‘I heard it on the news’ excuse doesn’t wash for President Obama

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

Like a pitcher in a tough situation on the mound, the Obama administration has its own go-to offering when a scandal brews.

It’s not so much a pitch, but a pretty lame excuse. When President Obama spoke recently about the Veterans Administration scandal, he trotted out his favorite excuse that he’d just been informed via news reports.

And it’s not the first time this administration has used the excuse: The flyover over New York City in 2009 of his plane with a fighter jet in trail, the “Fast and Furious” gun scandal, the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, and the seizure of phone records of Associated Press reporters by his Department of Justice.

WATCHIN’ THE NEWS: President Obama claims he’s been hearing about several scandals “on the news.”

When each of those scandals were revealed, President Obama, White House press secretary Jay Carney or someone else from the administration told the nation the president had just received the information from news reports. Not official briefings. As usual, he’s “outraged,” and something must be done.

We’ve gone from Harry S. Truman, he of the “buck stops here,” to the ever-absent commander-in-chief, whose remote stops on the news when he needs a briefing. Isn’t that the purpose of the West Wing? How is it the supposed most powerful man in the world is no better informed than the average citizen?

To issue this lame excuse when it comes to the treatment of veterans is a massive breach of trust. As commander in chief, President Obama has a duty to the veterans — many of whom rely on the VA for their health care — to ensure they aren’t waiting months for care that often turns out to be substandard. To send these men and women to war and to willfully neglect their needs when they return hope is dereliction of duty at its worst.

There are three possible reasons this excuse is being used again. The first possibility is the president is so grossly incompetent, distracted and out of the loop that his only reliable source for information is the legacy news media. Guess this pokes a hole in the whole “smartest man in the room” narrative. Maybe he’s surrounded himself with “yes men,” who don’t want to give him any bad news at all. Better for the sake of their jobs to let their boss hear of it first on the network news.

The second is he’s lazy and doesn’t care to hold his administration and the bureaucracy accountable. The fact Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki still has a job after these revelations of VA misconduct may be proof of this.

The third is Obama is informed but is trying to play himself off as a victim with a sympathy-seeking lie.

Speaking of the legacy media, it might not be the most complete source of information. According to the Pew Research Center’s annual report on the state of the media, newsroom employment decreased 6.4 percent in 2012 with more cubicles expected to empty in 2013. According to the same report, a quarter of the 952 TV stations that air news programs don’t produce them.

Since the president and the first lady are so fond of hashtag campaigns on Twitter, here’s one: #doyourjob.

Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@watchdog.org

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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