Friday, 11 October 2013

Has Obama Turned Against the Press that Helped Elect Him?

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Major players in the mainstream media expressed surprise and dismay at the latest evidence that they have been played for fools: the report from the Committee to Protect Journalism (CPJ) entitled “The Obama Administration and the Press.” The CPJ states that its mission is to “defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal” but its staff and directors are (and have been) filled to overflowing with so-called investigative journalists who have supported for years the building of a national government far exceeding constitutional bounds, such as Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Christiane Amanpour, Norman Pearlstine, and others.

The author of the study, Leonard J. Downie, Jr., himself spent 44 years promoting the liberal line for the Washington Post, 17 of them as its executive director and is now serving as a professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Downie has no excuse for not knowing what’s happening in Washington, nor any defense for his lifetime support of a regime that is now turning on the liberal army that helped elect him. In his book, The Rules of the Game, Downie admits that “no one knows more about Washington, its inner workings and secrets.... And no novel has better captured the tensions among business interests, politicians, and the press, or the morally ambiguous ways in which all three really work.”

Morally ambiguous indeed. The man he and his consorts helped elect in 2008 is now so tightly limiting access to his administration that even Downie is complaining:

In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records.

An “Insider Threat Program” being implemented in every government department ... monitor[s] the behavior of [every government employee].

Downie says that the administration has slipped its leash and has used the 1917 Espionage Act to bring charges against more employees and government contractors than in all previous administrations, including the onerous and overweening Bush I and II administrations.

Downie complains that such surveillance has gotten totally out of hand:

Reporters’ phone logs and e-mails were secretly subpoenaed and seized by the Justice Department in two of [those] investigations, and a Fox News reporter [James Rosen] was accused in an affidavit ... of being “an aider, abettor and/or conspirator” of an indicted leak defendant ... exposing him to possible prosecution for doing his job.

Downie quotes various liberal cohorts who are now critical of the monster they helped loose on the country, including New York Times reporter Scott Shane, who told Downie:

I think we have a real problem. Most [journalists] are deterred by those leaks prosecutions. They’re scared to death....

Sources are now afraid.... It’s having a deterrent effect. If we consider aggressive press coverage of government activities being at the core of American democracy, this tips the balance heavily in favor of the government.

Did Downie or Shane ever think for one moment that, given the opportunity to consolidate his power, Obama would not seize it?

Instead of allowing the pesky media to interrupt and interfere and shed light on illegal and unconstitutional activities, the Obama administration has created its own media — social media, videos, sophisticated websites, and even its own online newscast — to provide the public with only the sanitized information that the government wants the citizenry to know about. This isn't fair, complains Downie in his report, because that Obama media “discloses too little of the information needed by the press and the public to hold the administration accountable.... Instead, it’s mostly self-serving information.... Journalists are being told to speak to public affairs offices, but the public affairs office doesn't call them back, or is hostile.”

Of course they are. The mainstream media is now the enemy.

The executive director of the CPJ, Joel Simon, also expressed surprise at what the media has tacitly and vigorously supported all these years:

Here you have a portion of the Washington press corps affirming that this is an extraordinarily difficult administration to cover. You combine the different elements ... the leak investigations, the failure to address the declassification issue, the fact that the administration has been extremely controlling in terms of access ... put all these together and it paints a pretty damning picture of an administration that talks about openness and transparency, but isn't willing to engage with the media.

In 2010, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ran a radio documentary entitled Useful Idiots that listed various individuals as supporters of Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin, including prominent members of the media such as H.G. Wells, Doris Lessing, George Bernard Shaw, American liberal journalist Walter Duranty, and singer Paul Robeson. In political jargon, “useful idiot” is a term reserved to describe people such as these, and those in the American mainstream media, who serve as propagandists for regimes whose goals they support and who are used and then cynically discarded or neutralized when they have served their purpose.

Investors Business Daily, in its review of Downie’s report, almost got it right:

Reporters [shouldn't] be disappointed had they done their jobs rather than cheerlead Obama’s 2008 candidacy. If a secretive, press-abusing administration [now] occupies the White House, it’s in large part their own fault.


Photo of President Barack Obama: AP Images


A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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