Talking Points Memo Gives Cover to Failed Extreme Biden Nominee Omarova

  • TPM blames Republicans for bringing up relevant issues related to Biden nominee to regulate banks
  • Author Kovensky falsely calls it a ‘smear’ and ‘McCarthyism’ when Soviet-born, Soviet-trained, nominee’s written history includes statements like desiring the end of all banking
  • Article completely avoids the substantive issues that sank Biden nominee, that ultimately caused 5 Democrat Senators to oppose nominee

OUR RATING: #FakeNews. This is what you’d expect on CNN playing to an empty airport.

Indicted Outlet: Josh Kovensky | Talking Points Memo | Link | Archive | 12/14/21

We recently dinged Matt Stieb at New York Magazine for claiming there was a ‘smear’ campaign against Saule Omarova [1] for Comptroller of the Currency, a key regulator for all national banks.

The Stieb/NY Magazine article completely short-shrifted any substantive discussion about the opposition to Omarova. This article, from Josh Kovensky at Talking Points Memo, is a lot longer and completely short-shrifts any substantive discussion about the opposition to Omarova.

He does go into more details about the supposed ‘smear campaign’ however, and some of those items are worth considering in this fact-check.

Major Violations:

  • Missing Context
  • Misrepresentation
  • Assuming Bad Faith
  • Ignoring the Central Issue

Perhaps the most serious mental disconnect in all of this is the assumption that an allegedly Wall Street-led coalition used Republican Senators to make a few jokes about Omarova and ask a few questions, that ultimately scared five liberal Senators to stop supporting her.

First you have to believe there was an orchestrated conspiracy behind the scenes. Most political lobbying is merely emails and letters that staff and elected officials throw straight in the trash.

Here’s Kovensky parroting this conspiracy theory in the article:

The failed conformation reflects the lengths to which what Omarova regards as a mixture of Republicans and the banking lobby were willing to go to prevent an independent regulator from taking control.

Second, you have to believe this conspiracy then hatched their evil plans to have Senator John Kennedy make a few clumsy jokes at Omarova’s expense, and ask her if she ever resigned from the Komsomol [2] while a child in the Soviet Union.

The Komsomol was the Communist Party’s youth wing. It was the predecessor to participation in the Communist Party. By her own admission, Omarova was both a member of the Komsomol and the Communist Party. She defended her record in the Communist Party by saying that it was politically the only way to get ahead, to get promoted, to get noticed, and to go to prestigious Moscow State University where she was in the political science department.

This is her record, and it is a bit odd to have someone who was clearly raised in, participated in, and on some level personally embraced an economic theory completely at odds with banking to become its chief regulator. If the reverse were true, if someone was being appointed to be the head of State Finances in a Communist-run economic and political system, and they had been raised in capitalism and in the West, and had been a fervent anarcho-capitalist in their youth, it would be a little strange to see their promotion under an opposite economic system.

Talking Points Memo treats this all as some flavor of McCarthyism, which it’s clearly not. There were very real and legitimate concerns about Omarova’s past that deserved a fair hearing and deserved a fair answer.

Third, you have to believe that on the basis of those jokes, that question from Kennedy, that it got into the heads of five liberal Democrat Senators to the point where they could no longer support their own political party’s nominee. [3]

Here’s Kovensky making that exact point:

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) had earned gasps [4]— and reams of coverage — after demanding to know whether Omarova, who emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1991, had resigned from the Komsomol, a Soviet youth organization.

Yet ultimately, the smear campaign worked. In the wake of the flare up of McCarthyism, Republicans, and also key Democrats, said they could not support her.

Fourth, you have to believe that all the substantive arguments against her were just right-wing claptrap and not even worth considering.

In our related fact-check to this incident, where we fact-checked New York Magazine’s Matt Steib, the core issue was this same complete deflection from any substantive policy differences or concerns. [5] TPM is engaged in the same kind of malpractice here, where they are ignoring the central issue.

Here’s one bizarre part of this interview: when TPM asked Omarova about why she joined the Communist Party, here was her answer:

“And she raised me, telling me: you have to use a shield — don’t give them a chance to get you.”

So you pretended to have political beliefs you don’t actually hold in order to advance within a political system? You were fine living a life of lies in order to get rewarded with money, prestige and titles you say?

The militant defense of flawed extreme-left candidates is clearly considered a past-time in the media. This is the same crowd that considers as a role model esteemed journalist Edward R. Murrow, who notably defended now-certain Soviet spies Alger Hiss and Laurence Duggan. [6]

But there’s an entirely inconsistent double standard used when considering appointees from right-leaning administrations as contrasted to left-wing appointees. The left uses guilt by association as their standard tactic when it suits their purposes. The left uses smear campaigns, such as the one deployed against Supreme Court nominee [7] Brett Kavanaugh. [8] Or the totally baseless Mueller investigation [9] and Trump Impeachment Hoax. [10] Or the smear about Trump in Charlottesville where it was falsely said he said far-right people were ‘very fine people.’ [11] Those are properly understood as ‘smears’ because they used information that was false. It’s not hard [12] to [13] find [14] left [15]-leaning [16] people [17] asking [18] whether a judicial nominee on the right has ever heard of or been a member of, the Federalist Society. [19]

Smears and guilt by association is good when deployed against the right. When truthful factual statements are made about a Biden nominee on a relevant topic of concern: leftists complain its a ‘smear.’

As but another example! The modern left complains about the word ‘grooming’ when used against their policies pushing the sexualization of children. But they have no problem saying that young lawyers are ‘groomed’ by the Federalist Society, implying some sort of sexualized smear campaign there. [20]

So what’s going on here? The evolution of the Senate nominating process is important missing context from the TPM article. The groups a nominee belongs to are now used as a kind of litmus test for ideology. It’s hyperbole to call it McCarthyism when one tries to infer the ideological of someone via their associations when that same person clearly refuses to answer any policy questions before the nominating committee. It happens on both the political right and left. One side likes that these people signal these messages, and the other side acknowledges the signal and predictably opposes it. Meanwhile, nominees have learned to dance the nominee Potomac two-step, where you refuse to answer any substantive questions. [21]

That practice was started with the nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993. [22] Some even refer to it as the “Ginsburg Standard” or the “Ginsburg Rule.” [23]

The nomination process has become flawed because nominees won’t answer questions. The process then reverts to associations and written statements by the nominee in the past. The background, upbringing, educational history, papers, are certainly relevant considerations for the Senate in the absence of substantive answers.

Pointing out that someone who wants to regulate American banking grew up under Soviet Communism and has made repeated extreme-left statements that echo and mirror that ideology is certainly relevant to the nomination.

Those things aren’t a ‘smear’ or ‘McCarthyism’ those are just wild exaggerations of the situation. This article is just shameless political advocacy in lieu of journalism by ignoring the substantive issues that caused five Democrats to oppose a Democrat nominee.

We just don’t know why Senators didn’t ask to hear Omarova’s ringtone:

OUR RATING: #FakeNews. This is what you’d expect on CNN playing to an empty airport.

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