May 29, 2013
Media outlets and journalists have finally awakened to the serious threat posed by the Obama administration to press freedoms, whistle blowing and transparency. Apparently, what was necessary for them to be prodded out of their slumber was watching people they perceive as “one of them” have their emails secretly seized and be accused of serious felonies. The question now: what, if anything, will they do to defend the press freedoms they claim to value? By design, there are many options the press corps has for thwarting government attacks like these. Doing so requires a real adversary posture, renouncing their subservience to government interests and fear of alienating official sources. It remains to be seen whether any of that will happen.
What is clear is that, after the AP and especially the Fox/Rosen revelations, a real tipping point has been reached in establishment media circles in terms of how all of this is discussed. One now regularly encounters in the most mainstream circles rhetoric that, a short time ago, was the province of a small number of critics.
The New York Times editorial page warned last week that “the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that the Obama DOJ is “treat[ing] a reporter as a criminal for doing his job” and is thus “as flagrant an assault on civil liberties as anything done by George W. Bush’s administration, and it uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of.”