Welcome to the Jim Jordan and James Comer Look the Other Way Committees, Brought to You By Access Journalism

In an article published 112 days before the November election, Politico included this sentence about all the investigations Republicans planned to conduct if they won the House.

Republicans on the [Oversight] committee plan to hold high-profile probes into Hunter Biden’s dealings with overseas clients, but they also want to hone in on eliminating wasteful government spending in an effort to align the panel with the GOP’s broader agenda.

Politico’s Jordain Carney did not note the irony of planning, almost four months before the election, an investigation into foreign efforts to gain influence by paying the then Vice President’s son years ago, next to a claim to want to eliminate wasteful spending. He just described it as if yet another investigation into Hunter Biden, even as DOJ continued its own investigation, wasn’t an obvious waste of government resources.

Politico’s Olivia Beavers didn’t point that out either in a 1,400-word profile in August on James Comer entitled, “Meet the GOP’s future king of Biden investigations,” the kind of sycophantic profile designed to ensure future access, known as a “beat sweetener.” (Beaver is currently described as a Breaking News Reporter; this profile was posted 3 days after the search of Mar-a-Lago.) She did acknowledge that these investigations were, “directing the party’s pent-up frustration and aggression toward Democrats after years in the minority,” not any desire to make government work or eliminate wasteful spending. But she nevertheless allowed Comer and his colleagues to claim that an investigation into Joe Biden’s son could be credible — that it would somehow be more credible than the bullshit we expect from Marjorie Taylor Greene.

He’s long been known on both sides of the aisle as a sharp and affable colleague, and has the tendency to lean in with a hushed voice, almost conspiratorially, only to crack a well-timed joke that’s often at his own expense. Beyond that personal appeal, though, Comer emphasized it’s his priority to ensure the oversight panel’s work remains “credible.”

That’s a tricky path to tread, given his party’s investigative priorities are still subject to the whims of former President Donald Trump as well as an increasingly zealous conservative base and media apparatus. But Comer’s particularly well-suited to the task, according to more than two dozen House Republicans interviewed. And if he manages to do it right, it could provide a launching pad to higher office — Comer is not discounting a future bid for Senate or Kentucky governor, though that likely wouldn’t occur until after his four remaining years leading the panel.

“I’m not going to be chasing some of these right-wing blogs and some of their conspiracy theories,” Comer told POLITICO in an hour-long interview conducted in a rented RV trailer that his campaign had parked at the picnic. “We’ll look into anything, but we’re not going to declare a probe or an investigation unless we have proof.”

[snip]

And though Comer has said Hunter Biden would likely get subpoenaed in the event of a declined invitation to the committee next year, he doesn’t want to appear trigger-happy with issuing subpoenas, either.

“This isn’t a dog-and-pony show. This isn’t a committee where everybody’s gonna scream and be outraged and try to make the witnesses look like fools,” he said, before nodding at House Democrats’ past probes of the Trump campaign and Russian election interference. “Unlike Adam Schiff, we’re gonna have something concrete, substantive on Hunter Biden or I’m not going to talk about Hunter Biden.”

Beavers didn’t mention the platitudes she included in her August article when she reported, yesterday, on the press conference Comer and Jim Jordan have scheduled for today, less than 24 hours after the 218th House seat for Republicans was called, to talk about the investigation into Hunter Biden.

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) discussed plans to investigate politicization in federal law enforcement and Hunter Biden’s business affairs.

“We are going to make it very clear that this is now an investigation of President Biden,” Comer said, referring to a planned Republican press conference Thursday about the president and his son’s business dealings.

Beavers has let Comer forget the claim, which she printed as good faith in August, that Comer was “not going to declare a probe or an investigation unless we have proof.”

Olivia. Comer lied to you in August. As a journalist, you might want to call that out.

There is no functioning democracy in which the opposition party’s first act after winning a majority should be investigating the private citizen son of the President for actions taken three to six years earlier, particularly not as a four year criminal investigation into Hunter Biden — still overseen by a Trump appointee — continues.

There is no sane argument for doing so. Sure, foreign countries paid Hunter lots of money as a means to access his father. But according to an October leak from FBI agents pressuring to charge the President’s son (one that Comer pitched on Fox News), which claimed there was enough evidence to charge Hunter Biden for tax and weapons charges but which made no mention of foreign influence peddling charges, that foreign influence peddling apparently doesn’t amount to a crime. Nothing foreign countries did with Hunter Biden is different from what Turkey did with Mike Flynn, Ukraine did with Paul Manafort, Israel did with George Papadopoulos, and multiple countries did with Elliot Broidy. Jim Jordan and James Comer not only had no problem with that foreign influence peddling, they attacked the FBI for investigating them.

If James Comer and Jim Jordan really cared about foreign influence peddling, they would care that, since leaving the White House, the Trump family has entered into more than $3.6 billion of deals with Saudi Arabia ($2 billion to Jared’s investment fund, a $1.6 billion real estate development in Oman announced the day before Trump’s re-election bid, and a golf deal of still-undisclosed value; Judd Legum has a good post summarizing what we know about this relationship). Given that the Oversight panel under Carolyn Maloney already launched an investigation into Jared’s fund — like Hunter Biden’s funding, notable because of the obvious inexperience of the recipient — Comer could treat himself and American taxpayers with respect by more generally investigating the adequacy of protection against foreign influence, made more acute in the wake of the opinion in the Steve Wynn case that guts DOJ’s ability to enforce FARA.

With today’s press conference, you will see a bunch of journalists like Olivia Beavers treating this as a serious pursuit rather than pointing out all the hypocrisy and waste it entails as well as the lies they credulously printed during the election about it. You will see Beavers rewarding politicians for squandering government resources to do this, rather than calling them out for the hypocrisy of their actions.

Maybe, if Comer becomes Governor of Kentucky, Beavers will have the inside track on access to him. I guess then it will have been worth it for her.

This Hunter Biden obsession has been allowed to continue already for three years not just because it has been Fox’s non-stop programming choice to distract from more important matters, but because journalists who consider themselves straight journalists, not Fox propagandists, choose not to call out the rank hypocrisy and waste of it all.

For any self-respecting journalist, the story going forward should be about how stupid and hypocritical all this is, what a waste of government resources.

We’re about to find out how few self-respecting journalists there are in DC.

Update: NBC journalist Scott Wong’s piece on the GOP plans for investigations was similarly supine. The funniest part of it is that it treated a 1,000 page “report,” consisting almost entirely of letters Jordan sent, as if it were substantive. I unpacked the details NBC could have disclosed to readers here.

Meanwhile, this Carl Hulse piece doesn’t disclose to readers that Marjory Taylor Greene’s investigation into the jail conditions of January 6 defendants, besides being an attempt to protect potential co-conspirators, also is falsely premised on claims that the January 6 defendants are treated worse (and not better) than other defendants as well as false claims that many of the pre-trial detainees are misdemeanants.

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56 replies
  1. Bay State Librul says:

    Yep.
    The sign of Spring 2023 will not be the robins or flower buds, but a “War Room” filled with wall-to-wall 4th Estater’s
    They will be investigating the investigators.
    We need to swat these flies.

  2. Leu2500 says:

    Politico, even b4 its current owner, has long been known for taking dictation from Republicans. It may not be Fox, but it is part of the Republican ecosphere.

    • Klaatu Something says:

      Yes. Back when Politico still permitted comments on their articles, my most frequent comment was “Your Conservative Masters are again pleased.”

  3. Jenny says:

    Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse.
    – Jim Jordan (FOX News 4 years ago)

    My background [is] wrestling. We always say, ‘Never be overconfident, just be confident’ — so we can’t be overconfident. We’ve got to do the work.
    – Jim Jordan (FOX News 9 months ago )

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Normal people spent this week waiting hours for a slight chance to buy Taylor Swift tickets. The DC trade press wanted front-row tickets to see Jim Jordan scream at Hunter Biden for 10 hours, and they put in all the work ahead of time. They see it entirely in terms of entertainment value.

    • J R in WV says:

      I just wanted to see this again:

      “Jim Jordan is a squid.

      Tim Gill (Univ Tennessee) pinned Jordan in 27 seconds.”

      Twenty-seven seconds !!

      Not even competent as a wrestling coach at OSU… also unable to protect his team members from predatory behavior by other faculty!! Now in congress, still incompetent…

  5. Clare Kelly says:

    Thank you for this.

    After shaking my head this morning over a Politico piece, I decided to revisit Margaret Sullivan’s August and October columns:

    “Journalists simply can’t allow themselves to be megaphones or stenographers. They have to be dedicated truth-tellers, using clear language, plenty of context and thoughtful framing to get that truth across.“

    Margaret Sullivan
    8/21/22

    If Trump Runs Again, Do Not Cover Him the Same Way: A Journalist’s Manifesto

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2022/10/12/margaret-sullivan-how-media-should-cover-trump-next-campaign/

    I don’t have high hopes your advice will be headed either, yet the message bears repeating.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Thank you, Clare Kelly, for relinking Margaret Sullivan’s excellent cautionary piece. Three days into his current campaign, Trump’s MSM coverage seems to be looking for its own new consensus. So far: “low-energy,” “loser,” ha ha ha.

      What troubles me most is how much they seem to look to GOP insiders and each other for cues, as Dr. Wheeler describes above. Maybe Twitter’s impending demise will diminish this mutual-reinforcement dependency, maybe not. It’s up to editors to empower reporters to step back and evaluate the factual context of a story, and as of now legacy-media editors are doing the opposite.

      • Clare Kelly says:

        “It’s up to editors to empower reporters to step back and evaluate the factual context of a story, and as of now legacy-media editors are doing the opposite.”

        Verdad.

        All the more disappointing that the WaPo seems to be leading (or lede -ing?) the charge.

  6. Just Some Guy says:

    “Maybe, if Comer becomes Governor of Kentucky, Beavers will have the inside track on access to him. I guess then it will have been worth it for her.”

    Comer is not likely to run again for Governor, imho. The “frontrunners” (LOL) for the GOP nomination next year are Daniel Cameron (Attorney General of not-indicting-the-cops-who-killed-Breonna-Taylor infamy; Trump has already endorsed him), Kelly Craft (super-wealthy coal baron wife and former Trump “ambassador” that didn’t show up to work), and Ryan Quarles (Agriculture Commissioner who successfully beat Governor Beshear’s COVID executive orders in court thanks to Cameron and Joe Bilby who just lost his run for Franklin County circuit judge).

    One of the most odious things the Republican super-duper-majority in the Kentucky General Assembly did in the session at the beginning of this year is gerrymander Frankfort where Comer lives, the capital, into the 1st Congressional District so he never has to spend time in Western Kentucky again. As many people have pointed out, that means to drive the entire district from the far Western reaches of the state to Frankfort would take several hours.

    PS. Comer is also reportedly a domestic violence abuser (alleged from his college days) so yeah, Kentucky couldn’t have a worse Representative unless their name was Thomas Massie!

  7. Krisy Gosney says:

    Thank you for and what I’m sure will be many more call outs and articles about the upcoming R House Reps and the press that will repeat their lies and bs unquestionably. I think you do make a difference in challenging others to do actual news and reporting.
    I wonder if McCathy’s new position came with the hitch that he had to secretly share it with Rep Greene? And I wonder how many defections to Independent-caucusing with Dem-retirement announcements there will be because of it? I wonder too if Mitch McConnell will help facilitate some of these moves (to stop the R House Reps sole focus on a Trump candidacy).

  8. Rugger_9 says:

    IIRC, one of the most effective takedowns of Joe McCarthy was Edward R. Murrow playing a superclip of Sen McCarthy’s statements without comment that showed the fundamental contradictions between versions. Unfortunately, between the media ownership, bothsiderism and access journalism ethics the reporters will not even do this much.

    As for Hunter Biden’s (alleged) iniquities the press needs to also push Jordan, et al on Ivanka’s and Jared’s machinations (like the patents and 2B$ investment), the Old Post Office, and the Saudis apparently funnelling many B$ into Individual-1’s enterprises. Or document management, but sadly the courtier press knows that such action on their part means access would be withdrawn and Habs (et al) can’t face that.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Rugger, Hunter Biden has admitted to many iniquities himself, which to Trump and his ilk makes a person “weak.” The problem with the “laptop” is that much of it involves sex ‘n’ drugs. This makes it boring and exceedingly depressing for me, but titillating as all hell for those who crave telling others how to live for the simple reason that they have no lives themselves.

    • John Lehman says:

      This line might fit somewhere in the “Hee-Haw” parody…

      “…if they could not swim in cesspools, they could not swim at all…”

  9. Katherine Williams says:

    For 30+ years Hillary Clinton was the favorite target of abuse by the GOP. And yet she still beat Trump in the popular vote for president. Looks like they may be trading her in for Hunter Biden. Since republican ideology seems based upon fear and hatred, they have dozens of groups and individuals to hate, but they always like to separate out a few individuals for special venom: Hunter, Fauci, Pelosi and of course Hillary. And the corporate press is delighted to join in the stalking game.

    • Raven Eye says:

      Or maybe it’s just alphabetical in the 2023 update of their playbook. Biden comes after Benghazi, but before Clinton.

  10. BobBobCon says:

    What’s so dumb about the journalists who do this is how little they get in return.

    Maggie Haberman spent years doing PR for the Trump White House, but every time a huge scandal loomed such as Covid bungling in late 2019/early 2020 or 1/6 coup plotting, she couldn’t file a single scoop before it was too late. At best she gets mediocre leaks for the purpose of damage control, but the readership bump is trivial compared to what she might have generated if she’d broken what was right in front of her.

    I can guarantee that every reporter channeling propaganda for the GOP will be completely shut out of anything important when it matters. They’re such weak bargainers.

      • BobBobCon says:

        What’s also fascinating about the typical book deal is how boring the books are.

        As Joe Klein’s adoring review in the Times admits, Haberman’s book had no big scoops about Trump, but despite what he claimed, also had no big insights into Trump’s personality. 100,000 Americans died because of his rottenness over Covid, and her only addition is that he wanted (but didn’t even go through with) a Superman shirt to wear during his recovery.

        She spent years in service and in the end had nothing more interesting than a bunch of clippings from Page Six. Her book is headed to dollar book store remainder tables by the pallet soon.

        • nedu says:

          Reading the number you allocated to Trump’s “rottenness”, what did the other 90% of ’em die from–Trump’s carelessness? (From JHU:)

          May 17, 2022

          The United States officially surpassed one million reported COVID-19 deaths today…

          They were careless people, Tom and Daisy… They pushed drinking bleach, and eating horse-paste.

          • BobBobCon says:

            Oh, Fox News, DeSantis, the rest of the GOP, other right wing outlets, Zuckerberg…. there are a lot of people who had a big role to play.

            I think it’s impossible, of course, to assign a rigidly accurate cost assessment for Covid, but 100K to Trump seems like a good start.

            Haberman was embedded in the White House in late 2019 and early 2020 when the White House was desperately trying to cover up its incompetence, and jump start a campaign of public health obstruction. Haberman could have punctured the PR at a critical point. Instead she enabled it. Just an astonishing abdication of responsibility.

            • Nick Caraway says:

              The data would seem to be in place to make a more complete estimate of the cost of covid attributable to Donald Trump.

              Neil Seaghal, professor of public health at the University of Maryland, and colleagues, studied excess mortality in Republican counties. During the pandemic through October 2021, Republican counties experienced 72.9 more deaths per 100,000 people than did Democratic counties. In addition to the differences in vaccine uptake, the researchers blamed risky behaviors such as unmasked social events and in-person dining. Disparities narrowed slightly when the data set was expanded to include deaths recoreded through February 2022.

              https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/people-in-republican-counties-have-higher-death-rates-than-those-in-democratic-counties/

            • Mart7890 says:

              Not to mention Woodward sitting on the Covid tapes. Was surprised at how well Trump understood Covid transmission and severity at its onset. Not saving it for his book could have saved lives, blunted some of the nonsense.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          ” … how boring the books are.”

          I wish I could sue Joe Klein over that review. I’m two-thirds through Haberman’s book and it is a royal slog. Donald Trump is among the most boring men who ever lived, but given the title Confidence Man, Haberman had the option of focusing on those whom he suckered. She didn’t. Do yourself a favor and read Mary Trump instead.

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        As a long-time DC resident, I’m here to tell you the much more apt slogan for WaPo is “Democracy dies in dumbness.”

  11. Ken Gilliland says:

    ““…This isn’t a committee where everybody’s gonna scream and be outraged and try to make the witnesses look like fools,” he (Comer) said…”

    Isn’t this pretty much a description of Jim Jordan’s past behavior on committees?

    I cringe at most supposed “straight journalism” on either end. Edward R. Murrow said it best… “I don’t think [that] there are two equal sides to every story” and “Our major obligation (as reporters) is not to mistake slogans for solutions”

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Speaking of looking the other way, it seems possible Alan Futerfas had his reputed annual Tom Hagen chat with Allen Weisselberg again. Poor Allen is insisting that he alone victimized the Trump family by accepting for years illegally-structured compensation that only Donald Trump could have authorized. And even though the poor beknighted Trump family continued to pay him long after realizing it. As if that were the only financial shenanigan the Trump Org engaged in ever. Michael Cohen might call that hush money.

    https://twitter.com/Jose_Pagliery/status/1593297028469202945

  13. Tom-1812 says:

    Perhaps I’m being naïve or overly optimistic, but the Biden investigation mania the Republicans are displaying would appear to have the potential to backfire in spectacular fashion. The GOP is behaving as if they actually won that 40 to 50 seat majority in the House they were hoping for, as if American voters didn’t send them the message that they’re heartily sick and tired of all the MAGA Republicans’ fear-mongering and bizarre conspiracy fantasies.

    I don’t see how Jim Jordan can take the spotlight this way without rekindling questions about his time as assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. And how can you talk about one President’s son’s addiction problems without highlighting another (former) President’s son’s off-the-wall online ravings? Given the millions of Americans who have been affected in one way or another by the opioid crisis, I think it’s entirely possible that Hunter Biden could emerge from Jordan’s cheap, thuggish, bully-boy interrogations as a sympathetic figure, one that many Americans could easily identify with. The same could prove true for the public’s opinion of Joe Biden, who could be admired as a loving father carrying the burden of a son struggling with addiction as well as the weight of the Presidency.

    Again, maybe I’m being unrealistic, but I don’t see how the GOP can put Hunter Biden and his father on the rack for their alleged transgressions—“the Biden crime family”—without arousing in voters’ minds the still fresh memories of how nefariously Trump and his kith and kin behaved in office only a few short years ago. Americans will quickly smoke out the Republicans’ blatant hypocrisy. What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.

    • Tom Marney says:

      In not-crazy world, that’s exactly what would happen. Hopefully, we’ll find that the real world is not nearly as crazy as the crazies are counting on.

    • bmaz says:

      Unless you are Hunter Biden. Ironic this is going to be a focus of House GOP after a term of the Trump children. And I am being kind here.

    • Bears7485 says:

      Who at this point doesn’t have a first or at least second-hand experience with people whose lives have been turned upside down due to substance abuse, especially opiates?

      The dearth of empathy among those who call themselves conservative xtians grows more apparent every single day.

  14. ExRacerX says:

    Despite all the influence-peddling surrounding tfg, his family & cronies, we’re hearing a whole lot about the Rs investigating Hunter Biden.

    Meanwhile, we get minimal coverage of Weisselberg’s implicating Trump and his (adult) “boys” in the tax fraud scheme. What the actual fuck, journos?!?

    • RationalAgent says:

      Allen Weisselberg, unfortunately, is not implicating any of the trump crime family in his tax fraud schemes. On the contrary, he is (deliberately and falsely) exculpating them. I hope the judge makes an example of Weisselberg, and sentences him to 20 years in prison.

      Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You have commented here as RationalAgent, RationalAgent19, and Region Manager Antifa. Pick a name and stick with it as sockpuppeting is not acceptable here. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  15. David F. Snyder says:

    First, there was Hollywood Access reporting. Now there’s DC Access. And the quality of the reports has lessened. Muckrakers masquerading as media mavens. Keep exposing them for what they are.

    • P J Evans says:

      Muckrakers are what we want (they find and report about muck; they don’t spread it around). These guys are just gossip columnists.

  16. wa_rick says:

    Nine Benghazi investigations and Durham’s asinine investigations tells us that conserving tax payer money is not what today’s Republicans are about.

Comments are closed.