October 24, 2011
Vice President Joe Biden’s office has asked the U.S. Senate Press Gallery to investigate conservative journalist Jason Mattera’s tactics during a recent interview, a process that could result in his press credentials being revoked, The Daily Caller has learned.
Mattera, the editor of Human Events and a widely known video ambush interviewer, caught Biden by surprise after asking if he would pose together for a joint picture. While embracing the vice president for the photo, Mattera asked Biden if he “regret[s] using a rape reference to describe Republican opposition to the president’s bill.”
After pausing for a moment during which he appears shocked, Biden attempted to defend his comments.
“I didn’t use — no, no, no,” Biden told Mattera amid a crowd of onlookers on Capitol Hill. “What I said — let’s get it straight, guy, don’t screw around with me. Let’s get it straight.”
“I said rape was up three times in Flint, [Mich.],” Biden continued. “There are the numbers. Go look at the numbers. Murder’s up, rape is up and burglary’s up. That’s exactly what I said.”
Biden, it turns out, was incorrect. The Washington Post’s fact-checker blog gave him “four Pinocchios,” the worst possible rating it can give to politicians for incorrect statements. FactCheck.org also debunked Biden’s assertions. Those fact checkers used statistics different from the ones Biden was provided.
Biden apparently got his statistics from the City of Flint, and the city stands by its statistics according to Public Safety Director Chief Alvern Lock. In an October 20 statement, Lock said there are discrepancies between different law enforcement agencies’ statistics and crime definitions — something that he said should account for the inconsistencies. “The discrepancies with the FBI and other sources reveal the differences in how crimes can be counted and categorized, based on different criteria,” Lock said.
Even so, Mattera caught Biden playing politics with sketchy numbers. And now the Vice President’s staff is looking for a fight with Mattera instead of correcting the widespread misunderstandings Biden created.
Mattera told The Daily Caller that team Biden’s attempt to discredit him this week is just an effort to distract from how the Vice President’s incorrect. “They’re suggesting that my credentials get yanked and I be investigated for asking a completely legitimate question,” Mattera said in a phone interview. “The administration is just whining and complaining like little toddlers because they’ve gotten their wrists slapped now on multiple occasions for making the suggestion that Republicans are enabling rape and violent crimes because they won’t pass another stimulus package.”
“This is a thug administration in action,” Mattera added. “This is the Chicago way and they can bring it on. Bring it on. I’m a credentialed member of the media and I have a little something-something called the First Amendment on my side.”
According to The Hill newspaper, Biden aides are asking whether any Senate rules were broken during the exchange. The chairwoman of the Gallery’s standing committee of correspondents, a group of five journalists who oversee press accreditation on Capitol Hill, told the newspaper that the group is considering the issue and that it is under review.
“We’re aware of the concerns,” standing committee chairwoman Heather Rothman said, according to The Hill. “It’s being discussed. We’re aware this occurred and the vice president’s office [has made] contact.”
Rothman hasn’t returned TheDC’s requests for more details or information. Biden wouldn’t comment on the record. The Senate Press Gallery wouldn’t comment for The Hill’s story and hasn’t returned TheDC’s requests for comment.
Because none of those parties are answering any questions, it’s unclear what specific rules Biden’s office is alleging Mattera broke. Mattera said these allegations are nothing more than a deflection tactic.
“The Obama administration got caught in a major lie,” he said. “They’re now being called out on it and they’re going after the journalist who got the ball rolling. This is another attempt to destroy their opponents, instead of correcting their facts in their previous statements.”
Proving that Mattera’s “tactics” while interviewing Biden were unethical will be difficult. Mattera never misrepresented himself, was wearing his press credential badge the entire time, and told Biden’s staffers who he was and where he worked.
Mattera adds that it’s not abnormal for journalists to pose for photos with politicians, and that asking a tough question that would normally go unanswered is par for the course.
“Journalists have always used creative ways to get politicians to answer honestly,” Mattera said. “and that’s what I do. I look for ways to get politicians to give me candid answers. I don’t want the spin, I don’t them to go and consult with their messaging team and have the talking points – I get the gut reaction. And, here, Biden’s gut reaction was undignified for the Vice President of the United States.”
As of Tuesday morning, Mattera said no one from the Senate Press Gallery has contacted him about Biden’s allegations. He predicted that the agency will promptly dismiss the accusations against him.
“I’m not worried,” Mattera said. “They’re not going to give this any type of legitimacy.”