Should President Obama Fire Eric Holder?

Olivier Douliery/UPPA/Zuma

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Michael Tomasky wants Eric Holder’s head on a platter:

Did I, as a liberal columnist who called immediately on President Obama to seek Eric Holder’s resignation over the Associated Press scandal, provide aid and comfort to the enemy? First of all, I don’t care—what happened struck me as a serious abuse of power….And second, no, I don’t think I provided them aid and comfort anyway. In fact I think recent history shows beyond a doubt that foot-dragging and avoidance are the true aid-and-comforters; they always, always, always make these things worse.

…Obama may want to keep Holder because he thinks he’s a fine attorney general, and if that’s the case, well, then I guess it’s the case. But if he thinks this scandal is bad and Holder’s response is lame, he should cut him loose, and the sooner the better. I dispute in the strongest possible terms the mentality that says, “But that would just be giving the GOP a scalp.” No. It would be showing the American people, most of whom don’t think in terms of scalps, that some things cross your own moral line. It invests you with character.

A couple of things leap immediately to mind. First, I suspect that Obama heartily approves of what the Justice Department did in the AP leak investigation. It’s probably a fantasy to believe that either Holder or DOJ were off the reservation here. Second, I suspect that the American public doesn’t view this as a scandal in the first place, so firing Holder wouldn’t do Obama any good. The public’s view of the press is pretty dim—television news in particular ranks right up there with banks and HMOs—and I’ll bet a sizable majority actively approves of reining in those elitist media bellyachers who are constantly hiding behind the skirts of the First Amendment as they carelessly compromise national security by publishing leaks of terrorist investigations.

Needless to say, this isn’t my view. But the media is in a huge lather about the AP case because it affects the media, and I have a feeling that we journalist types are vastly overestimating how strongly the public is on our side over this. Sometime soon I imagine we’ll get a few polls with a few different question wordings that will give us some idea of where we stand. Just don’t be surprised if it turns out the public doesn’t think as highly of us as we ourselves do.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate