January 16, 2003
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
Many BuzzFlash readers have followed our ongoing "re-education" efforts aimed at one Peter Bronson, a rabid right wing columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Bronson is clearly of that breed of Limbaugh-esque "media entertainers" who are dogs chained to their vomit of hate for all things Clinton. BuzzFlash took Bronson to task (See: http://www.buzzflash.com/analysis/03/01/13_Bronson.html) for, in 2003, once again returning to lambaste the Clintons for a Karl Rove/Ari Fleischer smear job on a "trashing" of the White House and Air Force One that was just another sleazy White House smear.
(BuzzFlash was the first online publication to expose the trumped up charges. We also exposed an Ari Fleischer lie that the government had to pay more than $2,000 for allegedly defaced keyboards, when we revealed that OfficeMax had donated the replacement keyboards and assumed they were used by the White House because they never received them back.)
In any case, Bronson wrote hundreds of BuzzFlash readers who e-mailed him in indignation to read one of the three reports on the alleged "trashing," which generally exonerated the Clinton and Gore staffs of any serious misbehavior beyond what is found in a normal White House transition. Bronson suggested our readers look over the GAO report (which was the third examination that was a wasteful use of taxpayer money, which the Republicans spend so carelessly.) Bob Barr didn't like that the first two reports essentially found nothing wrong in the transition, so he demanded that the GAO do another report to prove his accusations.
Here is a response from a BuzzFlash reader to Mr. Bronson about the last GAO report:
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You suggested to many of us who were offended by your articles that we read the GAO report for ourselves.
Well, I did. The whole thing. All 215 pages including the Appendices.
You take one so-called "tidbit" of information ( "The director of the Office of Administration (OA), who had been present during five previous transitions, said that he was `stunned' by what he saw during the 2001 transition and had not seen anything similar during previous ones") and proceed to present it as if it were the substantive portion of the report.
That sir, is what offends us so much. That's not a fact, that's an opinion. It is only one opinion quoted in the entire report. And it is not the conclusion of either the GAO or the GSA.
Let's look at some other tidbits from the report, shall we?
"However, a facilities employee who said that she was responsible for overseeing the custodial staff in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) during the 2001 transition and was involved in the cleanup effort in the EEOB during the 1993 transition said that she believed more trash was left in the building during the 1993 transition than the 2001 transition. She said that she found papers "all over the floor" and the remnants of a party during the 1993 transition." (Page 78)
"The director of GSA’s White House service center during the 2001 transition said that the condition of the office space during the 2001 transition was the same as what he observed during the 1989 transition. (He said that he observed little during the 2001 transition in terms of damage, vandalism, or pranks.) Similarly, a GSA employee who was one of the cleaning crew leaders during the 2001 transition and was the EEOB building manager when we interviewed him in July 2001, said that he had not seen any damage or pranks during any transition during his 31 years of working in the White House complex. He said there was an excessive amount of trash during the 2001 transition, but that was not unusual for a transition." (Page 78)
"Further, in a March 2, 2001, letter to Representative Barr on this matter, the acting administrator of GSA said, regarding the condition of the White House complex during the 2001 transition, that "[t]he condition of the real property was consistent with what we would expect to encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended occupancy with limited cyclical maintenance, such as painting and carpet replacement." (Real property includes the physical structure of the building and not items such as telephones, computers, and furniture.) (Page 78-79)
"NARA’s director of presidential materials said that she was in the White House complex during the 1993 and 2001 transitions and that she went into about 20 offices in the EEOB during the morning of January 20, 2001. She said that she saw a lot of trash in the EEOB during the 2001 transition, but that it was no more than what she observed during the 1993 transition. She said that she did not see any damage, vandalism, or pranks during the 1993 or 2001 transitions." (Page 79)
And of course, there's always the section of Appendix II entitled "Observations of Former Clinton Administration Staff Regarding the 1993 Transition":
"Regarding the 1993 transition, five former employees told us they observed furniture in hallways, piled up, or in places it did not appear to belong. One of those former employees also said there was no furniture in an office. One former employee (a different former employee for each of the following observations) said he or she observed each of the following: a person’s initials carved into the front of the middle drawer of her desk, words carved into two additional desks (a former employee said one of the carved words was an obscenity; the person who observed the other carving in a desk said it was the name of the vice president during the George H. W. Bush administration), and broken chairs. Seven former employees also said that computers were not operational or were missing hard drives at the beginning of the Clinton administration. Two of those employees said that it took 1 to 2 weeks for the computers to work. Two former employees said that telephones were piled on the floors or were disconnected. (One of those former employees said she was told that staff would receive new telephones.) Another former employee said that she saw telephone lines pulled out of walls and that they appeared to have been pulled out intentionally. One former employee who started working in the White House complex in January 1993 and left in January 2001 said that the offices were messier in January 1993 compared with January 2001." (Page 79-80)
And then finally, there's the section of the Appendix II entitled "News Report Regarding the Condition of White House Complex during Previous Transitions":
"We searched major newspapers and selected magazines for any news reports regarding the condition of the White House office space during the 1981, 1989, or 1993 presidential transitions and found only one such mention. The March 1981 issue of Washingtonian magazine indicated that incoming Reagan administration staff had some complaints about the condition of the EEOB that were similar to observations made by EOP staff in 2001. According to the article, a visitor described the EEOB as being "trashed," and indicated that memorandums taped to walls, lampshades torn by paper clips hung on them to hold messages, a refrigerator with thick mold, and a large coffee stain on a sofa outside the vice president’s office were found." (Page 80)
Perhaps describing the offices as "trashed" is only a phenomenon when a Republican administration follows a Democratic administration?
That is why so many of us are offended -- not because you are a critic of the Clinton Administration, but because you play fast and loose with the truth. But why should that surprise me? I've come to expect that from the Bush Administration and its supporters for the last three years.
Tell the truth, Mr. Bronson. Both the GSA and the GAO reports concluded that there was limited substance to most of the charges of the Bush Administration about the former Clinton staffers "trashing the White House". That's a nice way of saying that the Bush Administration basically made the story up. But you didn't see any reason to put that in your article, did you?
You know what I call it? Politics, as usual. And that's why most Americans hold politicians in such low esteem. Only one step above journalists.
You owe us an apology, not because you're a critic of the Clinton Administration, but because the 01-06-2003 article was bad journalism. And you also owe an apology to the rest of your readers, and to your employer, who will receive a copy of this e-mail.
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
otherwise noted, all original