How do you get the liberals at the New York Times to embrace America’s internal surveillance agencies? Get President Trump and Republicans to criticize them.
Saturday’s off-lead story by Adam Goldman and Maggie Haberman, “Hurdle Facing F.B.I. Chief? The President – Politics hard to Avoid as Trump Weighs In.” The Republicans in Congress are hurting morale at FBI, an agency the Times suddenly adores. The jump-page headline: “F.B.I. Director Wants To Move Agency Ahead, But Trump is in the Way.” The text box: “Constant criticisms have damaged morale at the bureau.”
That’s pretty bold, since it’s pretty much the paper’s raison d’etre to demoralize U.S. intelligence agencies by printing leaked classified documents, from the Pentagon Papers to the exposure of a legal terrorist-fighting banking surveillance program, SWIFT, to WikiLeaks.
Yet the Times was undaunted in blaming Republicans for somehow demoralizing the powerful federal law and security agency.
When President Trump tapped Christopher A. Wray to be his next F.B.I. director, it signaled a clear break from the tenure of James B. Comey, whom Mr. Trump had grown to distrust and eventually fired.
It seemed Mr. Trump would let his handpicked F.B.I. director do his work unimpeded, giving Mr. Wray some breathing room. “I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity,” the president said in June.
But nearly five months since Mr. Wray started the job, Mr. Trump has not made Mr. Wray’s life easier as he seeks to restore the public’s confidence in the country’s premier law enforcement agency -- one that the president says is in “Tatters.”
Mr. Trump’s verbal assaults have put Mr. Wray and his leadership team in a difficult position. Mr. Wray is trying to move past his predecessor’s era and make sure there is not a whiff of politics at the F.B.I. He has promised the F.B.I.’s work would be based on the “facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice -- period.”
Yet Mr. Trump and his allies in Congress are making that task much harder.
Current and former F.B.I. officials say Mr. Trump’s criticisms, and those of normally supportive Republican members of Congress, have damaged morale in some quarters of the bureau. Senior agents have expressed fear that if their names appear in the news media, they will be singled out for attack by politicians.
The liberal paper’s rekindled love affair with domestic security and surveillance extended to mocking Republicans for suggesting a political tilt at the agency (which the left has slammed as a straight-laced Republican holdout):
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During a congressional hearing this month, Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, asked Mr. Wray about the political views of some of his top agents. F.B.I. officials said they were stunned that Mr. Gohmert singled out a seemingly random group of agents. Several of those mentioned had nothing to do with either the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information, or the F.B.I.’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
If Mr. Trump continues to go after the F.B.I., however, Mr. Wray might have to change course and risk a blowup. F.B.I. agents want to know that the director has their back.
Also on Saturday, the Times (with help from the nonprofit investigative journalist center ProPublica) mounted a defense of another agency even more dear to its collective (or is that collectivist?) heart, “E.P.A. Officials, Disheartened by Agency’s Direction, Leave in Droves.” Reporters Lisa Friedman, Marina Affo, and Derek Kravitz reported a story that would probably disturb mostly the liberal readers of the New York Times:
More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.....The departures reflect poor morale and a sense of grievance at the agency, which has been criticized by President Trump and top Republicans in Congress as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach. That unease is likely to deepen following revelations that Republican campaign operatives were using the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of emails from E.P.A. officials suspected of opposing Mr. Trump and his agenda.