The Minister of Justice Meets the Minister of Propaganda
Why William Barr’s meeting with Rupert Murdoch is so dangerous
When I read Maggie Haberman and Katie Benner’s excellent New York Times story “Trump Lashes Out at Fox News Poll as Barr Meets With Murdoch,” I knew that, unfortunately, the smoke would get more attention than the fire. Sure enough, the political class in our Twitter playground is covering Trump’s attacks on the Fox poll more than the profoundly troubling meeting of Attorney General William Barr with Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch.
I want you to imagine Republicans’ reaction if Eric Holder held secret meetings with media CEOs. They would be rabid, instant, and volcanic. There would be a damn gibbet erected on the National Mall, and rightly so.
There would be calls for his immediate removal from office. There would be a hundred baroque conspiracy theories ascribing a sinister plot of liberal subversion against the press and inappropriate pressure brought to bear on media outlets. Editorials and opinion pieces would blast him for playing politics with the office of the senior law enforcement officer of the nation.
The Attorney General — any attorney general — is supposed to be a unique player in our system, above the politics of the White House and Congress, operating without fear or favor. Yes, the AG is a presidential appointment, but by bipartisan norms for generations, he or she isn’t typically… what’s the phrase?
Oh, yes. An obvious political hack.
Like many other conservatives, I called out the moments when Eric Holder got a little too close to active engagement in politics during the Obama administration. He was, at the least, more obviously mindful of the power of his office on the political side. How ironic that seems today; Holder looks like a model of probity compared to William Barr.
So, yeah, every single conservative — and a lot of liberal — media outlets would spend 24 hours a day losing their fucking minds if a Democrat did this.
No one — liberal or conservative — should want a politically active attorney general who puts the president’s personal agenda ahead of the law and justice. The precedent is just too dark.