Washington Prowler

Who’s Afraid of Darrell Issa?

Media Matters' reliable lounge Lizza come through. Also: White House political reactions to Tucson.

By 1.18.11

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LOUNGE LIZZA
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Media Matters must be just blushing, based on the recent profile of House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa in the New Yorker by its Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza. After all, it appears Lizza took virtually the entire Media Matters opposition research file it had been pushing for months and published it under his own name.

Media Matters' "research" of its political opponents is largely financed by leftist George Soros, and Issa has been an ongoing target for the organization, in part, because it believes Issa and his committee may begin to examine the relationships between left-wing political groups like Media Matters, MoveOn.org, Free Press, and Public Knowledge, among others, and the Obama Administration and its political fundraisers.

"If you look at the timing of many of Media Matters' attacks with the agenda of the White House and the Obama Administration and the then-leadership of Nancy Pelosi, you see that there is coordination there," says an Oversight Committee staffer. "It's not surprising that the chairman is now Enemy No. 1 for the Obama shills in Washington."

Media Matters had been pushing attacks against Issa for months with little to no success. In fact, as months went by and Issa, then ranking Republican on the committee, upped his attacks on the unethical behavior inside the Obama Administration, and its attempts to do through the regulatory process what it could not achieve legislatively, Media Matters actually railed against its friends in the media for not picking up its Issa sliming efforts.

Now it appears Media Matters has found its best outlet for its dirty work, a sleepy little weekly magazine out of New York.

POLITICAL LOCK AND LOAD
For more than a week, the White House, several political appointees inside the Department of Justice, and former Obama campaign staffers associated with Organizing for America have been coordinating on how President Barack Obama's administration can capitalize on the Tucson shooting tragedy and the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

According to a White House source, conference calls on how to message and politicize the attack began late in the evening Washington time the day of the shooting. "Of course we weren't going to let this thing go," says a White House staffer. "Republicans are incapable of capitalizing on these kinds of events because the policy positions for many of them on things like guns tend to make them defensive. From the very beginning we sought to tie the nutjob in Tucson to the tea partiers."

Another White House aide, reading materials supplied by the Department of Justice, cautioned against building an anti-tea party and anti-Republican campaign around the shooter, Jared Loughner. "You looked over the materials, and it was clear he wasn't a tea party guy or even a Republican. I just didn't see the upside, especially if the follow up stories made clear he wasn't who we were pushing friends in the media to portray."

But that didn't stop friends of the White House from doing its bidding, including pressing reporters to use Loughner's middle name, Lee, in press accounts.

"Every famous assassin has a middle name and the fact that his was 'Lee' made it all the better," says a former Obama 2008 campaign media consultant. "It isn't like we had to work hard on this one."

Other Obama Administration attempts to pump up the Loughner story included spreading misinformation initially reported in several national media outlets that the troubled young man might be a zealous pro-life advocate or was angry at Democrats' blocking of Obamacare repeal.

Last week's "Together We Thrive" memorial service in Tucson, where the President's remarks were greeted with enthusiastic cheering and applause, mirroring the politically disastrous 2002 memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone, was seeded with attendees drawn from volunteers and friends of Arizona's Organizing for America operation, the former Obama grassroots organization that is now managed by the Democratic National Committee.

Now, the White House is attempting to devise a media plan should Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, fulfill his responsibilities as commander of April's Endeavour mission.

"This is the kind of opportunity every administration looks to take advantage of, not just us," says the White House staffer. "It's nothing different than what the Bush Administration tried to do with 9-11."

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