Today's Blogs

Abramoff Turns

The Jack Abramoff plea agreement has produced much analysis and speculation. Bloggers are also discussing the accusation, by journalist Franklin Foer, that liberal bloggers have undermined the credibility of the printed press at great political cost; as well as the decision of Carole Keeton Strayhorn to run for governor of Texas as an independent rather than as a Republican.

Abramoff turns:Embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion in Washington today, signaling his willingness to cooperate in investigations of former associates for political corruption.

“There’s no mention of any members of Congress beside Rep. Ney (R-OH), against whom two others have already agreed to testify,” reports liberal muckraker Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo. “Nor is there any mention of executive branch officials. … The question lingering in the background here, of course, is whether political officials at the DOJ have leaned on prosecutors to limit the scope of the investigation for political reasons. For the moment, given all I’ve seen to date and heard, I’m not inclined to believe that that is happening.” (Sister site TPM Café hosts a copy of the agreement.)

New Republic Senior Editor Michael Crowley was at the courthouse. “Abramoff himself looked haggard—paler and heavier than when I interviewed him last April. That look of ultra-contrition he’s mastered—the furrowed brow, the I’ve-been-a-bad-boy frown—was on full display,” he reports. “Although Abramoff’s plea doesn’t contain any bombshells—no mention or even allusion to Tom DeLay, for instance—he’s not finished talking.”

Mother and attorney ReddHedd of firedoglake believes that Republican politicians including Sen. Conrad Burns and Rep. John Doolittle could be in trouble, as could Tom DeLay’s wife and some of his aides. The Nation’s David Corn guesses the investigation will net three congressmen; radio host Hugh Hewitt suggests even Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid may be in trouble.

The time has come for conservatives to join the chorus denouncing Abramoff and his ilk, writes Patrick Hynes at rightist syndicate Ankle Biting Pundits. “First, liberals are right in this instance. The fact that this hideous wretch climbed to the heights of power under GOP leadership in Washington, shoot, with the aid and comfort of the GOP leadership, is a scandal in and of itself,” he says. “Second, the Abramoff story is not over. Not by a damn sight. If you think this is just a story about a greedy lobbyist who abused his relationship with congressional leaders you better think again.”

Read more about Jack Abramoff.

Blogs and the press: Liberal bloggers have blundered in attacking the credibility of the mainstream press, writes journalist Franklin Foer at New Republicbrain trust The Plank. “For decades, conservatives have been trying to shred these institutions,” he says. “Now, the left-wing bloggers have made common cause with the media’s conservative critics.” Foer cites the unwillingness among liberals to defend the Times from recent attacks by the administration on the paper’s role in the NSA domestic spy story. “This is a dangerous case that could seriously threaten the ability of reporters to do their jobs. And liberals should be apoplectic about the threat it represents.”

“What Foer seems to have difficulty understanding is that the important role the Press SHOULD play in our society is not to say that they are doing their job,” argues leading contributor Armando at liberal clubhouse Daily Kos. “To hear Foer tell it, you’re for a free press filling its role in our society or agin it. And if you are for it, you can never speak an unkind word against the Media. Sound familiar?” Echoes abound. For progressive standby Atrios, there remains a distinction of purpose between attacks on the press by conservatives and those by liberals. “The Left wants to the press to do a better job, the Right wants to undercut their credibility,” he contends.

Oliver Willis, of watchdog Media Matters, suggests that, for a liberal, biting one’s tongue would amount to an abandonment of principles. “The left wants journalism. We’ll applaud it when it’s done and call it out when we see RNC press releases on page one of the Times,” he states simply. At conservative Real Clear Politics, Tom Bevan says that the DoJ investigation doesn’t threaten thepress but administration sources, and that the Times made its own bed with its role in the Plame investigation.

At Hullabaloo, Digby wonders why the relationship between bloggers and journalists is so contentious. “The daily papers, news broadcasts and news weeklies are indispensible. But more and more, people are recognizing mainstream journalism’s vulnerability to conventional wisdom, establishment pressure and partisan spin. … Blogs fill in some of the gaps,” he writes. “I’m a little surprised that so many reporters are fighting them so hard instead of doing the smart thing, which is co-opt them.”

Read more about the debate.

Gubernatorial circus: Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas comptroller and mother of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, announced yesterday that she would run for governor as an independent, rather than a Republican. The move allows Strayhorn to avoid what had promised to be an ugly primary battle with Gov. Rick Perry, and join singer and comedian Kinky Friedman as prominent independents in the wide-open race.

At Washington Monthly’s Political Animal, guest Steve Benen says the campaign is becoming “one of the more entertaining gubernatorial contests of the year. … Will Strayhorn peel off Perry’s Republican support? Will Friedman be taken seriously enough as a candidate to compete? Will White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan … help his mother’s campaign? This one’s going to be fun to watch,” he says.

Progressive Bull Moose, a supporter of Kinky Friedman, cheers the move. “The Moose’s fondest hope is that more elephants and donkeys abandon their parties and ‘think like Sam.’ While Strayhorn is Kinky’s competitor, her defection may prompt more and more Texas voters to think outside the box and visualize an independent Governor,” he writes.

Read more about the Strayhorn announcement.