Explain This, Mr Carlson


Dish readers do what they do best:

I shared the same concern regarding the disclosure of IRS Commissioner Shulman’s visits to the White House.  But they were quickly assuaged when I looked at the actual data, which can be downloaded here.  Your reader on your updated post seems absolutely correct – looks like many (if not most) of those visits were about health care. I engaged in a cursory review of the first 20 or so Shulman entries, and virtually all were with individuals involved with the health care reform proposal.  In particular, the contact for most of the initial meetings was Nancy-Ann Deparle, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, who was at the center of shaping health care reform.  One entry specifically notes that it was for the “bi-weekly health reform deputies meeting.”

I did not review all the entries, and it is conceivable that there are others that raise suspicions.  But the log make one thing very clear: “visiting the White House” does not mean a meeting with the president.  Typically, it means (and apparently did in Shulman’s case) meetings with policy wonks and other staff.  Given Shulman participation in such policy meetings, it is hardly surprising that he was there frequently, or that a lower-level official might be present at the White House far more often than a cabinet secretary.

Finally, let’s remember our source here.  Today, the Daily Caller had an article on the nomination of James Comey to head the FBI.  The article describes Comey’s role in a highly successful Virginia law enforcement program targeting gun violence through higher penalties, that was supported by the NRA.  The headline regarding this former No. 2 at the Bush Justice Department?  “Comey, anti-gun Chicago-trained enforcer, reportedly tapped to run the FBI”.

This is who is now taken seriously in this debate.

I am sorry to give this crap any air. But it’s worth putting it out there if only to expose even further the toxic bullshit that Tucker Carlson now peddles under the guise of journalism.  Another reader:

I just downloaded the logs for Shulman’s visits, most of the visits are with Nancy DeParle (40) or Sarah Fenn (54), both of whom were deeply involved in health care policy.  The only other person to have more than 10 visits was Jason Furman from the CEA (11).  If the White House was hatching a conspiracy, it seems hard to believe these would be the people doing it.

Another explains the above map:

One basic fact that has not been reported clearly is that when people say they visited the “White House” they are often talking about any one of the three buildings in what is referred to as the “EOP” Executive Office of the President complex. This includes the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (formerly the Old Executive Office Building or OEOB), Treasury and the White House (WH), among others.

If you look at the White House visitor log data in the “meeting_loc” column, you can see where in the EOP visitors were headed. There are listings for WH, NEOB (the New Executive Office building), and OEOB (the old executive office building).  I’ve only looked at the file for 2009-2010, but you’ll see that only 3 out of Shulman’s 25 visits were to the WH, all the others were to OEOB, and 17 of those 22 visits list Nancy Deparle as the person he was visiting.  If this pattern holds through 2010-2012, the significant majority of his visits were to the office building next to the White House.

Claims that Shulman was an IRS chief “uniquely at home in the White House” – as the Daily Caller puts it – are meant to conjure up images of Obama, senior staff and Shulman in the Oval Office plotting Nixonian dirty tricks against enemies.  But the data points to a more mundane reality.  When senior staff with offices in the OEOB wanted to talk with the IRS Commissioner about the ACA, he was expected to come to them.

Another resourceful reader:

Visit the visit log at whitehouse.gov and do a search for Julius Genachowski (chairman of the FCC, a non-cabinet level post fairly equivalent to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, as both are presidential appointments for essentially independent agencies created by acts of Congress). Genachowski has been in his position about the same length of time as Shulman. According the records, he’s been logged as visiting 142 times. So someone who serves in a similar position to Shulman’s, for a similar length of time, has been signed into the White House roughly the same number of times.

Every other name on the Daily Caller’s list (with the exception of Thomas Perez, who has been Asst. USAG for Civil Rights since 2009) is either of a current or past member of the Cabinet (who, as even the Caller points out, are highly unlikely to have every visit registered), many of whom served only relatively brief tenures (at least compared to Shulman). Joe Biden himself has only been signed in seven times … and I imagine he’s been in the White House more often than Shulman and Genachowski combined.

In other words, this chart is straight up apples-to-oranges. Apples-to-apples (Shulman-to-Genachowski) is a more apt comparison, and one that indicates that the President doesn’t really owe you (or anyone else) an explanation. Yet another great big nothing-burger from the Right Wing Scandal Mill.