The media have largely ignored the explosive allegation made by a DOJ whistleblower about the counterterrorism targeting of outraged parents that appears to undercut sworn testimony from Attorney General Merrick Garland.
On Tuesday, a whistleblower revealed the FBI created a “threat tag” to aid in tracking alleged threats against school board officials, teachers, and staff as part of its implementation of a controversial memo issued by Garland last month.
An Oct. 20 internal email from the FBI’s criminal and counterterrorism divisions, released Tuesday by House Republicans, instructed agents to apply the threat tag “EDUOFFICIALS” to all investigations and assessments of threats directed specifically at education officials.
“The purpose of the threat tag is to help scope this threat on a national level, and provide an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the threat picture for effective engagement with law enforcement partners at all levels,” the email stated.
The email also directs FBI agents to consider whether the criminal activity being investigated is in violation of federal law and what the potential “motivation” is behind it.
The FBI issued a statement defending its conduct, saying, “A tag is merely a statistical tool to track information for review and reporting. The creation of a threat tag in no way changes the long-standing requirements for opening an investigation, nor does it represent a shift in how the FBI prioritizes threats. The FBI has used tags to track everything from drug trafficking to human trafficking.”
GOP lawmakers are calling on Garland to return to Capitol Hill. alleging his October 21 testimony of no longer passing muster.
“I can’t imagine in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorism,” he told the House Judiciary Committee.
However, since the story broke on Tuesday, neither ABC, CBS, NBC nor CNN offered any on-air coverage to the growing controversy, according to transcripts.
CNN waited until Thursday to publish a report online sympathetic to the DOJ’s position that downplays the whistleblower’s involvement, running the headline, “FBI gauges threats against educators and school board members.”
Meanwhile, MSNBC addressed the controversy only once – and it was when “Deadline: White House” anchor Nicolle Wallace scoffed at the GOP uproar.
“Debates over things like mask mandates and what topics are being taught to children now turning into fiery and at times violent clashes. They’ve reached such a critical level, the FBI is now taking steps to protect anyone who could be in danger,” Wallace began before detailing FBI’s implemented “threat tag” on parents.
“Now Republicans seized on that directive. They used it to rile up their base by falsely claiming that the Biden administration is targeting parents,” Wallace told viewers on Wednesday.
The liberal host rejected the notion that Garland’s memo was “targeting” or “censoring” parents as Republicans have alleged, but regardless of the truth, the conservatives have “found their newest flashpoint.”
While the liberal networks downplayed or ignored the DOJ whistleblower, they sang a different tune towards the letter the National School Board Association had sent to the Biden administration. That letter linked outraged parents to “domestic terrorists and the mainstream media promoted it on-air as if their animated response to strict COVID guidelines or opposition to the curriculum were a danger to school boards. The NSBA letter prompted Garland to issue his own memo urging FBI agents across the country to monitor “threats of violence” at school board meetings.
Amid intense backlash, the NSBA rescinded its letter and issued an apology. Garland, however, stood behind his memo, which was largely based on that letter, and was grilled by Republican senators during his testimony last month.
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.