Obama's War on The Press
The love fest between the mainstream press and President Obama may be officially over. An Associated Press report released today accuses the White House of aggressive and oppressive tactics in controlling information and prosecuting whistleblowers. The story specifically condemns the administration's war on leaks and warns about the chilling effect on journalists in America.
The AP directly calls out the Obama administration for its strong-handed methods. It denounces the unprecedented record of prosecutions of sources and the unjustified seizure of records from journalists. The report warns about the chilling effect on the freedom of the press.
The U.S. government's aggressive prosecution of leaks and efforts to control information are having a chilling effect on journalists and government whistleblowers, according to a report released Thursday on U.S. press freedoms under the Obama administration.
The Committee to Protect Journalists conducted its first examination of U.S. press freedoms amid the Obama administration's unprecedented number of prosecutions of government sources and seizures of journalists' records. Usually the group focuses on advocating for press freedoms abroad.
Journalists now admit that the White House has declared war on the press. They have not seen such aggressive and oppressive methods since the Nixon administration.
"In the Obama administration's Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press," wrote Downie, now a journalism professor at Arizona State University. "The administration's war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I've seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post's investigation of Watergate."
Mainstream journalists are learning a hard lesson about tyranny courtesy of President Obama. Editors and reporters have had their phone and emails records seized. Some have been investigated, while others are under surveillance by their coworkers. Sources are afraid to speak out. Individuals can face felony charges for speaking truthfully. Fear and apprehension are setting in.
Downie interviewed numerous reporters and editors, including a top editor at the Associated Press, following revelations this year that the government secretly seized records for telephone lines and switchboards used by more than 100 AP journalists. Downie also interviewed journalists whose sources have been prosecuted on felony charges.
Those suspected of discussing classified information are increasingly subject to investigation, lie-detector tests, scrutiny of telephone and email records, and now surveillance by coworkers under a new "Insider Threat Program" that has been implemented in every agency.
"There's no question that sources are looking over their shoulders," Michael Oreskes, the AP's senior managing editor, told Downie. "Sources are more jittery and more standoffish, not just in national security reporting. A lot of skittishness is at the more routine level. The Obama administration has been extremely controlling and extremely resistant to journalistic intervention."
A monumental shift appears to be taking place. The American press is experiencing firsthand what a police state looks like. They're finally getting a taste of how totalitarian governments suppress and control the press and ultimately enslave their citizens. Genuine fear may have awakened the press from its slumber.
Let's hope this trend continues. Tyranny is at our doorstep. We need all hands on deck to fight this darkness, including the liberal mainstream press corps that has been asleep at its post since 2008.