FAST AND FURIOUS: What Soledad said!


And what Maddow didn’t: Like Kevin Drum and others, we recommend Katherine Eban’s detailed report in Fortune concerning the Fast and Furious fury. For Drum’s take, just click this.

Eban’s piece is long and detailed—and it's deeply perplexing. If it’s accurate, it turns the Fast and Furious story completely on its head.

To read Eban’s piece, click this. It's fascinating, detailed and long.

Last night, when Eban appeared on CNN, Soledad O’Brien did the right thing. She asked the obvious question: Why the heck did Eric Holder say the things he said?
O’BRIEN (6/27/12): The premise of your article is that there was no gun-walking in Fast and Furious, which completely contradicts really the central argument that we've seen in the political sphere now for months.

EBAN: That's right. After six months of investigation, what became clear to me is that the things that Congress was holding up as centerpieces of proof that guns had been walked were, in fact, misconstrued, incorrect, resulted from other motives, other reasons, that there were alternate explanations and that really, this was a case of cherry picking, you know, small phrases, sentences, without any of the context really that you need in order to understand what actually happened in Phoenix Group Seven.

O'BRIEN: So why, back in November of 2011, would the Attorney General Eric Holder say that, in fact, the tactic happened and it was unacceptable?
At this point, O’Brien played tape of Holder testifying to Congress. “Instances of so-called gun-walking are simply unacceptable,” he was shown saying. “Regrettably, this tactic was used as part of Fast and Furious, which was launched to combat gun trafficking and violence on our southwest border.”

Why the heck did Holder say that if Eban’s reporting is accurate? If there was no gun-walking in Fast and Furious, why did he say there was?

We don’t know the answer to that. Neither did Eban, although she offered one possible explanation. (“I do say it appears that the Obama administration has basically caved or laid down on the railroad tracks in order to hold it at bay,” she said. “You know, let's not let it come up and get the political appointees. Let's hold it down in Phoenix.”)

If Eban’s reporting and explanation are accurate, Democrats should be the ones seeking Holder's head. That said, O’Brien did the right thing last night. She noted the obvious contradiction at the heart of this matter:

Eban says there was no “gun walking” in Fast and Furious. But Holder has said that there was.

Why did Holder say that? We don’t know. But if you watched Rachel Maddow interview Eban last night, you didn’t have to worry your pretty or handsome little head about that obvious question.

Maddow didn’t do the right thing. (Increasingly, this is her program’s trademark.) She simply accepted on faith that everything Eban wrote was correct. She never even mentioned the conflict with what Holder has said.

On Maddow’s show, Eban’s report unambiguously proved that the bad guys have been completely wrong. The fact that our guy has said they were right was sent to the ocean floor.

Maddow suppressed the contradiction which lies at the heart of this matter. But then, she seems to engage in this sort of conduct pretty much every night now. On Tuesday night, she pulled another one of her phony “quotation events,” this time involving Karl Rove.

Rove is a slippery player, of course. Increasingly, so is Maddow.

Maddow toyed with a statement Rove made on a recent Fox program. She made you think that she had played his answer to a particular question. But she hadn’t actually done so. In fact, she had clipped out the part of the session where Rove did give his actual answer, such as it was.

Maddow marveled at how unresponsive Rove was, after throwing away the part of the session where he gave his response.

(Other parts of this segment were equally awful. On a journalistic basis, Maddow’s program is sinking quite fast.)

To watch Tuesday night’s segment, click here. To us, that segment just didn’t sound right.

For that reason, we fact-checked what Rove had said. As usual, we found that Maddow’s presentation had pretty much been doctored.

When you watched that segment on Tuesday, could you pretty much tell?

Tomorrow: Maddow, Frank Rich and Bain Capital


  1. Here's a link to Karl Rove on Fox

    I'm through with reading the daily howler. The following statement "For that reason, we fact-checked what Rove had said. As usual, we found that Maddow’s presentation had pretty much been doctored" sends me away. Even Greta was floored by Rove's diversion.

    1. No, she was not. Greta was floored by the ugly tale of behind-the-scenes "thuggery" Rove was telling about Bauer, Siegelman, et al., which was in answer to her question about why the FEC was going after his organization.

      I happened to see that segment. Van Susteren was riveted by the ridiculous tale Rove was telling. Fox just eats that stuff up.

    2. Yeah, 3:19, it gets pretty bad when you are down to defending Karl Rove just to get another shot in at Maddow.

  2. Wow.

    "through with reading the daily howler" over this?

    Because he's striaghtforwardly correct. Maddow is stone-cold faking it here. Using creative editing.

    The thing is, you may despise Rove -- I do -- but the fact is he did in fact make a response on the merits of the contributions/donors issue.

    That part was indeed cut out by Maddow.

    Maddow did indeed pretend Rove had made no response on the merits -- that his entire reply was a "non sequiter."

    And that's just not accurate.

    Rove said, in effect, we've got careful lawyers making sure we stay on the side of social policy issues advocacy. And, the other side is doing it too, was his second line of defense.

    You may disagree with that response.

    Or, you can be like Rachel Maddow and simply pretend it didn't happen.

    1. I followed the two links and Rove's response about the careful lawyers was to the question "So the big question is, Crossroads GPS -- is it a political committee or a social welfare organization? And how do you know?" The segment Maddow played was to the question "VAN SUSTEREN: So what's -- what do you think is sort of the message you're getting by the FEC complaint?" Maddow's clip includes Rove reciting the title fox news gave to its van susteren-rove segment "rove-obama-campaign-trying-intimidate-my-crossroads-gps-group-thuggish-behavior." I can't see the justification for saying "Maddow is stone-cold faking it here. Using creative editing." Rove's peculiar response seemed to have even floored Van Susteren, who said "So I mean, I must admit I'm surprised by -- I mean, I didn't expect to hear all that. I didn't know about that background. I'm curious. So this is -- I guess so this is personal?"

  3. Nothing on the SCOTUS decision today Bob?

    1. Roberts declared it a tax to set up a defeat for the contraceptive mandate, lawsuts around which are forthcoming

    2. Bob can't comment on the SCOTUS decision until he hears what Rachel Maddow says about it, so he knows what to be against.

      She does his thinking for him in reverse.

  4. Because that, not the truth value of your statements, will determine whether I listen to anything you say.

  5. How could Holder not know that "gun walking" was not the policy of the task force, but the action of a single disgruntled agent who didn't like working for a female supervisor? How could he not know that it was the US attorneys who were standing in the way of wrapping the straw men up and confiscating the guns? Were these the US attorneys appointed by Bush after he fired the whole bunch?
    Questions, questions.

  6. Could it be that the people interviewed saw this as a perfect "CYA" opportunity? Seems like it to me. 2000 guns ended up in hands of the Mexican drug cartels because of one "bad apple" and reluctant prosecutors? There seems to be a lot missing from this account. How did the reporter get access to "pertinent" documents that the DOJ won't even let Congress see? Could it be that those "pertinent" documents weren't all that "pertinent" after all? Sounds like someone is getting played here. Should we even consider the coincidence of this article appearing on the eve of the Eric Holder Contempt of Congress vote? Questions, questions, indeed.

  7. I can't forget Rachel's interview of Jon Stewart in November 2010, or so, when she basically averred that she and Jon were in the same business (political satire, I guess, or maybe commentary with a light, giggly touch). Stewart, without cracking a smile, denied as much. He countered -- cogently, I thought -- that Rachel's analysis show bore a much greater responsibility to the public than his mere comedy show.

    If Rachel wants her show to be an ersatz "Daily Show," I guess that's between her, her audience, and her network.

    1. She does seem to want that--her problem is that judged by that standard her show is abysmal. She tries to be funny, but everything is so forced it doesn't work.

      And as a journalist she is at best mediocre.

      I do agree to some extent with Bob's critics though--it's getting to be all Maddow, all the time around here. I know she's a hero to some lefties (I know one or two), but I think he gives her a little too much attention.


  8. He did write "we pseudo-liberals" earlier this week, which everyone missed or ignored.

  9. It's an interesting article, and this Dodson may be a real Paula Jones for our time; trouble is A) no sex, nobody cares, and B) we have all grown bored with absurd Republican Party attacks on our Country.
    It is funny how some of this would seem to stem from old grudges about Waco that must still fester within the right wing, large foreheaded community. Years ago, in my one and only trip to the Sundance Festival, I saw the never to be seen again directors cut of "Rules Of Engagement". Loaded to the gills with bullshit as it was, the movie was respectfully reviewed (and utterly unchallenged) in all quarters, and was a favorite on the far left, anti-goverment fringe as well. Now N.Y. Times film critic Magnolia Dargus
    used her review to attack Clinton and blame him for Oklahoma City, in the Clinton hating "L.A. Weekly". Roger Ebert raved about the film.
    The survivor Clive Doyle, who is used to great effect in the film, later admitted the FBI didn't start the fires but refuses to say who did. He was recently on CNN on an anniversary of the disaster, but was not asked. The martyrdom of some really twisted people who burned their own children to death for the sake of a mildly charismatic fruit cake is a weird tale that still haunts our insane culture. k

  10. "Pseudo-liberals" is probably Bob's way of describing all the idiots he sees who claim to hate the dishonesty on Fox News but then applaud dishonesty on their own team. Most of the time that drives Bob crazy. I don't think he was calling himself a pseudo-liberal, just bitterly commenting on the hypocrisy of people on his own side.

    Yet another anonymous

  11. If for specious reasons(as described by the author herself) the US Attorneys stationed by Holder's Justice Department in Arizona and who report to the Justice Department would not prosecute known gunwalkers - doesn't that fact justify Issa's hearings instead of discrediting the hearings?

  12. Bob asks "Why the heck did Holder say that if Eban’s reporting is accurate? If there was no gun-walking in Fast and Furious, why did he say there was?"

    The answer is obvious, if you read Eban's piece carefully. About halfway through, he gets into a long aside, beginning with the paragraph "How is it possible to deduce that? Because Dodson then proceeded to walk guns intentionally, with Casa and Alt's help. On April 13, 2010, one month after Voth wrote his schism e-mail, Dodson opened a case into a suspected gun trafficker named Isaiah Fernandez. He had gotten Casa to approve the case when Voth was on leave. Dodson had directed a cooperating straw purchaser to give three guns to Fernandez and had taped their conversations without a prosecutor's approval."

    Voth was aghast at this, and in particular at the fact that Dodson did not interdict the guns after they were deliberatly sold to the straw purchaser.

    In other words, if Eban's account is true, Holder's statement is factually correct. He did not say that it was the policy of fast and furious to use it, simply that the tactic 'was used.' The irony is, Eban alleges that tactic was used as part of fast and furious, but by the very person who accused others of doing it! And, if Eban's account is true, Dodson is a truly execrable person.

  13. Another example of Somerby's turgid writing: it would be helpful to describe what "gun-walking" exactly is. Criticizing other journalists for failure to define what they are writing about while throwing out opaque posts is not attractive.

    1. This.

      The term "gun-walking," which I had never heard used until the Fast and Furious affair, is being thrown about by both sides liberally. Given that this alleged practice is the central issue, this term should be well defined and used consistently by both sides.

  14. It's the old "What did he know and when did he know it?"
    It seems clear the attacks on Obama and Holder are spurred on by the NRA in particular, and gun owners and 2nd Amendment supporters in general.
    And also by politicians that get a lot of campaign money from the above mentioned sources.

    Newspapers in Arizona originally treated the debacle of Fast And Furious as caused by a few local "cowboys" operating without top down approval.
    Of course the reports recognized that a cover-up could go all the way up to the White House.

    "Don't attribute malice to incompetence."

    For those that want a little more information, there's these articles:

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