Some years ago Bernard Goldberg wrote a book, “A Slobbering Love Affair With Obama”, about the way the press treated his 2008-9 campaign and election as President. The mainstream press continues to protect Obama, often rather blatantly. The curious thing about this is that it is not reciprocated. More and more, the press acts and sounds like an abused wife.
A case in point is the way the networks-ABC, NBC and CBS-covered the government shutdown. A new report from the Media Research Center analyzed the coverage, finding 41 stories that blamed the Republican Party and zero-none-that blamed the Democrats. There were 17 stories that blamed both sides. Recall, please, the shutdown continued because the President refused to negotiate and the Democrat-controlled Senate refused to vote on any bills sent over from the House.
A recent, glaring example of how some of today’s journalists have debased their profession was the decision by Paul Thornton, editor of The Los Angeles Times letter’s section, to openly refuse to publish any letters from skeptics about the global warming hoax that blames “climate change” on human activity, not the Sun, oceans, and other natural factors.
The cover of the September/October edition of The Quill, the membership magazine of the 8.000-member Society of Professional Journalists, featured an article by Kara Hackett, “There Goes the Sun”, referring to the metaphorical sunlight that is supposed to shine on government activities. The subtitle said, “President Obama has had successes and failures in changing the way Washington works. When it comes to his transparency promises, there’s not much to cheer. His 2008 campaign talked the talk, but nine months into his second term, where’s the walk?”
Journalists pride themselves for being on the cutting edge of events and trends, but they have been slow to realize or to admit that they have been instrumental in electing a pathological liar to the highest office in the land. “Now, after a turbulent start to Obama’s second term in office, his administration’s 2009 promise to be ‘the most open and transparent in history’ is another liability,” lamented Hackett.
Another liability…like an Obamacare from which Congress is exempt, the Benghazi attack last year, the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, the revelations about the National Security Agency, and the fact that the IRS no longer can be trusted with your private and personal information? And that’s the short list.
The Quill devoted six pages to Hackett’s article as she carefully detailed the many measures that seemed to offer a new era in openness. Many reporters chafed at difficulties they encountered during George W. Bush’s two terms, but the hostility to Bush43 was no secret. All administrations are reluctant to share information that might not make them look good. This is a description of the adversarial relationship that has existed since the days of George Washington.
The complaints are old and common, so Obama’s 2009 instruction to agencies and departments to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure” when responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries was music to their ears. In December 2009, the White House issued an Open Government Directive, “ordering agencies to publish at least three high-value data sets on Data.gov and create an open government Web page to update citizens about its progress.”
Like the proverbial frog in a pot of water being slowly brought to a boil, it took reporters a while to get beyond the glow emanating from the administration’s directives to the reality of dealing with government agencies and departments.
New York Times reporter, Sarah Cohen, is quoted as saying that the “information agencies provide is often an extension of their public relations arms to help them enlist support rather than to help the public understand what is really going on.” Well, duh!
What was going on was a variety of government policies that turned out to be duds. A case in point was the billions in loans to “clean energy” companies that frequently declared bankruptcy before the first term ended. Another was the “stimulus.”
More blatant was the way the administration twisted arms and offered bribes to some members of Congress to get the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) enacted. Not one Republican voted for it, so they needed every Democrat vote.
Virtually every promise Obama made about the bill has turned out to be a lie.
Within the press community, groups devoted to more open government began to take notice, from the Open the Government Coalition to the National Freedom of Information Coalition, Investigative Reporters and Editors, to the Project on Government Oversight.
The Obama administration became obsessed with secrecy to identify and prosecute “whistleblowers.”
Hackett noted that “The Obama administration has used the Espionage Act of 1917 seven times, more than all previous presidents combined, to prosecute federal employees who expose government waste, fraud and abuse”, adding “These are the same employees the president once pledged to support.”
Even after signing the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act in November 2012, the administrative created a loophole big enough to drive a tank through. Hackett interviewed Jesselyn Radack, the national security and human rights director for the Government Accountability Project who noted that “whistleblowers who go through the internal channels to report wrongdoing used to suffer workplace reprisals. But now, under Obama, they’re facing the rest of their lives in prison.”
When the Justice Department subpoenaed 21 Associated Press phone lines and accused Fox reporter, James Rosen, of being a possible “co-conspirator” in a leak investigation, it was impossible for the press to ignore the thuggish efforts of the administration to shut down any “leaks” in a way that put a big chill on relations between contacts within the administration and reporters.
A recent report by The Committee to Protect Journalists on “The Obama Administration and the Press Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America” spelled out the assault on U.S. and foreign journalists, saying that “the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press.”
What this means is that the Obama administration has a lot to hide and the front line of defense against its machinations, the press, continues to protect it despite having become a target for oppression. You’re next.
Editor’s Note: I have been a member of SPJ since 1979.
© Alan Caruba, 2013