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September 16, 2011


From The Daily Show last night: That Custom-Tailored Obama Scandal You Ordered Is Finally Here.

WaPo hasn't called Solyndra a "scandal", even though we now know that
-- it cost taxpayers over half a billion dollars
-- loan guarantees were made despite federal agencies' warnings that Solyndra was a bad risk
-- the loans went to a big Obama donor
-- Obama amd Biden personally touted the loans
-- the White House intervened in administrative reviews to get quick approval.
-- As the request of the Obama donor, the loans were arranged so that his losses would come only after government losses

Since WaPo doesn't see all this adding up to a "scandal", it's hard to imagine what else would have to be added to the story to make them use that word. So, I don't think Solyndra will ever meet Brendan's WaPo criterion.

WaPo has not used the word "scandal" to describe the New Black Panther intimidation case and related coverup or Gunrunner and that coverup. Solyndra looks likely to go the same route. IMHO this pattern tells us more about WaPo's political bias than about the Obama Administration's conduct.

Solyndra LLC's chief executive and chief financial officer will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and decline to answer any questions put to them at a Congressional hearing on Friday, according to letters from their attorneys obtained by Reuters.

Taking the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination would seem to imply that these two Solyndra executives feel they may have committed criminal acts. That would have been a scandal in the old days. When I was young, organized crime figures were the ones who used the 5th Amendment to avoid testifying before Congressional committees. At the very least, the Solyndra execs' refusal to testify amounts to a cover-up.

However, I'm not convinced that it's enough to create a "scandal" in today's liberal media. The Reuters article seems to imply that they were the ones to break the story. Why are the Brits leading the news gathering on an American story?

WaPo has this story on their web site, but in their Business section, rather than the News section. Will WaPo consider this front page news or worth an editorial? I wouldn't bet on it.

At the moment, the NY Times doesn't even have this story on their web site.

Any lawyer with a brain would advise clients in the same position as these guys to invoke their Fifth Amendment privilege. Congressmen and prosecutors are going to be looking for a scalp, and it's crazy to give them ammunition. (Forgive the mixed metaphor.) If the business were a going concern, there might be countervailing P.R. considerations, but that's not the case here.

That said, it's absolutely true that if the Bush Administration had funneled half a billion dollars to a favored company that went under and the executives of the company invoked their privilege, it would have been front page news at the Times and the Washington Post and a source of outrage among all the left-leaning pundits, and you can be sure that the stories and headlines would use the word "scandal" copiously.

I appreciate your thoughtful legal insight, Rob. Regarding the PR considerations, although Solyndra the company is gone, two individuals, Brian Harrison and W. G. Stover, will be taking the 5th Amendment. They will be looking for new positions to continue their careers.

If taking the 5th were considered scandalous, Messrs. Harrison and Stover might be deterred from that course. However, since their action will IMHO be a non-scandal, I don't think refusing to testify will interfere with their ability to get hired into new executive positions.

Washy Post has been covering up the "gunwalker" scandal for months - will they call it a scandal when they are active participants in the cover-up?

Here's another twist on the 5th Amendment decision. The law firms representing Brian Harrison and W. G. Stover are major contributors to Democrats and both have handsomely helped President Barack Obama’s political efforts. Makes one wonder whether their advice not to testify is for the benefit of Mr. Harrison and Mr. Stover or for the benefit of Mr. Obama.

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