CBS: Eric Holder 'Ignoring Political Pressure;' Given 'Hero's Welcome' After Bush 'Cronyism'
In a puff piece on Attorney General Eric Holder on CBS's Sunday Morning, correspondent Rita Braver praised his professionalism: "...ignoring political pressure is Holder's constant message as he talks to Justice Department lawyers....Though he was a key advisor to the Obama campaign and considers the President a friend, Holder says he now keeps it purely professional." [Audio available here]
Throughout the interview, Braver portrayed Holder as lacking any political agenda: "And when he took office last February, he got a hero's welcome. It was in part, he believes, a reaction to cronyism and questionable policies advocated in the Bush-era Justice Department." As Braver mentioned Bush "cronyism," a photo of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on screen. Holder proclaimed: "Waterboarding, things like that, from my perspective, inconsistent with the great traditions of this department."
Braver began with some gentle criticism of Holder: "And with controversies over everything - from his pushing to quickly close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo to his very public condemnation of the new Arizona law that cracks down on undocumented immigrants - even some Holder fans are saying, 'he's honest, he's smart but sometimes he can be a little tone deaf about how things play out in public.'" That gave Holder the opportunity to declare: "I don't have the same latitude that other politicians might have to put my finger up to the wind and figure out what's going to be popular....So it's not tone deafness. It's a commitment to justice and a commitment to the law." Braver then touted Holder "ignoring political pressure."
Near the end of the segment, Braver noted how "Holder raised a lot of eyebrows with his own comments on race last year." After playing the clip of Holder calling America a "nation of cowards" on racial matters, Braver announced: "But he says he stands by those remarks." Holder argued: "I mean that comment was really urging people to get out of what I call their - the safety of their cocoons." Braver never questioned the offensive and unprofessional nature of the comment nor did she ever bring up the Justice Department's refusal to prosecute members of the Black Panthers for voter intimidation during the 2008 election.
Instead, she continued with a more sympathetic tone: "Because you're the first African-American attorney general, do you put any extra pressure on yourself?"
Braver concluded the interview by wondering: "And as for Eric Holder's legacy? Is there one thing that you kind of keep in mind about how you see this job all the time?" Holder replied: "It's what I tell the people in this department all the time. Do the right thing."
Here is a full transcript of Braver's interview with Holder, aired on September 12: