According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, President Barack Obama is one of the more obscure presidents in recent history. Well, at least when it comes to the media.
The report was fashioned after the Department of Justice seized the phone and e-mail records of some Associated Press reporters and probed the phone records of Fox News reported James Rosen; two news stories that made headlines and powered the narrative of Obama’s lack of transparency to the forefront.
Since the administration was criticized for its strong armed tactics against reporters, the DOJ has dialed back its external pressure on the media. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new rules that include a negotiation period between media outlets and the government if the DOJ needs access to records.
In addition, Holder, or any future Attorney General, has to approve search warrants that target the news media.
Holder’s new guidelines would seem to make the environment around the White House and the press less tense, but that’s an inconsistent theory.
Quoted in the Committee’s report is David E. Sanger, a Washington correspondent of The New York Times. He states that the Obama Administrations is “the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered.”
Mesh that information with Obama’s foreign policy on drones, the failed communication tactics from the White House on the Affordable Care Act, the use of the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers, and we have ourselves the perfect sized skid mark on a white pair of briefs.
Delving deeper into the report, there are more quotes and lines from reporters about their fear of being criminalized for doing their jobs, to some sources getting anxious about giving up information. It all basically details just how paranoid this administration has become and maybe shows an unfortunate sensitivity to criticism.
This administration’s sensitivity to how it’s viewed in the media maybe stems from the way the public, and media, turned on the Bush White House. After 9/11 and America’s invasion of Iraq, once we learned that there were no weapons of mass destruction, the public quickly formed a new opinion on President Bush, and it wasn’t positive.
He was labeled a liar, and his press coverage only had a positive slant when it was from a conservative news outlet.
My belief is that Obama wants to have more control over that narrative with his time in the Oval. Instead of watching the media run with either a false narrative about his presidency or one that he cannot control, he would rather operate under the guise of national security so that he may control his press clippings.
This war on journalism also flies in the face of Obama’s vow to become the most transparent president in history. While campaigning for president, then Senator Obama widely and roundly condemned the secret nature of the Bush White House.
Once he was elected, he wanted to remove the shadow of secrecy from the Office of the President and allow Americans to see how open and honest he can be as Commander in Chief.
Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way. Between leaks and a “desire to control the message,” the Obama White House has unintentionally usurped the Bush years as some of the most secret in Washington since Nixon was dumped.
An unintended or maybe forced consequence of control is losing power of the situation. The Obama White House and its tunnel vision over leaks, sources, journalists and whistleblowers has created a myriad of negative press that this administration wanted to avoid.
To go from wanting to be transparent to being compared to Nixon should show a pretty clear indicator that changes are needed before the train completely falls off the tracks. But at this point, why should change come about if the paranoia keeps them sane?
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- Report: Obama most secretive since Nixon (seattletimes.com)
- ‘Scared to death’… (theguardian.com)
- Obama Picks Up Where Nixon Left Off: Running The Washington Redskins (forbes.com)