Obama’s War on the Media

May 15, 2013   ·   1 Comments

Source: NYTX


By Michael M'Gehee:

The front page of the May 14, 2013 edition of The New York Times says, “Phone Records of Journalists of The Associated Press Seized by U.S.,” and includes this paragraph:

The development represents the latest collision of news organizations and federal investigators over government efforts to prevent the disclosure of national security information, and it comes against a backdrop of an aggressive policy by the Obama administration to rein in leaks. Under President Obama, six current and former government officials have been indicted in leak-related cases so far, twice the number brought under all previous administrations combined.

Nearly everything you need to know is neatly compacted in those two sentences. The “collision” between the media and the federal government and their “aggressive policy” to stop whistleblowers is not new. In fact, the seizure of AP records is only the “latest” development.

In the NYT article we read a statement by The Newspaper Association of America which said that, "Today we learned of the Justice Department’s unprecedented wholesale seizure of confidential telephone records from the Associated Press. These actions shock the American conscience and violate the critical freedom of the press protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

Earlier today CNN published their piece “Why you should care about whistleblowers,” in which Robert Greenwald gets space to discuss his new documentary: “War on Whistleblowers.” The CNN article includes a quote from the film. It comes from Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight. Brian says: "The impact of this administration's aggressiveness in the national security arena has had an extraordinary chilling effect. The number of people who have indicated to us that they wish they could talk but they can't because they're afraid of what could happen to them is a terrible thing for our democracy."

And just last month The Huffington Post published their article “Obama Whistleblower Prosecutions Lead To Chilling Effect On Press,” which began with the following:

NEW YORK -– On April 9, McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay reported that the Obama administration has “targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified ‘other’ militants” in drone strikes, a revelation that contradicts previous administration claims of pursuing only senior-level operatives who pose an imminent threat to the United States.

It was an investigative story clearly in the public interest, shedding new light on the government’s long-running targeted-killing program in Pakistan. But now Landay, a veteran national security reporter for the McClatchy newspaper chain, is concerned that the Obama administration could next investigate him in hopes of finding the sources for “top-secret U.S. intelligence reports” cited in the story. “Do I think that they could come after me?” Landay asked, in an interview with The Huffington Post. “Yes.”

Moving further back in time is the Mother Jones article “Obama's War on Whistleblowers,” that has this chilling introduction:

White is black and down is up. Leaks that favor the president are shoveled out regardless of national security, while national security is twisted to pummel leaks that do not favor him. Watching their boss, bureaucrats act on their own, freelancing the punishment of whistleblowers, knowing their retaliatory actions will be condoned. The United States rains Hellfire missiles down on its enemies, with the president alone sitting in judgment of who will live and who will die by his hand.

A few months prior was the article “In Washington, Fear the Silence, Not the Noise,” which published by TomDispatch:

On January 23rd, the Obama administration charged former CIA officer John Kiriakou under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information to journalists about the waterboarding of al-Qaida suspects. His is just the latest prosecution in an unprecedented assault on government whistleblowers and leakers of every sort.

And least we should forget, it’s not just the mainstream media who is threatened by President Obama’s War on Whistleblowers. There is the targeting of Wikileaks as well. As Michael Brenner wrote in December of 2010 in his HuffPost article “Obama's War on WikiLeaks -- and Us”:

The Obama administration's extrajudicial assault on WikiLeaks and the person of Julian Assange is the most frightening. Federal officials have put the muscle on private businesses to deny their services to both Wikileaks and anyone who wishes to extent financial support to them. The fact that PayPal, Amazon, Mastercard, Visa et al are de facto public utilities underscores the abuse of governmental power.

The writing is on the wall. The man who campaigned on “transparency” is not tolerating dissent. And as this unfolds President Obama’s Press Secretary is cynically telling reporters to their faces that this White House is “a strong defender of the First Amendment.”

I would like to think that my column for The NYT eXaminer has provided countless examples of the mainstream media acting as a parrot for the United States government. So when various news agencies sound the alarms, we should take it serious.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. carlyle says:

    There is no there, there in the Benghazi affair. The IRS scandal will call attention to the political impact of secret donations and help the demand for change.
    However, the seizure of phone records is the only one of the so called scandals that is a threat to all Americans and it is getting the least attention.
    Our “war on terror” will end up being a war on domestic protests.


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