White House lawyers have reportedly sent a letter to major US media outlets, including CNN and the New York Times, urging them to ramp up their scrutiny of Republican lawmakers as they seek to impeach President Joe Biden. The letter, which was acknowledged by CNN and other recipients, was written by Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office. Sams stated that it is time for the media to increase their scrutiny of House Republicans for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies. He added that these impeachment efforts should set off alarm bells for news organizations.
The impeachment effort was launched by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who directed committees of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to open a formal inquiry. McCarthy accused the Biden family of alleged influence-peddling and solicitation of bribes, stating that these actions paint a picture of a culture of corruption.
However, even before receiving any guidance from the White House, some US media outlets seemed to be protecting President Biden. For example, CNN and the Associated Press suggested that Republicans were trying to prosecute Biden without sufficient evidence to justify their investigation. These outlets apparently overlooked evidence such as the sworn testimony of IRS whistleblowers and the records of bank transfers that lawmakers have already revealed. By launching impeachment proceedings, congressional committees would gain more power to subpoena documents that could either prove or debunk the allegations.
Veteran US journalist Matthew Keys, who has worked for Reuters and Fox News, criticized the White House’s directive on impeachment coverage, stating that it is not okay for the White House to encourage or interfere with the editorial strategies of newsrooms. Keys also mentioned that the letter could backfire because Republicans can question whether the media’s scrutiny is genuine journalism or something encouraged by the Biden administration when they are held accountable.
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University, raised concerns about the letter, stating that it gives off the uncomfortable feeling of marching orders to the media. Turley argued that by trying to influence coverage of the impeachment inquiry, the administration eliminates any pretense of separation between Biden’s personal legal team and the White House Counsel’s Office.
Sams, who also serves as a senior adviser to Biden, countered the Republican’s claims, stating that they have failed to turn up any evidence of the president doing anything wrong during their nearly nine months of investigation. He emphasized that impeachment is a grave, rare, and historic process, and it is essential for the press to treat Republican claims with appropriate scrutiny. Sams attached a 14-page appendix to his memo with talking points to address Republican lies.
It is worth noting that the Democrats previously controlled the House and impeached former President Donald Trump twice. This context provides a backdrop to the current impeachment inquiry, highlighting the ongoing partisan divide within the US political landscape.