[VIDEO] Spare Me Your Hypocritical Journalism Lecture, Mr. PresidentPosted: March 30, 2016 Filed under: Censorship, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Associated Press, Barack Obama, Freedom of Information Act, Freedom of the press, Insider Threat Program, Jack Shafer, James Risen, James Rosen, media, National Review, news, POLITICO Magazine, Republican Party (United States), Richard Nixon, Ted Cruz, Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, video Leave a comment
At an awards ceremony, Obama praises journalists. Back in the White House, he blocks honest press queries with all his power.
Jack Shafer writes: The last person in the world who should be lecturing journalists on how to do journalism is President Barack Obama. Yet there Obama was Monday night at a journalism award ceremony, yodeling banalities about the role of a press in a free society, moaning over the dangers posed by “he said/she said” reporting, and—to the delight of the assembled audience—attacking Donald Trump in every way but name.
“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration.”
— Leonard Downie Jr. in a Committee to Protect Journalists report
The press-heavy crowd, convened by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications to give the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting to Alec MacGillis, clapped at Obama’s 30-minute address, encouraging his best Trump-baiting lines about “free media” and the dangers of “false equivalence.”
At the awards dinner for Syracuse’s Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, President Barack Obama lectured the media and their responsibilities toward an informed electorate.
What they should have done is bombard Obama with rotten fruit or ripped him with raspberries for his hypocrisy.
“Shame on Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for allowing Obama—a documented opponent of the press—to pontificate on journalistic practice.”
How do we hate Obama’s treatment of the press? Let me count the ways. Under his administration, the U.S. government has set a new record for withholding Freedom of Information Act requests, according to a recent Associated Press investigation.
[Read the full story here, at POLITICO Magazine]
FOIA gives the public and press an irreplaceable view into the workings of the executive branch. Without timely release of government documents and data, vital questions can’t be answered and stories can’t be written.
“The only press award he has any business awarding is a special commendation to Trump, thanking him for making Obama look like a free-speech radical by comparison.”
Obama’s “Insider Threat Program” has turned employees across the government—from the Peace Corps to the Social Security Administration to the Department of Agriculture—into information-squelching snitches. If this isn’t Trumpian behavior, I don’t know what is.
“What makes Obama’s speech so unstomachable is the way he praises reporters at an award ceremony by calling their work ‘indispensable,’ ‘incredible,’ ‘worth honoring’ and essential to democracy while simultaneously blocking honest press queries with all the formidable energies of his office.”
“Obama hates the press,” New York Times national security reporter James Risen said not long ago, “and he hates leaks.” AP Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee has decried the “day-to-day intimidation of sources” by the Obama administration, judging it worse than the Bush administration on that score. And in a 2013 piece, POLITICO’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen documented Obama’s mastery of “limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.”
As ProPublica has reported, at the same time the Obama administration has been paying lip service to protecting whistleblowers, it has pursued national security leaks to the press with a vehemence unmatched by any previous administration, using the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who leak to journalists more times than all previous administrations combined. Read the rest of this entry »
Leaky Espionage Act Violating Former CIA Officer Could Face Long-Ass Prison TermPosted: May 11, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Global, Law & Justice, War Room | Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Condoleezza Rice, David Petraeus, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Iran, James Risen, John Kiriakou, Leonie Brinkema, Missouri, O'Fallon, Paula Broadwell 2 Comments
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A former CIA officer convicted of leaking details of a secret mission to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions is making his final pitch for a lenient sentence.
Jeffrey Sterling of O’Fallon, Missouri, is scheduled for sentencing Monday afternoon in federal court near Washington.
He faces a recommended sentence of 20 years or more under federal sentencing guidelines for violations of the Espionage Act. A jury convicted him of telling New York Times journalist James Risen about a classified plan to trick the Iranian government by slipping flawed nuclear blueprints through a Russian intermediary. Read the rest of this entry »
Laurence H. Silberman: The Dangerous Lie That ‘Bush Lied’: ‘Some Journalists Still Peddle This Canard As If It Were Fact’Posted: February 8, 2015 Filed under: History, Mediasphere, War Room, White House | Tags: 2003 invasion of Iraq, al Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Condoleezza Rice, Iraq War, James Risen, Nuclear weapon, Operation Merlin, Saddam Hussein, United States 7 Comments
Mr. Silberman, a senior federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was co-chairman of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Laurence H. Silberman writes: In recent weeks, I have heard former Associate Press reporter Ron Fournier on Fox News twice asserting, quite offhandedly, that President George W. Bush“lied us into war in Iraq.”
“It is astonishing to see the ‘Bush lied’ allegation evolve from antiwar slogan to journalistic fact.”
I found this shocking. I took a leave of absence from the bench in 2004-05 to serve as co-chairman of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction—a bipartisan body, sometimes referred to as the Robb-Silberman Commission. It was directed in 2004 to evaluate the intelligence community’s determination that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD—I am, therefore, keenly aware of both the intelligence provided to President Bush and his reliance on that intelligence as his primary casus belli. It is astonishing to see the “Bush lied” allegation evolve from antiwar slogan to journalistic fact.
The intelligence community’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stated, in a formal presentation to President Bush and to Congress, its view that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction—a belief in which the NIE said it held a 90% level of confidence. That is about as certain as the intelligence community gets on any subject.
Recall that the head of the intelligence community, Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet, famously told the president that the proposition that Iraq possessed WMD was “a slam dunk.”
“The Right believes, not without some reason, that the main reason we ended up with a disastrous Obama-Pelosi-Reid triumvirate government — the brief years of which imposed damage that will take much longer to undo — had to do with the foreign policy of George W. Bush and the fiscal incontinence of congressional Republicans during the Bush years.”
Our WMD commission carefully examined the interrelationships between the Bush administration and the intelligence community and found no indication that anyone in the administration sought to pressure the intelligence community into its findings.
“As I recall, no one in Washington political circles offered significant disagreement with the intelligence community before the invasion. The National Intelligence Estimate was persuasive—to the president, to Congress and to the media.”
— Laurence H. Silberman
As our commission reported, presidential daily briefs from the CIA dating back to the Clinton administration were, if anything, more alarmist about Iraq’s WMD than the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. Read the rest of this entry »
Susan Page: Obama Administration Most ‘Dangerous’ to Media in HistoryPosted: October 27, 2014 Filed under: Censorship, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, CBS News, George W. Bush, James Risen, Jill Abramson, Josh Earnest, National Institutes of Health, New York Time, Obama, White House 2 Comments
At some point, a compendium of condemnations against the Obama administration’s record of media transparency (actually, opacity) must be assembled. Notable quotations in this vein come from former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who said, “It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering”; New York Times reporter James Risen, who said, “I think Obama hates the press”; and CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, who said, “This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.”
“It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering.”
— Jill Abramson
USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page has added a sharper edge to this set of knives. Speaking Saturday at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) seminar, Page called the current White House not only “more restrictive” but also “more dangerous” to the press than any other in history, a clear reference to the Obama administration’s leak investigations and its naming of Fox News’s James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a violation of the Espionage Act.
The WHCA convened the event both to strategize over how to open up the byways of the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history, as well as to compare war stories on the many ways in which it is not. Peter Baker, the veteran Washington reporter from the New York Times, provided perhaps the best instance of White House-administered madness. In covering a breaking story recently, Baker received a note from a White House handler indicating that President Obama had been briefed on the matter in question.
That information came to Baker “on background.” The gist: Not from me — a meeting has occurred..
Other gripes: Correspondents took aim at large-scale “deep background” briefings — attended by up to 40-odd reporters — at which ground rules specify no names for the officials in attendance and no quotations of anything they say. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl spoke of covering the Boston Marathon bombings. As the story developed, Karl noted that the White House wasn’t giving out any information at all. So he went around it and found out that the feds were sending their high-value interrogation team to Boston. “No way I would have gotten that out of the White House,” said Karl. Read the rest of this entry »
Risen: Obama Administration is this Generation’s ‘Greatest Enemy of Press Freedom’Posted: March 24, 2014 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Adam Liptak, Chuck Schumer, CNN, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, James Risen, Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times, New Yorker 2 Comments
Andrew Beaujon writes: “It won’t take me long to alienate everyone in the room,” Jeffrey Toobin told an audience in New York Friday. “For better or worse, it has been clear there is no journalistic privilege under the First Amendment.”
“The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.’ Anyone journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, ‘will be punished.'”
The New Yorker staff writer and CNN commentator was appearing on a panel as part of a conference called Sources and Secrets at the Times Center. A lot has already been written about the conference (links below), so I’m going to pull out a theme that appears again and again in my notes: How much protection do reporters really have with regard to sources, and how much, if any, protection would a federal shield law give them?
New York Times reporter James Risen, who is fighting an order that he testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of leaking information to him, opened the conference earlier by saying the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.” Anyone journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, “will be punished.”
The administration’s aggressive prosecutions have created “a de facto Official Secrets Act,” Risen said, and the media has been “too timid” in responding.
Obama, Holder, Journalists, and Their SourcesPosted: August 31, 2013 Filed under: Mediasphere, War Room | Tags: Attorney general, Bradley Manning, Eric Holder, Espionage Act of 1917, James Risen, Julian Assange, Sterling, WikiLeaks Leave a comment
In October, DreamWorks plans to release “The Fifth Estate,” an international thriller about WikiLeaks. The director is Bill Condon, who made two of the “Twilight” vampire movies; Benedict Cumberbatch plays Julian Assange. Sure to follow are studio imaginings of the Edward Snowden affair, which looked script-ready the minute the N.S.A. contractor surfaced in Hong Kong with a hard drive full of secrets and a baby face lined with stubble.
Assange and Snowden style themselves as philosopher-rebels in the age of Big Data, and, over all, their disclosures of state secrets have served the public interest. But the glamorization of their radicalism is a distraction. In American courthouses this summer, a vitally important, yet much more subdued, struggle over the First Amendment’s scope is taking place between the Obama Administration and the press. At issue is whether the Administration will fulfill a recent pledge to end its heavy-handed pursuit of professional journalists’ sources.