October 17 2013
Vicki E. Alger
That platitude turned out to be just another broken promise, according to a new report, “The Obama Administration and the Press,” by former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie, Jr. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized:
This president runs a secretive operation.
Says who? Says Leonard Downie Jr., a former Washington Post editor who recently wrote a special report for the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization whose mission is to promote "press freedom worldwide" and defend "the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal."
This is no right-leaning group, and Downie is no conservative hit man. He's a mainstream media veteran and when he writes that the Obama "administration's actions have too often contradicted Obama's stated intentions," the public should pay attention.
Downie is not alone. Here’s a sampling of what other noted journalists said:
David E. Sanger, veteran chief Washington correspondent of the New York Times, "This is the most closed, control freak administration I've ever covered."
…Ellen Weiss, Washington bureau chief for E.W. Scripps newspapers and stations, said “the Obama administration is far worse than the Bush administration” in trying to thwart accountability reporting about government agencies. Among several examples she cited, the Environmental Protection Agency “just wouldn’t talk to us” or release records about environmental policy review panels “filled by people with ties to target companies.”
…But his administration’s actions have too often contradicted Obama’s stated intentions. “Instead,” New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote earlier this year, “it’s turning out to be the administration of unprecedented secrecy and unprecedented attacks on a free press.”
…Michael Oreskes, a senior managing editor of The Associated Press, “Sources are more jittery and more standoffish, not just in national security reporting. A lot of skittishness is at the more routine level. The Obama administration has been extremely controlling and extremely resistant to journalistic intervention.
…Frank Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief who is now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, said he thought the combined efforts of the administration were “squeezing the flow of information at several pressure points.” He cited investigations of “leakers and journalists doing business with them” and limitations on “everyday access necessary for the administration to explain itself and be held accountable.”
The new report concludes that journalists are largely disappointed. But as IBD retorted:
Reporters wouldn't be disappointed had they done their jobs rather than cheerlead Obama's 2008 candidacy. If a secretive, press-abusing administration occupies the White House, it's in large part their fault.