I suddenly have a lot of competition covering my beat. Who knew the mainstream media cared how our taxpayer dollars are wasted?
Security costs for cabinet secretaries are "steep." Spending is "lavish" again. When, God forbid, a secretary takes his wife with him on a business trip, CNN is there with the documents in hand, showing her "involvement."
The New York Times is now giving tips on how to save taxpayers money, while lambasting Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's use of military charter flights. (Mnuchin's travel ended up costing half of what Obama administration secretaries spent on average. Oddly, the Times never followed up.)
The latest target is Scott Pruitt, arguably President Trump's most effective cabinet secretary. While there is questionable conduct for sure, like using an obscure law to give aides huge taxpayer-funded raises, it's curious the media suddenly care how much international junkets cost.
The first scandal that caught the press's attention was Pruitt's trip to Italy last summer to attend the G-7 summit, which cost $84,000 in airfare and security, roughly the same that Lisa Jackson, Obama's first EPA administrator, spent on average on flights and security for four international trips.
The headlines for Jackson's trip to the same summit in Syracuse, Italy, in early 2009 were slightly different.
The Times has hit Pruitt for his "extravagant spending" on private flights and 24-hour security. But not too long ago it was the Times defending lavish trips on the taxpayer's dime.
"There is nothing like a little Mediterranean beach vacation to unwind," the Times wrote back in August 2010. Do tell.
"Unless you happen to travel with dozens of Secret Service agents, trailed by photographers and dogged by controversy."
Ah, poor Michelle Obama. She just wanted to get away, but those mean Republicans had to spoil her vacation.
"Michelle Obama hoped to enjoy a quiet summer break in southern Spain with her younger daughter and a few friends," the Times wrote. "But the Andalusian getaway has gotten away from her as the European media document her every flamenco dance step and critics back home question the wisdom of such a lavish vacation, which involves at least some taxpayer money, in a time of austerity."
"At least some" turned into a measly $467,585, including $26,670.61 for a "chauffeur tour of Costa del Sol."
The Times wrote approvingly of Mrs. Obama and "her entourage" touring the "picturesque southern city of Ronda," and hobnobbing with Eva Longoria Parker and Antonio Banderas.
Besides, reports on the trips "had been exaggerated," the Times said.
"Mrs. Obama is not traveling with 40 friends," the Times assured us. It was only "two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members."
It was no big deal for Mrs. Obama and friends to stay at the five-star Hotel Villa Padierna, where "at least 30 rooms were reserved for the entourage."
"The hotel is one of Spain's more luxurious establishments, with rooms ranging from $500-a-night to a $6,600 suite with 24-hour butler service," the Times wrote.
"While some Americans frown," the Times concluded, "the Spanish eagerly welcomed the Obama group, seeing it as a boost for a tourism sector severely hit by the country's economic downturn."
It might not have been great for the taxpayers, but it was good for Spain!
It wasn't just the first lady's taxpayer-funded trips the media were either uninterested in covering or eager to defend. It was the entire Obama cabinet.
In fact, then-congressman Barney Frank had to apologize for scrutinizing Timothy Geitner's use of military charter flights, which cost at least $150,000 for international trips and totaled "several million dollars a year."
The only Obama official who came close to scrutiny from the mainstream media was Attorney General Eric Holder, who along with his predecessor Michael Mukasey and former FBI director Robert Mueller, now the special counsel, spent over $11 million on taxpayer-funded private jets for personal travel.
Holder used the FBI's private Gulfstream V to go to the Super Bowl in New Orleans in 2013, costing $15,000 each way.
Holder alone spent $4.3 million on travel in three years, including 31 personal trips and "two jaunts to Martha's Vineyard that totaled $95,184 in flight expenses."
Tom Price was ousted from the Department of Health and Human Services for far less.
The media didn't report on Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's travel costs either, which lasted up until 11 days before Trump's inauguration. Who knows how much it cost us for Moniz to travel to Mexico City on January 9, 2017, to sign a "non-binding" document on electricity grids.
Republicans shouldn't be hypocrites, careless, or both, when it comes to how they spend our money. But let's not kid ourselves by pretending the media actually cares.