Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson on Saturday posted 2011 email correspondence between attorney general Eric Holder and communications adviser Matthew Miller on how to best manipulate press coverage of the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal.
(President Obama withheld the email under executive privilege but it was recently released as a result of a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the Justice Department).
In response to Miller’s decision to leave the Justice Department that same year, Holder said in a statement that he was ‘greatly saddened” by the decision and that he “will miss his judgment, humor and spirit.”
“He has been one of my most trusted and tireless advisers, a person to whom I could go with the most difficult of issues and always receive wise counsel. Matt has played a critical role in helping reshape the Department over the last two and a half years.”
Here are excerpts from Miller’s advice to Holder:
1. Send a letter to the Hill explaining what happened. Put in context the amount of information you get every week, say that you don’t recall reading those bullets or being aware of Fast and Furious at any time before early this year, but in any event, you certainly weren’t aware of the gun walking aspect of it until the news broke earlier this year (at which point you took immediate steps to have the IG investigate, etc.).
This needs to happen tomorrow. In fact, it should’ve happened today. The last time your credibility was directly questioned was whether you had disclosed all of your amicus briefs — the story started to break on a Thursday night, and we made people stay up all night compiling information so we could get a response out by 1 pm or so on Friday.
2. Find a way for you to get in front of a reporter or two about this. You don’t want to call a press conference on this because it will blow things out perspective, but if you have any events in the next few days (preferably tomorrow), you could find a way to take two or three questions on it afterwards.
Or if that’s not easily doable, you could find a way to “run into” a couple of reporters on your way to something. Maybe Pete Williams, Carrie, Pete Yost — that part can be managed. Most important is that you’re in front of a camera in a relaxed manner giving a response you have rehearsed.
It would be ideal if those two things happened in the same day so you didn’t have two news cycles of responding — you want to do it all at once.
There may be things you need to do to go on offense as well, but I think most important right now is that you answer the charge about covering this up. Then you can move to offense.
Earlier this month, additional recently-released internal email shows Holder’s contempt for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:
“Issa and his idiot cronies never gave a damn about this when all that was happening was that thousands of Mexicans were being killed with guns from our country. All they want to do — in reality — is cripple ATF and suck up to the gun lobby. Politics at its worst.”
It’s interesting that during a scandal on gun-running gone bad, Holder’s mind would leap to the implications of gun control. Then again, when don’t people in the Obama administration think about politics, rather than the lives of innocent civilians and border patrol agents like Brian Terry?
Judging by the discussion between Holder and Miller about how to best manipulate the media, the outgoing attorney general’s assertion that “Issa and his idiot cronies” were simply playing politics is ironic to say the least. But getting a close-up view of how Holder & Co. stage-manage the media for mass consumption is revealing, indeed.