There is deep and growing concern over the ongoing attacks on freedom of speech and the recurring assaults on the press by the Obama Administration. The attempt to place federal monitors in newsrooms, the surrender of internet control to an international body with members favoring censorship, the “bugging” of reporter’s phones, the proposal to limit First Amendment rights in campaigns and other actions add to a significant chilling effect on this most basic and fundamental of American individual liberties.
The latest White House moves to prevent photos and interviews at sites where the huge influx of illegal aliens are being held is the most recent example.
After five-plus years of being tolerant of this deeply worrisome behavior, some journalists have finally become sufficiently offended at this unacceptable behavior—this “fundamental change” in the relationship between the press and the White House—that they are publicly reacting.
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has sent a letter of protest to the White House, angered that the Administration has engaged in “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies.”
According to the SPJ, “Journalists are reporting that most federal agencies prohibit their employees from communicating with the press unless the bosses have public relations staffers sitting in on the conversations. Contact is often blocked completely. When public affairs officers speak, even about routine public matters, they often do so confidentially in spite of having the title ‘spokesperson.’ Reporters seeking interviews are expected to seek permission, often providing questions in advance. Delays can stretch for days, longer than most deadlines allow. Public affairs officers might send their own written responses of slick non-answers. Agencies hold on-background press conferences with unnamed officials, on a not-for-attribution basis.”
This contrasts sharply with practices of prior administrations, when reporters interacted with executive branch staff with relative ease, with restrictions mostly tied to national security-related information.
The reasons for the White House’s extraordinary reticence are not difficult to discern. Despite an exceptionally sympathetic media, its unparalleled record of failure in domestic and foreign affairs is undeniable.
Russia and China are engaging in dramatic military buildups and both have demonstrated no reluctance to openly use their armed might to invade, steal resources, and threaten their neighbors. Clearly, Mr. Obama’s “reset” concessions have backfired, emboldening these two powers to act more belligerently.
The Middle East is now deeper under the influence of terrorist groups than it was prior to when this Administration came into office.
Several Latin American nations, led by Venezuela, are now openly cooperating with Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and terrorist forces and opening up an unprecedented military challenge on our southern border, taking advantage of America’s diminished presence and the weakened state of the U.S. military.
America’s allies are increasingly estranged. Examples include Mr. Obama violating the U.K.’s trust in a vital arms negotiating matter, and the shabby treatment of Israel. His dramatic withdrawal of American armored forces from Europe has led to Germany’s increased flirtation with Moscow.
Economically, despite the fudging of numbers, Americans clearly are making less, are employed less, and paying higher prices than before this Administration came into being. Besieged by excessive regulations of questionable constitutional legality and the planet’s highest corporate tax rate, businesses are refraining from investing in more employment or expansion.
Unexpectedly, race relations, once thought to be on the way to being significantly improved thanks to the election of the first black president, have deteriorated, in no small measure due to the White House’s unsavory practice of exploiting racial division for partisan gain and absurdly tying legitimate criticism of its policies to imagined racism.
Now in its sixth year, Mr. Obama’s safety valve excuse of blaming everything on the prior administration no longer can be taken seriously; indeed, that practice has been a subject comics have lately dwelt on.
Rather than reverse course and attempt to correct these errors, the Administration’s response has been a fairly successful (until now) attempt to manage the news through limiting access to sources, punishing, intimidating, and ridiculing those that don’t fall into line.
In its scope and extent, President Obama’s intentional interference with the First Amendment is unprecedented.