Republican Sen. Rand Paul sent the media into another meltdown on July 23 when he called on President Trump to revoke the security clearance of former President Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan. He charged that Brennan is “monetizing” his privileges by becoming an on-air analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. That doesn’t even count Brennan’s speaking fees.
Brennan’s spouting inanities about treason that make a mockery of his former position is a disgraceful spectacle.
When John Gizzi of Newsmax asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about Sen. Paul’s request, she said yes, and not just about Brennan’s clearance but that of other Obama appointees like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former national security adviser Susan Rice. “The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they politicize and, in some cases, monetize their public service and security clearances,” she said.
Not surprisingly, the Trump-hating networks wailed and screamed — especially the ones paying Brennan (NBC and MSNBC) and Clapper (CNN). When these men come on television, they are treated as national treasures, described as nonpartisans and asked softball questions. Clapper’s toughest interrogator — the only one reminding viewers he lied to Congress — has been Meghan McCain on ABC’s “The View.” How is that not pertinent to his credibility?
Removing their clearances could be painted as petty, but it would also remove some insider glamor and any remaining shred of nonpartisanship — if you’re not paying attention to their wild talk on TV and Twitter about Trump’s “treasonous” actions and other assorted evils.
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer even desperately claimed, “If you remove security clearances from a James Clapper, for example … that’s a potential national security threat.” Because no one upholds national security like … CNN? The network that falsely accused the U.S. military of gassing Laotians during the Vietnam War? The network that channeled Iraqi propaganda about America bombing baby-formula factories? The network that couldn’t show enough Abu Ghraib photos worldwide as it explained how each image was a terrorist recruitment poster?
On NBC, chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson tried to claim that people like Brennan and Clapper are somehow bipartisan, a most laughable proposition. “Most of the officials worked for both Democrats and Republicans and have been tough on President Trump publicly,” she said. If you call Trump treasonous, NBC calls that “tough.” If you suggest these former Obama aides are greedy partisans, NBC suggests that’s “authoritarian.”
What’s comical is reporters like Jackson accusing Trump of “politicizing” this fracas … when these Obama intelligence officials were spying on the Trump campaign in 2016, unmasking identities in a search for dirt to bury him. As top FBI officials probed the Russia ties of Trump aides, they were trading texts about how Trump had to be stopped. Even now, getting paid by highly ideological CNN and MSNBC to offer regular Trump-bashing analysis is politicizing intelligence. When in the last 50 years have we seen our intelligence officials so wildly exploit their power and moral authority (such as it is) to get a president removed from office?
The networks have always politicized intelligence, back to the Vietnam War days. The FBI and the CIA were under fervent leftist attack in the 1970s. They seemed to be filled with villains every time the Republicans were in office — with former President Nixon and Watergate, former President Reagan and the Iran-contra affair, and former President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. But when they’re scheming alongside Obama to help Hillary Clinton win, well, that’s somehow patriotic activity.
The outraged journalists are not seriously addressing their own self-interest here: how they may have used these Obama officials as anonymous sources to ruin Trump since 2015. We may never know how useful they were, but the media ardor on behalf of these “nonpartisans” should color everyone’s view of this kerfuffle.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.