The Washington Post’s Lisa Rein provides a summary of Alex Acosta’s tenure at the Department of Labor. It includes this passage:
Acosta, who aspired to be a federal judge, had a strategy as secretary to play a safe, inside game running the Labor Department, according to multiple current and former administration officials. He aimed for a balance in his approach to labor policy that would satisfy the White House — while also placating union leaders and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Much of the rest of Rein’s article is to the same effect.
Her report is on the money, but raises this question: Why didn’t we see this kind of reporting about Acosta’s DOL while he was still Secretary?
To further his ambitions, Acosta deployed his “play it safe” strategy almost from Day 1 — in other words, for two years. Yet, if you relied on the Washington Post, you would have known next to nothing about it.
Other than Power Line, only Bloomberg’s Daily Labor Report, the availability of which is limited to subscribers, provided meaningful coverage of what was a remarkable story — a cabinet Secretary’s willful obstruction of the White House’s agenda.
Why was that? It’s not that the mainstream media is averse to covering goings on in the federal bureaucracy. A Cabinet member who vigorously implements the Trump White House’s agenda will draw heavy scrutiny, and indeed constant criticism, from the mainstream media. If Acosta had done so — e.g. by discarding unnecessary or counterproductive regulations or backing away from specious pay discrimination suits — you certainly would have read about it in the Washington Post.
But Acosta’s DOL didn’t feed the “sky is falling” narrative the Post peddles about the Trump administration. That’s one reason why the Post didn’t talk about.
I think there is another. The left was happy with Acosta’s tenure at DOL. From its perspective, the Acosta DOL was better than what it realistically could have hoped for in a Republican administration.
As Rein tells us in her belated story, Andy Puzder, Trump’s original pick for the job, would have been a nightmare for the left. Pat Pizzella, who eventually became Acosta’s deputy is, in Rein’s words, “a hard-liner” who “is expected to follow an agenda that closely matches the White House’s.” Imagine that.
Why, then, would the Post report on Acosta’s renegade approach of “placating union leaders and Democrats on Capitol Hill”? Why would it provide ammunition to Acosta’s conservative critics who were calling for his ouster?
The answer is, it wouldn’t. It chose to let the sleeping dog lie.