's likely to show that they have done anything wrong or anybody did any law-breaking. I just think that if we were talking about Republicans here, if we were talking about the Bush administration -- you know, you had two senior aides to Barack Obama who had said things in the past that contradicted what Obama was saying today, in Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod on two different issues. And I think if this had been a Republican or this were the Bush administration, you would have had huge headlines -- you know, ‘Bush Contradicted by Top Aides.’ And we simply haven't seen that. I mean, you know -- those facts have been buried, I think, in The New York Times’ story that I read on this. It just hasn't been the same, I think, same level of -- same standards.