U.S. President Barack Obama visits visits the Center for Urban Families on May 17, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo: Getty Images)
The Obama administration has been under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks over a number of troubling scandals. The controversies surrounding Benghazi, the IRS targeting conservatives, and the U.S. Department of Justice spying on and secretly seizing the phone records of AP and Fox News reporters (that we know of so far) have all drawn concentrated attention by Congress, the American people, and the press.
Perhaps because the issue hits closest to home, though, many in the press seem most concerned about the actions of the DOJ.
On Tuesday, both the New York Times editorial board and Dana Milbank at the Washington Post penned scathing opinion pieces about the Obama administration limiting press freedom, while highlighting the ramifications.
The New York Times editorial board wrote:
With the decision to label a Fox News television reporter [James Rosen] a possible “co-conspirator” in a criminal investigation of a news leak, the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.
The Washington Post article was much more scathing:
To treat a reporter as a criminal for doing his job — seeking out information the government doesn’t want made public — deprives Americans of the First Amendment freedom on which all other constitutional rights are based. Guns? Privacy? Due process? Equal protection? If you can’t speak out, you can’t defend those rights, either.
Beyond that, the administration’s actions shatter the president’s credibility and discourage allies who would otherwise defend the administration against bogus accusations such as those involving the Benghazi “talking points.” If the administration is spying on reporters and accusing them of criminality just for asking questions — well, who knows what else this crowd is capable of doing?
If Obama really is “a fierce defender of the First Amendment,” as his spokesman would have it, he will move quickly to fix this. Otherwise, Obama is establishing an ominous precedent for future leaders whose fondness for the First Amendment may not be so fierce. [Emphasis added]
Milbank also notes that President Obama's administration has prosecuted more people accused of leaking information than all previous administrations combined.
But The Hill's Jeff Bachman takes it all a step further, adding that there is a monstrous double standard regarding leaking information to the press:
The New York Times and The Washington Post are propagating a false narrative, one that depicts Obama as some sort of crusader hell bent on plugging all leaks. The reality is the Obama administration has either authorized or acquiesced to the leak of information that is deemed politically beneficial, while relentlessly investigating and prosecuting those who reveal information that reflects poorly on his administration and the U.S. government.
The Obama administration has sent a clear message. Government officials and journalists who wish to work together to create news stories through the leak of classified information that portray the president and his administration in a positive light should have no fear. And to the journalists and whistle-blowers thinking about publishing that other kind of classified information, be prepared to have your emails read, your phones tapped without your knowledge and your life and career turned upside down. [Emphasis added]