Knee Pad Journalism: NY Times’ Peter Baker Absolves Obama in Secret Service Lapses

Guest post by Kristinn Taylor

2004 video shows how a real president takes charge of his security.

The same newspaper that crucified President George W. Bush for the Abu Ghrab scandal even though Bush was many, many layers of government removed from the American military guards at the heart of the Iraqi prison scandal has given President Barack Obama absolution for the gross incompetence of the Secret Service even though Obama is in direct contact every minute of every day with the agency charged with protecting his life.

Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for the New York Times has written a churlish, excuse-making article published Tuesday night that at once hints Republican lawmakers want to see Obama killed and goes to great lengths to explain why the Obama has nothing to do with the failures of the Secret Service.

“President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security…”

“Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy…”

“Coming just weeks before midterm elections, they said, the intense focus on the matter might further undercut confidence in the government Mr. Obama runs even though it was hardly his fault an intruder with a knife made it into the White House.”

“While the director of the Secret Service is appointed by the president, the White House under either party typically defers to the agency on how to handle the president’s security. Even when a president is angry at missteps — as reports suggest Mr. Obama was after a 2011 shooting at the White House when one of his daughters was home — he rarely expresses that publicly. For one, it might come across as impolitic. For another, it might offend the very people a president depends on most.

So even though Mr. Obama had nothing to do with the various problems involving his security beyond appointing Ms. Pierson last year, his White House now finds itself in the position of defending the Secret Service to a degree.”

Baker gives Obama a pass on the dangerous incompetence of the Secret Service even though Obama has been intimately aware of the agency’s problems for years and is on his second term as president. Obama not only appointed the current director Julia Pierson in response to previous scandals, he also appointed the director’s superior, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Beyond making appointments, it is ultimately up to Obama to see that he, his family and home are properly protected—the same goes for any family man. Obama’s role as president adds extra importance to his job as protector.

Contrary to Baker’s pathetic excuse-making, Obama has hands on control of the Secret Service. Obama is president of the United States. When the president knows the agency in charge of protecting him and his family is falling down on the job it is up to him to personally bear down on that agency until it regains its professional standing.

Baker’s article is apparently meant to report on and deflect concerns among Democrats the Secret Service scandals could add to the impression of incompetence in governance by the Obama administration leading Republicans to exploit that perception in next month’s Congressional elections.

For Baker to flatly state that Obama as the head of government in continuous contact with the Secret Service bears no responsibility for the agency’s continuing failures is not journalism—it’s protection. Maybe Obama should replace the Secret Service with Peter Baker and others in the Obama-worshiping media. They seem more dedicated to protecting Obama than does the Secret Service.

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