A little shot and chaser action this morning for you.
President Trump caused a bit of a kerfuffle this week in the media because he dared to suggest that John Kerry, who violated every aspect of the Logan Act with his interactions with Iran, should be prosecuted for his crimes. As I pointed out in my previous piece, I personally think the Logan Act is garbage and would be found unconstitutional if pursued, but that didn’t stop the Obama administration from using it as a pretext to target Michael Flynn. It also didn’t stop the media from suggesting 47 Republicans Senators should be prosecuted under it for their opposition to the Iran deal.
So what’s changed?
Here’s CNN back in 2015.
Forty-seven Senate Republicans may have broken the law this week. But no one’s losing any sleep over it.
Pundits and legal scholars are raising questions over whether Sen. Tom Cotton and the 46 Senate Republicans violated the Logan Act when they penned a letter to Iran’s leaders on Monday, undercutting President Barack Obama’s efforts to negotiate a nuclear agreement with those same leaders. The law, passed in 1799, forbids any U.S. citizen — acting without official U.S. authority — from influencing “disputes or controversies” involving the U.S. and a foreign government.
Now, to be fair, CNN was at least living in reality enough that they admitted no prosecution was likely. Those were simpler times. But they spun the whole thing as “of course Tom Cotton and others are guilty, but they’ll get off on the technical faults of the law.”
We saw similar pieces from The Washington Post, Politico, and The Guardian, among many others. The thing to notice here is that the media started and instigated the conversation about Republicans breaking the Logan Act, even as most of the article belatedly admitted it wouldn’t stand up to constitutional scrutiny.
Here’s The New York Times letting us know why Trump should “fear” the Logan Act and that he certainly broke it.
That leads us to this week, where the media all the sudden decided not only is the Logan Act not worth talking about, it’s crazy sauce to even suggest that John Kerry be prosecuted under it. Instead of doing speculative pieces entertaining the idea as they’ve done about Republicans for years, they immediately started to push out the “fact-checks” to provide direct rebuttals.
This example via CNN.
Since the act’s creation, correspondence and interaction between Americans — lawmakers, former lawmakers, and citizens alike — has become increasingly common.
It’s also common for former secretaries of states and diplomats to stay in touch with their counterparts around the world.
Last year, before the administration decided to pull out of the deal, the Boston Globe reported that Kerry was taking part in meetings with big players in Iran, meetings which were promptly criticized by the Trump administration. However, last October, Kerry told reporters that he had not met with Iranians since the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and had seen Iran’s foreign minister at a few international security meetings.
Trump alleged that Kerry “is talking to Iran and has been. He’s had many meetings and phone calls and he’s telling him what to do.”
But Matt Summers, a spokesman for Kerry, said in a statement that Trump’s claim “is simply wrong, end of story.”
Why would you quote John Kerry’s spokesman in a fact-check? The author goes on to let us know that because John Kerry said so, he certainly didn’t actually violate the Logan Act, even though she quotes him as admitting to meeting with the Iranians before Trump pulled out of the Iran deal.
The Washington Post’s resident Democratic mouthpiece also made the same case, using John Kerry’s spokesman as evidence in his fact-check. He then goes on to spin the whole thing as misconduct by Trump for suggesting such a prosecution.
Look, the point here isn’t to say that John Kerry actually should be convicted under the Logan Act. Perhaps we should make him a test case though? Regardless, the overall point here is the vastly different media reactions. When it’s Republicans, we get lots of op-eds and hard news pieces full of “well, maybe they did break the law” speculation. When the target is John Kerry we get nothing written at all until President Trump brings it up, then we get “fact-checks” exonerating Kerry and chastising the President for even suggesting it. This despite the fact that the media have suggested use of the very same law multiple times to target Republicans.
It’s absurd. Can we all just come to an agreement that we aren’t going to bring up this ridiculous law anymore for political reasons? The problem is that the mainstream media would never play by consistent rules even if they existed. The next time they can, the Logan Act will undoubtedly be in vogue to suggest again as long as a Republican is in the crosshairs. Mark it down.