Thomas Gallatin / February 21, 2017

Remember Obama’s War on the Press

He is the one to blame for undermining the freedom of the press, not Trump.

In 2009, newly elected Barack Obama infamously stated that his administration would be the “most transparent in American history.” It didn’t take long before the press discovered this boast to be nothing more than a smokescreen talking point. State it, repeat it and get enough people believing it for it to be effective propaganda. Obama did this with a lot of issues.

By no means was Obama’s administration the “most” transparent; in fact, it might better be described as the most opaque. Leonard Downie Jr., former Washington Post executive director, described in a 2013 Committee to Protect Journalists report that the Obama “administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration.” David Sanger, the National Security Correspondent for the New York Times, stated, “This [Obama administration] is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered.”

During Obama’s time in office more people were prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined. It was so bad that the New York Times’ chief counsel described Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers as, “Worse than Nixon. He thinks that anyone who leaks is a spy! I mean, it’s cuckoo.”

In 2011, Obama created an Insider Threat Task Force that was designed to track down internal leakers. It got so bad that Cameron Barr of The Washington Post said, “Reporters are interviewing sources through intermediaries now so the sources can truthfully answer on polygraphs that they didn’t talk to reporters.”

Obama effectively fought against the press on three fronts: his crack-down on leaks and whistleblowers, his constant legal battles to prevent the release of information, and the scope of the NSA spying that had a chilling effect on journalists’ sources.

So, while the mainstream media is pulling their collective hair out over the recent tongue lashing they received from Trump, his actions pale in comparison to the truly threatening manner in which Obama went about dealing with the press. In a very real way, he scared would-be investigative opposition into silence.

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