A article published yesterday by the Washington Post that can be found on the Drudge Report, says the Obama administrations so-called media transparency is actually “opacity,” and quotes several journalists who claim the administration is the most secretive, and the most dangerous to media, in U.S. history. USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page had some of the harshest criticism while speaking at a White House Correspondents’ Association seminar on Saturday. Page said the administration is “more restrictive” and “more dangerous” to the media than any other in history, what the Post calls “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 list of journalists calling out the administration for its secrecy and suppression tactics are anything but conservative. Many of them are as liberal as they come, including Bob Schieffer of CBS News, who said, “This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.” Then there is Jill Abramson, former New York Times executive editor, who said this White House “is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering.” New York Times reporter James Risen said bluntly, “I think Obama hates the press.”
So much for the most transparent administration in history. But then, who can be transparent when they have so much to hide? The Obama administration is up to its eyeballs in scandals, and President Obama’s impeachable offenses list continues to grow. The problem is, we haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait until after the midterms, and watch as his skirting of Congress, and trampling of the Constitution really shifts into high gear.
According to the Post, reporters have complained about “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.
The Post also pointed to a claim by Bloomberg White House correspondent Margaret Talev, who said the White House was so sensitive to criticism that they stopped giving details on the fine wines served at state dinners. The Post says Talev contends “she got the runaround from White House press officials, making her ‘so mad at them.’ Over the course of a few weeks, she had to become, in essence, a wine correspondent.”
The secrecy extends to issues far more important that what wines the White House serves. Consider the Ebola scare, shouldn’t Americans be privy to all relevant information when it comes to such a potentially dangerous health issue? Is the administration so thin-skinned when it comes to criticism of the president’s handling of this matter that it puts poll numbers ahead of the safety of American citizens? It would seem so.
Quoting the Post article: “Saturday was an appropriate moment to air such grievances. The day before, President Obama had opened the White House doors to Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who had just completed her recovery from Ebola at the National Institutes of Health. Prior to the session, the White House announced that still photographers would be allowed to document the proceedings. But print reporters and TV cameras would be out in the cold. At a briefing with White House press secretary Josh Earnest, Karl asked why. Earnest responded that “many of you did have the opportunity to see [Pham] deliver remarks at the NIH upon her departure from the hospital.”
Karl: “That’s not answering the question. Why was this decision made?”
Earnest: “Because reporters did have the opportunity to see her speak already.” Also, the press secretary said that neither President Obama nor Pham planned on making any comments at the event. Taken together, those explanations amount to a lump of nothing.”
The reasons for imposing such tight restrictions are clear. The White House was not about to take the chance that a tough question might be asked, or there might be an embarrassing moment at a media event that was designed to make Obama appear in control of the situation. Optics and theatrics are more important to the president than substance.
The Post article continues: “Talev said Saturday that it was ‘ridiculous’ the White House didn’t provide full media access to the Pham-Obama meeting. In a Friday afternoon chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, recently retired ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton struggled to fathom the rationale for restricting access, given that the White House has been aggressive in sending the message that it’s fighting Ebola: ‘She’s been in government medical care for the last how many days?’ notes Compton. ‘And she walks out unexpectedly looking terrific — why wouldn’t you want the world to see that the U.S. is doing what the White House has said? So today makes no sense to me.'”
Of course, many journalists are happy to carry Obama’s water. They gleefully cheer him on and write whatever the White House asks them to write, anything to cast the president in a good light, and to make him appear to be everything he is not. A true leader. A president who puts America and its citizens first. Any serious observer sees through the illusion conjured up by a mostly compliant, cowardly media that defends this president’s unconstitutional and downright illegal actions. Were this a conservative president, he would have been impeached and run out of office on a rail a long time ago.
At least we can be thankful that some journalists are beginning to speak out. The only question is, what took you so long?