If you were viewing or listening to CNN’s Reliable Sources recently, you would have heard the New York Times National Security reporter James Risen say this: ” I think this administration has been the most secretive since the Nixon administration. They’ve been the most anti-press administration since the Nixon administration.”
That will strike many, including me as hyperbole, but then again few have been under the sustained pressure that Risen was from the Justice Department to reveal information or identify a key source.
For his part, the then Attorney General Eric Holder told David Axelrod on his Axe File podcast https://goo.gl/st9to0 that he thought that “he’d handled the case well”; that they acted appropriately, “got what they wanted”to prosecute the case but”protected the unique role” of Risen and the press. Risen’s executive editor, Dean Baquet pointed out in an NPR interview that Obama was generally thought of as “friendly to the press” but had “dramatically increased the number of journalists who got subpoenaed and dramatically increased the number of leak investigations.”
So while we brace ourselves for the Trump administration and prepare for more of his bullying and flogging of the press, we should be mindful of Obama’s flawed record regarding press freedom.
But Trump won’t have to worry about the relentless 24/7 battering Obama took from Fox News and Talk Radio hosts around the country led by Rush Limbaugh. In his mostly relaxed and often candid Axe File podcast conversation with his old campaign strategist David Axelrod, Obama brought up Fox News and its now disgraced founder Roger Ailes along with Limbaugh and the NRA as “mediators” whose mission it was to reverse any and all of Obama’s liberal agenda, especially anything that played to gun-toting Americans’ fears that he wanted to seize their guns and take away their Second Amendment rights. Whenever I have returned to the U.S. during the Obama presidency and immersed myself in American Cable News media and Talk Radio, I have never ceased to be amazed at how vicious and racist the coverage has been. I happened to be in Washington working when the Affordable Care Act was being debated. Talk Radio hosts and their clueless listeners kept referring to Obama as a Socialist who wasn’t even a real American.
Obama doesn’t seem reconciled to letting these reactionary and hate-mongering forces prevail. He’s got them on his ” do list” once he leaves the White House: “…..part of what I’ve struggled with during my presidency and part of what I think I’ll be thinking a lot about after my presidency is how do we work around all these filters? And it becomes more complicated now that you’ve got social media, where people are getting news that reinforces their biases and — and separates people out instead of bringing them together.