This past weekend, I, like many conservative bloggers, weighed in on Clark Hoyt’s Sunday New York Times column about his paper’s sloth in reporting several stories which right-leaning websites had broken. As Hoyt acknowledged the Old Gray Lady’s errors, you’d think the paper, in addition to appointing what James Taranto has termed, “Secret Agent Editors” to monitor the rightosphere, might show that it means business by working double time to crack open even further stories that first appeared on the web.
They might want to investigate the claim by the new chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Rocco Landesman that “former NEA Director of Communications [Yosi Sergant was acting] unilaterally* and without the approval or authorization of then-Acting Chairman Patrice Walker Powell” when he initiated a conference call urging artists (recipients of his agency’s grants) to help push Obamacare.
As far as the NEA was concerned, Yosi may well have been acting unilaterally. But, others in the Administration knew of his actions; another Obama appointee was in on the call, Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. If this White House official was in on a call with one federal agency and its supposedly non-partisan grant recipients, then it stands to reason she (or one of her colleagues) may have participated in other such investigations.
Why isn’t the Times delving further to see if this was an isolated occurrence or standard practice at the Obama White House? Maybe there were other such calls–but this was the only one that happened to be recorded.
Are journalists from news outlets like the Times trying to make up for their failure to get these stories by digging deeper, perhaps trying to gain access to White House phone records–or even to probe Ms. Wicks herself to ask her why she participated on this call? Who put her up to this? Did other people in the White House know, say her boss, Valerie Jarrett or the President’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel?
Well, it doesn’t seem that Times is all that interested in Ms. Wicks. Using the paper’s own search engine, I found no documents for “Buffy Wicks.” A google site search yielded only two references, one to a Facebook-like TimesPeople page (which allows individuals to “share the best of NYTimes.com with friends”), the other to a pre-inaugural story on the President’s proposed National Day of Service which she would be overseeing.
I bet the Times would have dispatched an entire team of reporters to investigate if they had they learned an official in the Bush White House had participated in a conversation similar to the one Ms. Wicks was in on. If the Times as committed to reporting the news as Clark Hoyt contends, they’d be investigating Buffy Wicks. And not just her, her White House colleagues and Capitol Hill counterparts involved in activities which would have earned them scrutiny if there were an (R) instead of a (D) after their names.