Docs Show Holder Advised on How to Manipulate Press on Fast & Furious
Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has divulged the content of an email sent to Attorney General Eric Holder by a communications adviser instructing him on how to manipulate the press over the debacle.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, documents surrounding the Fast and Furious debacle have been obtained by Judicial Watch which proves the White House and the Department of Justice colluded with CBS to silence Attkisson’s investigation, as TruthRevolt previously reported.
One email dated October 5, 2011, (withheld until now, as Attkisson points out, by President Obama under executive privilege) was sent by Matthew Miller to the Attorney General (Attkisson adds emphasis):
Send a letter to the Hill explaining what happened. Put in context the amount of information you get every week, say that you don’t recall reading those bullets or being aware of Fast and Furious at any time before early this year, but in any event, you certainly weren’t aware of the gun walking aspect of it until the news broke earlier this year (at which point you took immediate steps to have the IG investigate, etc.). This needs to happen tomorrow. In fact, it should’ve happened today. The last time your credibility was directly questioned was whether you had disclosed all of your amicus briefs — the story started to break on a Thursday night, and we made people stay up all night compiling information so we could get a response out by 1 pm or so on Friday.
Secondary advice tells Holder to “run into” specifically named reporters and to appear “in a relaxed manner” to the cameras. Miller wrote:
Find a way for you to get in front of a reporter or two about this. You don’t want to call a press conference on this because it will blow things out perspective, but if you have any events in the next few days (preferably tomorrow), you could find a way to take two or three questions on it afterwards. Or if that’s not easily doable, you could find a way to “run into” a couple of reporters on your way to something. Maybe Pete Williams, Carrie, Pete Yost — that part can be managed. Most important is that you’re in front of a camera in a relaxed manner giving a response you have rehearsed…. It would be ideal if those two things happened in the same day so you didn’t have two news cycles of responding — you want to do it all at once. There may be things you need to do to go on offense as well, but I think most important right now is that you answer the charge about covering this up. Then you can move to offense.
Miller urged Holder to go on the offense more often than not. Saying, “this part has to be really carefully crafted and delivered,” he scripted this possible statement: “But let’s be clear what this is all about. I’ve ordered an investigation into what happened. But there are people on the Hill who don’t care about what really happened. For them this has become about scoring political points and weakening an agency charged with cracking down on gun violence. There are a lot of powerful lobbyists and their allies on the Hill who have wanted to cripple the ATF for a long time, and they’re using this as an opportunity to do so. I’m not going to let them. Its clear the ATF made mistakes here. We’ve cleaned house, and we’re going to fix the agency, but we’re not going to allow it to be put out of business by people carrying water for the gun lobby.”
The DOJ’s Kevin Ohlson advised on how to spin a Politco.com story regarding Darrell Issa asking Holder to admit he knew all along. Ohlson’s email to Holder and Miller:
This story is gaining traction. You need to stop it from snowballing — now. Having unnamed sources in the Department defend you is never going to work. I would suggest an immediate on the record pen-and-pad with all regular DOJ reporters (no interlopers who want to agitate) — and no cameras — in your conference room. Then you lay it all out showing that this drumbeat from the Right is bullshit.
Attkisson points out that DOJ’s Tracy Schmaler discussed how to spin the press with White House’s Eric Schultz as late as October 4, 2014 (with Attiksson’s notes):
‘I’ve talked to NYT, NBC and NPR —gave them all this. NBC not likely to go. Still waiting on other two.’ [Note: Then, the documents redact the ‘points’ Schmaler actually sent to the news outlets. That is public information that should not be redacted.]
[Schultz to Schmaler] Any way we can fix Fox?
Attkisson’s investigation at that time was also a point of discussion for Schmaler and Schultz. Schmaler said Attkisson was “out of control” and contacted her editor and CBS’s Bob Schieffer to tell them so. Schultz praised that action saying, “Good. Her piece was really bad for AG.” Schultz went on to say that he was sending over National Journal‘s Susan Davis to cover Issa and Fast and Furious. “I said you could load her up on the leaks, etc.,” Schultz told Schmaler.