Make no mistake about it, the media has already decided that President Trump is guilty. They don’t know what he’s guilty of yet, and frankly, they don’t even care. Earlier this week, April Ryan, a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “With all of this turmoil, particularly last week, has the president at any time thought about stepping down before or now?” Sanders called the question ridiculous, but Ryan insisted, “It’s not a ridiculous question.”
Of course it was ridiculous. The media has been salivating over any damaging story that will embarrass Trump or somehow result in impeachment. But, where were the wolves in the media during the Obama presidency? Clearly, they were hibernating. During Obama’s presidency, whenever he was caught up in scandal they made excuses or chose not to cover the story. They never asked if Obama would resign as a result.
There are plenty of examples of scandals that, if the same standard applied to Obama as it does for Trump, the media would have asked if Obama would consider resigning. Here are five examples of times where the media should have asked the same question about Obama that April Ryan asked about Trump.
5. After He Was Implicated in the BlagoGate Scandal
After Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, his seat in the United States Senate had to be filled by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. But, Blagojevich didn’t just want to give it away, he wanted something for it. At the time, Blagojevich was politically unpopular and running out of money. He was also the target of a federal corruption probe, and being wiretapped by the FBI. He was recorded saying “A Senate seat is a f—ing valuable thing. You don’t just give it away for nothing.” Negotiations soon began for Blagojevich to appoint an Obama-approved candidate to fill his seat. Obama even provided a list of suitable candidates. The governor wanted a position in Obama’s cabinet in exchange for nominating someone to Obama’s liking, or he’d appoint himself. When the scandal broke, Obama denied having any contact with the governor about his Senate seat, and his transition team conducted an internal investigation, which obviously cleared him of violating any laws. However, the criminal complaint and sworn testimony during Blagojevich’s trial contradicted Obama’s statements. Did the media call him out, or ask if he would resign because of the scandal? Nope. As far as they were concerned, the Obama transition team’s internal investigation was good enough for them.
4. After Firing an Inspector General to Protect a Friend and Donor
When Gerald Walpin, the inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), exposed former NBA star and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson for misusing federal grant money, Walpin ought to have been celebrated. Johnson gave nearly a million dollars in AmeriCorps grant money to his own nonprofit organization, and used that money to pay volunteers for political activity and pay hush money to underage female students who had accused Johnson of sexual assault. But Walpin wasn’t celebrated, he was fired… by Barack Obama. The firing violated federal law, as Walpin was entitled to 30 days’ notice, and Congress must receive in writing an explanation for the termination, according to the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008—a law Obama co-sponsored as a U.S. senator. Following the firing, there was a smear campaign against Walpin and a cover-up. Where was the media when Obama was violating federal law to protect a friend and donor who misused federal funds and was accused of sexually abusing underage girls? They never asked if Obama would resign due to the scandal because they never covered it.
3. After Bribing Joe Sestak to Not Run for the U.S. Senate
Barack Obama violated at least four federal laws back in 2010, but you didn’t hear the media squawk about it — or ask if Obama would resign when Congressman Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) revealed that he had been offered a job in the Obama administration in exchange for not challenging Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Specter had recently switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party, and that switch was contingent on support from Obama. Obama’s then-spokesman Robert Gibbs wouldn’t confirm or deny that any offer was made, but was never asked if Obama would resign after Sestak made his bombshell allegation, even after months of the Obama White House stonewalling a congressional investigation. Nor did they ask after the Obama White House finally admitted that Sestak was indeed offered a federal job to stay out of the election—after Sestak defeated Specter in the primary. The media was quick to accept the White House version of events, including the “everybody does it” excuse, and they accepted the White House claim that nothing improper happened. Even Republicans lost interest in pursuing the story after Sestak was defeated in the general election by Republican Pat Toomey.
2. After 47 Inspectors General Accused His Administration of Stonewalling Investigations
Inspectors general are independent watchdogs who investigate their respective departments for corruption and to ensure compliance with the law. There are seventy-three inspector generals and they are appointed by the presidents of the United States. In August 2014, forty-seven of those inspectors general wrote a letter to Congress accusing the Obama administration of systemic obstruction of justice and abuse of power. You know, exactly what Richard Nixon would have faced impeachment for had he not resigned. This letter was unprecedented in our nation’s history and speaks to the culture of corruption in Obama’s administration. Many of the stonewalled investigations had drastic political implications for Obama, and Republicans and Democrats were united in their outrage. But the press was absent when it came to calling Obama out for systemic obstruction and corruption in his administration. With all of this turmoil, where was the media wondering if Obama would resign?
1. After Obama Was Exposed for Communicating with Hillary Clinton on Her Private Server
If you thought Hillary Clinton’s email scandal was just a Hillary scandal, you are wrong. Hillary’s extensive efforts to skirt transparency laws was very much an Obama scandal as well. The law is quite clear about the mishandling of classified information, and there’s no doubt that Hillary sent and received classified information through her unsecure private email server. But, we also know that Barack Obama communicated with Hillary through her private email server… using a pseudonymous email account. Does anyone really believe that the president of the United States and his secretary of state never discussed classified information this way? Of course the Obama administration refused to disclose those emails and it’s an easy guess as to why. So, with a potential smoking gun that not only Hillary Clinton but Barack Obama were “grossly negligent” with classified information, the media should have been all over this, and based on their behavior with Trump, should have asked whether he would resign.
We’ll never be able to have an honest conversation about corruption in government if our leaders aren’t held to the same standards, regardless of party. The same people who ignored Obama’s many scandals (and still make excuses for them) have no moral authority to criticize Trump about any alleged corruption.
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book, The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis.