Newsweek's Jonathan Alter Demands Evidence of White House Corruption, Gets It

January 7th, 2011 3:11 PM

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, who last year wrote a lengthy book on the first year of Barack Obama's presidency, looked very displeased on Dylan Ratigan's MSNBC program earlier this week when other guests concurred with accusations of corruption against the White House.

The Ratigan segment centered on a statement by Rep. Darrel Issa, R-Calif., incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Goernment Reform Committee, that Obama's is "one of the most corrupt administrations ever."

"There is zero evidence" of corruption, he insisted. When fellow guest Tim Carney, a Washington Examiner columnist, disagreed, Alter demanded Carney produce evidence. So he did (video below the fold).

In a followup post on the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog, Carney listed what he notes is an incomplete list of corruption in the Obama White House:

• Ex Google lobbyist Andrew McLaughlin working as the No. 2 tech policy guy in the White House discussing net neutrality with Google lobbyists (registered and unregistered) while Google stood to profit from the administration's Net Neutrality rules.

• Former Goldman Sachs lobbyist Mark Patterson taking a job as Treasury Department chief of staff within 9 months of his work for Goldman.

• Former H&R Block CEO Mark Ernst being hired by Obama's IRS and then writing new regulations on tax prep -- regulations that H&R Block has endorsed, and that will help H&R Block.

• Obama officials meeting off campus for official business for the sake of avoiding the Presidential Records Act.

• And this nugget from the same NYTimes piece: "Two lobbyists also cited instances in which the White House had suggested that a job candidate be “deregistered” as a lobbyist in Senate records to avoid violating the administration’s hiring restrictions."

• The firing of AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin. As my colleague Byron York has explained: "The method of Walpin's firing could be a violation of the 2008 Inspectors General Reform Act, which requires the president to give Congress 30 days' notice, plus an explanation of cause, before firing an inspector general."

• Giving a car company (Chrysler) to a political entity that spent millions to get you elected. This deal involved alleged threats by a since-indicted car czar to knee-cap investors who didn't want to agree to the White House's deal.

Of course, as Carney notes, Issa's statement is hyperbolic. But Alter's indignant on-air response to accusations of corruption suggests that he thinks the Obama administration is wonderfully free of corrupt practices of any kind. (It should be noted that corruption, as defined here, can include activities that are perfectly legal.)

That is nonsense, of course. But for a reporter who can't seem to find a single fault in Obama's economic or foreign policies (any problems are Bush's fault, of course), it's not altogether surprising.

Note: I was once an intern at the Washington Examiner.