April 22, 2012

"Is the Department of Justice sanitizing its connection to Media Matters for America?"

"Needless to say, nobody’s talking over at DoJ... at least they’re tacitly admitting that getting caught at treating with MMfA too openly is a public relations disaster…"

Treating with?

Could the people inclined to inform us about this Fast & Furious episode please write more competently? I went to that link (at RedState) after reading this story at Breitbart where I couldn't find a quotable sentence. It seems like an important story. How about making it easy to share?

IN THE COMMENTS: mariner said:
"Treating with" is "making nice with" or "allying with".

I haven't seen that usage in a long time.
So "treat" in the sense used in "treaty"? I don't remember ever seeing that. But let me check the OED. The oldest meaning of "treat" as a verb is:
intr. To deal or carry on negotiations (with another) with a view to settling terms; to discuss terms of settlement; to bargain, negotiate.
I'm surprised at this usage, which I think I would have picked up if I'd seen it written in something from the 19th century or earlier....
1617 F. Moryson Itinerary i. 195, I‥. was forced to treat with unknowne Merchants for taking money upon exchange.
I would have understood that easily. I'm not sure that's the usage needed in the quote in the original post, since the point is that the DOJ and Media Matters were already in an alliance, and it was showing, not that they were negotiating in public.

57 comments:

AJ Lynch said...

Fast & Furious is one of the 5-6 key issues that will lead to Prez Obama's losing in November. The other are GSA, Secret Service, Billions Lost on Green Boondoggles, the Failure of the Stimulus, Continued Economic doldrums, and just plain old general incompetence.

I know Hoosier predicted this election will be fun but I see an early blowout and Obama slinks off with his Harvard tail between his legs.

Tully said...

Sure would be nice to have better pointers, but it seems to be covered slightly better HERE, in Ciaramella's original story as linked by Drudge.

EDH said...

"...treating with MMfA too openly is a public relations disaster…"

Treating with?


Being called out on "treating with" Media Matters is like treating with Vagiclean, the DOJ doesn't want to be too open about it.

Dante said...

I parse it this way:

at least they’re tacitly admitting that getting caught that treating MMfA too openly is a public relations disaster…"

I think the (something) in at treating MMfa with (something) was deleted, is all. Not sure what you are so upset about, I think treat here is the verb.

Dante said...

@EDH
Treating implies doing something for someone else in a unilateral way. That is, giving someone special favor, paying for their way. So I think they are treating MM with information others don't get, which bolsters MM.

Ann Althouse said...

" at least they’re tacitly admitting that getting caught at treating with MMfA too openly is a public relations disaster…"

I think "treating" was supposed to be "trading" and it's that very common mistake of typing a homophone, like the way it's so easy to write "to" for "too."

And amazingly, when writing that last sentence, I wrote "wright" for "write," noticed it, then trying to get it right, I wrote "right" for "write."

It's a very easy mistake to make. That's what proofreading is for.

rcommal said...

Perhaps "treating with" ought to be read in the older sense of "drag about," which would be amusing if the Fast and Furious scandal wasn't so appalling, and a true outrage. DOJ just keeps looking worse and worse, IMO.

David said...

I think "treating with" is quite descriptive.

It suggests forming a treaty, which is the creation of an alliance.

That sums it up well.

Pogo said...

It's the cover-up and the crime.

One of the 13 keys to the Presidency is the lack of scandal traced to the incumbent.

The Obama administration has had numerous scandals, Fast and Furious among them, that loses a key and might flip the election.

But if the media don't report it, is it still a scandal?

Phil 3:14 said...

Enlightenment will not come from a pissing match between RedState and MMfA .

Fast and Furious is an important story drowned out by the shouting match.

Bruce Hayden said...

I must be missing something. As far as I can tell, someone (C.J. Ciaramella) asked a spokeswoman at the DoJ (Katie Dixon) about the F&F scandal, and the response by Dixon was to check an article at Media Matters (a hard left, Soros funded, political advocacy organization that has close ties to the White House) and with the FBI. The criticism seems to not have been with the FBI side of the advise, but rather, to the DoJ representative advocating the Media Matters article as a response to the question by the reporter.

I will admit that the article could have been better written. But, still, the question remains - why is the DoJ using a (very liberal) political advocacy group to answer questions about its own operations? For one thing, it is a tacit admission that the DoJ response is more political than responsive.

Making this worse, is that AG Holder is essentially refusing to allow DoJ personnel to testify before Congress, and to supply more than maybe 10% of the Congressionally requested documents, on the apparent grounds that he has run out the clock far enough so far by stone walling, that it is now election year.

Ann Althouse said...

"I must be missing something."

I must be missing something. What is it you think you are missing? Seems like you summarized the dispute and my problem with the poor quality of the writing about the dispute. I don't understand what you think you're missing?

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'd always thought that "treat with" was a fairly commonplace phrasal verb, but after seeing it baffle so many in this fairly literate group I guess it's not as familiar as I thought.

Bruce Hayden said...

But if the media don't report it, is it still a scandal?

That really is the problem, isn't it?

I would suggest that by almost any rational metric, Fast and Furious should be the worst government scandal of our lifetimes. Far worse than Watergate, Iran-Contra, Plame, etc. Watergate was a two-bit burglary conducted by party operatives. No one died or was injured. The election was still going to be won decisively by Nixon, so no real harm was done their either. Iran-Contra turned out to be a separation of powers issue, and PlameGate turned out to have been totally manufactured by her and her husband to score political points.

In Fast and Furious, at least one American hero was killed, and 300+ Mexican civilians as a direct result of Holder DoJ actions. And, the Holder DoJ has stone walled since a couple of hours into Day 1, refusing to comply with Congressional subpoenas, etc., while promoting, transferring, and protecting the miscreants.

And, yet, you ask most people in this country what they know about Fast and Furious, and they only know of the movies with the high speed car chase scenes. Nothing about the scandal itself. Nothing, and even with Republicans, their eyes glaze over when you try to explain it to them, and their only response is that they can't believe that our government would do something like that, so it must be a fabrication. All because the traditional media refuse to report on the scandal, and when forced to, try to change the subject as best they can, to protect the Obama Administration at all costs.

For me, I don't know which is scarier, that our government would intentionally force the illegal sale and shipment several thousand weapons to one of the most violent drug cartels in Mexico, or that our supposed protectors in the media would see their duty to the public as that of protecting us from all news of the program and resulting scandal.

Bruce Hayden said...

Seems like you summarized the dispute and my problem with the poor quality of the writing about the dispute. I don't understand what you think you're missing?

Thanks. I apparently am not going crazy. Or, more so than normal.

Tim said...

"It seems like an important story. How about making it easy to share?"

Seems easy enough to me. I'm guessing Instapundit would write something like "They told me I voted for John McCain, the Department of Justice would be nothing more than an arm of the president's political party," with appropriate links.

edutcher said...

Several places, like Si Vis Pacem, are trying to cover it, but the story doesn't seem to be getting any traction.

Lane is a good writer, but RedState has always struck me more than a little as a Rightosphere Kos.

Some of the people there don't seem to be wrapped too tight.

Ann Althouse said...

I think "treating" was supposed to be "trading" and it's that very common mistake of typing a homophone, like the way it's so easy to write "to" for "too."

And amazingly, when writing that last sentence, I wrote "wright" for "write," noticed it, then trying to get it right, I wrote "right" for "write."

It's a very easy mistake to make. That's what proofreading is for.


Had the same experience. I've been wondering if Blogger's doing some kind of Microsoft "we know what you mean, so we'll change it for you" thing.

Nice to know I'm just getting old.

Tim said...

Paul Zrimsek said...

"I'd always thought that "treat with" was a fairly commonplace phrasal verb, but after seeing it baffle so many in this fairly literate group I guess it's not as familiar as I thought."

Don't be so niggardly with your assessment of the word's use.

rcommal said...

Re: Bruce Hayden @ 10:16

Exactly. That's a beautiful summary, and I agree.

Tim said...

"All because the traditional media refuse to report on the scandal, and when forced to, try to change the subject as best they can, to protect the Obama Administration at all costs."

This.

Dwarfing the mainstream media's failure to highlight Obama's imperceptible qualifications for the presidency is this ongoing coverup of this (allegedly) serious crime.

Nothing underscores the utter partisan corruption of the mainstream media like their willful inattention and disinterest in "Fast and Furious."

It is shameful; that of course, presume the media can actually be shamed.

This story shows they are not.

Rabel said...

"treating with MMFA" is a reference to "treating with the enemy"

Contrarian Catalogue said...

I think "controversy" is a better way of describing F&F than "scandal." "Scandal" presupposes the existence of deliberate wrongdoing when that hasn't actually been established in this case. It may have been an ill conceived and executed program, but I've yet to hear any evidence that would elevate it to the level of a outright scandal.

Kirk Parker said...

I'm with Paul Z; the part Althouse objects to seems perfectly clear to me.

And Contrarian--you not hearing any evidence is just the way they want it.

Contrarian Catalogue said...

And Contrarian--you not hearing any evidence is just the way they want it.

Conspiracy theory much, do you? Are "they" also the ones editing Wikipedia?

LoafingOaf said...

I see an early blowout and Obama slinks off

Then how come I keep seeing polls out of the key swing states that seem to give the early edge to Obama?

Palladian said...

"Then how come I keep seeing polls out of the key swing states that seem to give the early edge to Obama?"

Because everything looks distorted when seen through the event horizon of Sarah Palin's Pussy, PinchingLoaf.

mariner said...

"Treating with" is "making nice with" or "allying with".

I haven't seen that usage in a long time.

Carnifex said...

@contrarian

Are you Leslyn? Your writing and thinking styles are remarkably similar. I know a guy that insists the holocaust never happened... where's the proof? Millions dead Jews aren't enough for him to believe a crime occurred. Similar to your thinking, 3-600 dead Mexicans and 2-3 dead Americans... but where's the proof?

The stonewalling? Nah that's not proof. The out right lies by Holder about knowing about FF? Nope, that's not proof. The testimony of the ATF agents? nope. nothing to see here.

I dare say, you could walk in on
Obama, holding a bloody knife while standing over a stabbed baby, and you would argue, well we don't know the whole story. Maybe the baby was Damien, the Anti-christ. but there was no crime committed.

Your denial of reality is truly astounding.

bgates said...

I've yet to hear any evidence that would elevate it to the level of a outright scandal.

The Obama administration pressured American gun sellers and law enforcement to allow illegal sales of guns which the administration knew were going to ends up in the hands of Mexican drug gangs. Those guns have been used to murder at least one American law enforcement agent and hundreds of Mexicans.

Here's a good source of information.

Freder Frederson said...

I would suggest that by almost any rational metric, Fast and Furious should be the worst government scandal of our lifetimes.

Oh this is rich from someone who whole-heartedly supported a war based on, at best deliberate misreading of intelligence, or possibly outright lies. (And of course the so-called mainstream media facilitated the rush to war against Iraq.) A war that killed over 4000 Americans, wounded tens of thousands more and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Get a grip.

Freder Frederson said...

Here's a good source of information.

You complain about the bias of Media Matters and you link to that site?


All I can say is this is more than a case of the pot calling the kettle black. It is more akin to the pot calling the stainless steel fry pan black.

Contrarian Catalogue said...

bgates said...

The Obama administration pressured American gun sellers and law enforcement to allow illegal sales of guns


But the government conducts sting operations all the time. Again, the program may have been badly staged, but what about it actually raises it to the level of a "scandal?" That implies some degree of malfeasance.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Scandal" presupposes the existence of deliberate wrongdoing when that hasn't actually been established in this case. It may have been an ill conceived and executed program, but I've yet to hear any evidence that would elevate it to the level of a outright scandal.

If scienter (intent for those who haven't suffered through law school) is the requirement for it being a scandal, then you are forgetting one small matter - the cover up. The cover up started within hours of Brian Terry's murder by F&F guns, and continues to this day.

But, let me suggest that you may not have that much of a handle on the scandal (or "controversy") if you don't think that there was not plenty of scienter/intent up front. I would suggest that a single Obama/Holder political appointee would be sufficient. In this case, we have some of Holder's direct reports apparently having fairly good knowledge of the operation, and the AG himself having received multiple emails and memos on the subject, and then lying to Congress about when he first knew about it. And, that is charitable, going solely on when he was first publicly informed of the scandal, well after Terry's murder, and not before, when he was receiving those memos and emails and should be responsible for what his agencies and minions do under his watch.

The problem though is that the major investigative department in the U.S. government is the one that is in need of investigation. All those investigators who wear guns work for the DoJ. Scooter Libby got convicted by what he said to the FBI. But, in this case, the FBI is ordered to aid in the cover up.

And, normally, a department's inspector general (IG) is tasked to get to the bottom of this sort of thing. But, this time, the IG owes her career to the AG, from when he hired her when he was the USA for DC under Clinton, and the two worked closely together, jointly signing numerous court pleadings, etc. You would think that she would recuse herself, with a scandal reaching all the way to the guy whom she worked for in the past, but instead, the IG is being used as one of the excuses for the AG and his DoJ not to cooperate with Congress (along with apparently it being an election year - which has to be one of the most ridiculous, self serving, excuses I have ever heard).

Oh, did I forget to mention that so-convenient tie between what Obama, Holder, and Clinton were saying about guns and gun control right before Agent Terry was murdered by Fast and Furious guns?

In any case, it is hard to prove intent, etc. in high places when the department involved in the DoJ, and the AG actively stone walls any attempt by anyone, including both Houses of Congress, to investigate. Sure, there isn't a lot of evidence showing intent - about 10% of the documents requested, most of a year ago, have been supplied to Congress, and many of those were heavily redacted.

Nothing here. Keep walking along.

So, remind me again why PlameGate was a "scandal", and this is merely a "controversy". In the end, where do you think that more scienter/intent will be found among the political appointees in the government?

Bruce Hayden said...

But the government conducts sting operations all the time. Again, the program may have been badly staged, but what about it actually raises it to the level of a "scandal?" That implies some degree of malfeasance.

It transcends "badly staged" and moves into grossly negligent. Looking at the way that Zimmerman/Martin charges - this case appears to fall far more into the depraved heart/depraved mind category than George Zimmerman ever did. For the gross indifference to the lives of U.S. and Mexican citizens, someone should stand trial for all those deaths.

What we know (and distinguishing Fast and Furious from Wide Receiver under Bush), the operation was large scale (over 2,000 weapons from Arizona alone), with any attempt to follow the weapons strictly forbidden, and those orders strictly enforced, and the Mexican government was intentionally not informed. All over the repeated warnings from both the DoJ's own agents in the field and some of the gun dealers involved.

All of which would qualify as "depraved mind" extreme indifference for 2nd Degree Murder.

But, if Obama Administration political appointees getting daily briefings and watching the straw purchases on video is not sufficient "intent" for an actual scandal, then let's talk about the cover up that started within hours of Brian Terry's murder.

Lem said...

Treating with?

At least when you are "in bed with".. it can be said you are not "sleeping with the enemy".

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

I'm surprised that you're surprised at "treating with." I always thought that it was a terser synonym of "negotiating with," "having [business] relations with," &c., and I don't think it's at all uncommon.

Cf. Judge William Young sentencing Richard Reid, the "shoebomber," in 2003:

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature... And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice...

[my emphasis]

Have you really not seen this usage before?

wv: nledn AProd. Sounds nasty.

Quaestor said...

Paul Zrimsek wrote:
I'd always thought that "treat with" was a fairly commonplace phrasal verb, but after seeing it baffle so many in this fairly literate group I guess it's not as familiar as I thought.

Ditto. Moe Lane's Redstate article was clear and concise. I read getting caught at treating with as present progressive tense implying the consequent on-going alliance.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I should've added that I doubt that the DoJ is "treating with" Media Matters in the actual business (money-changing-hands) sense. But when a Federal department basically outsources its response to a journalist's inquiry to an openly partisan journalistic organization, something's askew. Bush the Second made an incredible number of blunders dealing with the media, but I don't think any of his departments ever responded to a journalist's query by saying, "Hey, check out this devastating article in this month's National Review."

Quaestor said...

Outstanding example, Michelle. Many thanks.

walter said...

I loved how the reporter took advantage of Obama standing next to Calderone at the recent presser and put him on the spot about F&F. I also love how they asked Calderone to justify Mexico's "voter suppression"/photo ID. Wait...

But really, forgetting to put a tracking device on the guns isn't a scandal. It's kinda like forgetting to dot an i or cross a t. It's a passive thing..like not addressing NBPs declared bounty/solicitation of kidnapping.

But the most salient reason to re-elect Obama is the same one he exhibited when he promised to make electricity costs skyrocket back in '08.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

By the way, the homophone thing seems to be a general "welcome to middle age" phenomenon. I catch myself typing homophones all the time now. Mind you, I do catch them, usually within a second of typing them, and never more than a few seconds after, but it bugs the hell out of me.

wv: icedbat tatru. "Icedbat"? srsly?

Paco Wové said...

"what about it actually raises it to the level of a "scandal?""

Hundreds of people dying? Apparent attempts to cover it all up? Just guesses.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

This puzzlement over a perfectly ordinary and long-stand English usage is illuminating. Everybody here is pretty smart. Some have exalted standing in the professions and academia, so the issue may be larger than just the vices or virtues of style in the writings of a conservative blogger.

Perhaps we need to read more of the great writers, and not in the atmosphere of the modern English Department. Just forget deconstruction and semiotics and concentrate on the styles that are clear and concise. And don't just read the novelists and playwrights, read the great historians -- Gibbons, Macaulay and Carlyle particularly. You may not agree with their conclusions, but it is abundantly clear what they meant, and therein lies a beauty I do not see expressed by today's writers.

The written style of modern American English is just appalling. I'm not talking about urban jive appearing in print or texting. In every age the language of the street is loathsome to the ear and obscure when written. But writers should always write as if they address posterity. The real culprits are academic writers and journalists. If you doubt me just read a selection of papers given at any MLA conference over the last thirty years. Clear as mud and about as delectable as calves liver ice cream. Or any article published in Artforum since its inception. Incomprehensible mind rot.

BTW, Michelle, don't think the problem with homophones is just a middle age thing. The almost universal use of your when the intent is clearly you're has got some grammarians so resigned to the decline of rigor that they're (there's another one!) inclined to see it as just a variant of the contraction.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Quaestor,

There are any number of recent instances of "treat with"; that's just the one I remembered. Google "treat with murderers," for example, and you get a lot of duplicates, sure, but also at least a dozen different ones rather later than the early 17th c., including several from the past decade. The Oregon Public Broadcasting one is the only one that looks like a plain mistake; everyone else seems to use the phrase exactly as I understand it.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Quaestor,

The written style of modern American English is just appalling. I'm not talking about urban jive appearing in print or texting. In every age the language of the street is loathsome to the ear and obscure when written. But writers should always write as if they address posterity. The real culprits are academic writers and journalists. If you doubt me just read a selection of papers given at any MLA conference over the last thirty years.

No don't. I exhort you, as you value your sanity, don't. You might never recover.

Clear as mud and about as delectable as calves liver ice cream. Or any article published in Artforum since its inception. Incomprehensible mind rot.

Nobody, and I really mean nobody, reads Artforum for the articles :-)

BTW, Michelle, don't think the problem with homophones is just a middle age thing. The almost universal use of your when the intent is clearly you're has got some grammarians so resigned to the decline of rigor that they're (there's another one!) inclined to see it as just a variant of the contraction.

No. I see what you're [!] saying, but I find myself mistyping homophones in a way that I didn't do in my 20s and 30s. As I said, I catch them quickly, but I wonder whether I always will.

The problem of your/you're and their/there/they're and (especially) its/it's might overlap with that one, but it's a hell of a lot larger. When you go onto a distinguished lawblog (not this one only, but VC and a host of others) and it seems like a third of the commenters do not know "its" from "it's" ... yikes. Do you folks never read books?

Tim said...

"Oh this is rich from someone who whole-heartedly supported a war based on, at best deliberate misreading of intelligence, or possibly outright lies. (And of course the so-called mainstream media facilitated the rush to war against Iraq.) A war that killed over 4000 Americans, wounded tens of thousands more and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis."

Stop lying.

German Intelligence, among many others, believed the information it had gathered independently indicated Iraq was an imminent threat.

The war in Iraq was hardly "criminal." Was it scandalous that our intelligence was so bad, yes.

But there is no evidence of any cover up for that, at all.

Jay said...

Freder Frederson said...

Oh this is rich from someone who whole-heartedly supported a war based on, at best deliberate misreading of intelligence, or possibly outright lies


Hilarious.

It was the official policy of the US government that Saddam Hussein had WMD's prior to Bush ever being a candidate for President.

There were no "lies" and your attempt to change the subject is pathetic.

And of course the so-called mainstream media facilitated the rush to war against Iraq.)

Saddam Hussein first violated the cease fire of the Gulf War resolution in 1993.

America was enforcing a "no fly zone" for years prior to invading Iraq.

America was attacked in September 2001 and had boots on the ground for OIF in March 2003.

Some "rush to war" it sure was, idiot.

Jay said...

Contrarian Catalogue said...


But the government conducts sting operations all the time. Again, the program may have been badly staged, but what about it actually raises it to the level of a "scandal?" That implies some degree of malfeasance.


Um, Fast & Furious was not a "sting operation"

Why don't you just instead say that you are ignorant of the facts and don't want to know the facts since you'll happily vote for Obama in November, ok?

Kirk Parker said...

"The war in Iraq was hardly 'criminal.' Was it scandalous that our intelligence was so bad, yes."

Well, and despite the subsequent troubles, you can't seriously argue that Sadaam and crew didn't get what they marvelously deserved.

bgates said...

You complain about the bias of Media Matters and you link to that site?

Yes. The difference is that that site is a decent source of information, while Media Matters is as worthless as your comments.

But the government conducts sting operations all the time.

One of the things that distinguishes conducting a sting operation from simply promoting criminal activity is an attempt to apprehend criminals.

walter said...

Looks to have become a stung operation.

But hey..leave Media Matters alone. I know someone on tenure track at a large Uni Communications Dept. in Illinois that while being a rabid Dem quoting MM and MSNBC repeatedly, is paid to study..wait for it...media bias.

walter said...

Oh..and as a former econ major, she once told me taxes are the source of all wealth. No joke.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Quaestor,

Googling "treat with tyrants" is also instructive.

I honestly don't understand how people who seem exceedingly familiar with the English language, in that they can parse it closely and write it with gusto, just don't seem to have read all that much.

Almost everything I know about grammar I got from reading. Probably 95% of my vocabulary I got from reading. It's true that I didn't get anything directly from Macaulay and Carlyle, because I've not yet read either; but I got quite a lot from Chesterton, who read both. (And had heated words for both, at that.)

Also, a taste for "golden age" mystery novelists (Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham) does absolute wonders for one's vocabulary and grammar. Throw in Edmund Crispin and you might broaden all sorts of other horizons as well. (In Holy Disorders, for example, you can find out how to commit an ingenious murder with a musical instrument, and quite a bit about the Black Mass. And also read a chapter parodying Poe's Raven that's a positive masterpiece. Pity the book's out of print.)

rcommal said...

I stand by what I wrote at 9:43 on the morning of this post. : )

Robert Cook said...

The public at large knows little or nothing (and cares less than nothing) about "Fast & Furious," being more concerned, understandably, with the wretched economy and lack of good jobs in the country. If Obama loses to Romney, it will be over "the economy, stupid," and nothing to do with "F & F."

Oh, and our invasion of and war on Iraq was certainly illegal, a war crime based on lies.

Rusty said...

But the government conducts sting operations all the time. Again, the program may have been badly staged, but what about it actually raises it to the level of a "scandal?" That implies some degree of malfeasance.


Covering up a murder.