Hurricane Sandy drowns coverage of White House scandals

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Hurricane Sandy is helping drown media coverage of several White House scandals in the crucial run-up to Election Day.

The storm has also dampened coverage of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s progress in critical Midwest swing states.

On Monday, the networks’ cameras were pointed at Obama as he stood at a White House podium to sketch out his administration’s response to the oncoming hurricane.

“I’m extraordinarily grateful for the cooperation of our state and local officials. … At this point, there are no unmet needs,” he said, speaking as the president, instead of a candidate.

The cameras weren’t pointed, however, at the Obama administration’s proliferating scandals, including the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling project, the Treasury Department’s decision to strip Delphi Automotive workers of their pensions and the administration’s intelligence leaks.

The cameras also weren’t pointed at the top GOP officials who recently began demanding the White House provide support for Obama’s claims that he directed his deputies to immediately secure U.S. diplomatic sites after jihadis assaulted the Benghazi consulate on Sept. 11.

However, there’s no evidence that nearby U.S. forces — such fast-moving jets, helicopter-borne rescue forces or missile-armed drones — were rushed to help either the besieged officials in the diplomatic compound or the CIA officials in the nearby CIA annex.

Instead, Fox News has cited unnamed U.S. sources in Libya who said rescue attempts were countermanded three times.

“If in fact [Obama] did issue such an order, and the order was not carried out by the military, then Congress needs to get to the bottom of it,” said Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

”But I don’t think he issued such an order. … [He] did nothing to help our people on the ground,” McKeon told Fox News on Monday.

“The president’s leadership has been woefully lacking, [and it] looks to me like a cover-up, they just want to keep everything under wraps, until after the election,” he added.

Most established media outlets have ignored the GOP’s demands for documentation, and have downplayed disagreements and possible finger-pointing by Obama and other top administration officials.

The media has also declined to highlight the dramatic testimony from the father of one of the two guards killed at the CIA annex.

“Those people who made the decision [to not sent aid] and who knew about the decision and lied about it, are murderers of my son,” Charlie Woods, an attorney and the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the two killed security officers, said Oct. 26 on Fox News.

Similarly, Hurricane Sandy has minimized media pressure on the White House to respond to a new House report on the international Fast and Furious scandal, which contributed to the death of hundreds of Mexicans.

The smuggling of military-style weapons to drug gangs was a “deliberate strategy created at the highest levels of the Justice Department aimed at identifying the leaders of a major gun trafficking ring,” according to a new congressional report issued Oct. 29.

The report — produced by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the senior Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House oversight committee — blames top top Obama officials “for failing to supervise and for missing basic red flags.”

The officials include Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein and Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed Siskel.

“Countless people may be murdered with these weapons, yet the Attorney General appears to be letting his employees slide by with little to no accountability,” said a statement from Grassley.

GOP officials are also trying to publicize the Delphi scandal, in which Treasury Department officials agreed in 2009 to slash pensions for 20,000 blue collar workers at the company, while protecting pensions for unionized workers at General Motors.

The decision boosted the payoff for new investors, who had allies in the administration. (RELATED: Axelrod entangles White House in Delphi scandal)

On Saturday, for example, Rep. Paul Ryan — Romney’s running mate — met with Delphi workers in Ohio, to highlight the White House’s choices.

“You see, the president likes to go around Ohio talking about how he saved the auto industry, how the auto bailout was such a success,” said Ryan. But “he hasn’t talked to these Ohio Delphi salaried employees. … This is one of those examples of the government picking winners and losers,” he declared in the critical battleground state.

On Monday, Romney got good news when a poll showed him inching two points ahead of Obama in the state. The Rasmussen poll showed Romney at 50 percent in Ohio, compared to Obama’s 48 percent.

The poll — the first major survey to show Romney leading in the key swing state — received little publicity.

New polls also showed Romney closing the gap in the nearby states of Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Other scandals have also been left on the cutting room floor.

They include numerous leaks highlighting classified details of the 2011 raid that successfully killed Osama bin Laden, more evidence that the Obama campaign has made only minimal efforts to stop the flow of illegal online donations into the campaign and continued complaints that GOP donors are being hit by audits directed by politicized tax inspectors at the Internal Revenue Service.

Amid the storm, both campaigns have curtailed appearances by the candidates and top surrogates.

Romney snagged some favorable press by using several campaign buses to transport aid, but the president will have numerous opportunities to showcase his leadership during White House TV appearances.

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Neil Munro