Civil Liberties

Obama is 'the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation,' says Targeted New York Times Reporter


Obama sulk
White House

"They don't want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He's the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation," the New York Times' James Risen tells his colleague, Maureen Dowd, in a piece published yesterday. This comes after years of targeting by first the Bush, and especially the Obama administrations, for revealing CIA bungling in Iran. The feds want to know his sources; he won't tell. And so the feds continue to lean on him, using powers derived from a peculiar interpretation of the Espionage Act of 1917.

Risen's assessment is hardly unique. Earlier this year, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression hit the Obama administration with three muzzle awards, in part for its persecution of journalists who expose information in ways that government officials find inconvenient.

Earlier in the year, the United States slid 13 spots on rankings of press freedom compiled by Reporters Without Borders. It was "one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks," the group announced.

And last year, David E. Sanger, veteran chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times, said of the Obama administration, "This is the most closed, control freak administration I've ever covered." That quote appeared in a report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which featured more criticisms along exactly those lines.

Could be, the current occupant of the White House is doing something just a tad wrong when it comes to free speech and a free press.