Kirsten Powers posted an article at the Daily Beast today entitled, “How Hope and Change Gave Way To Spying on the Press.” She does a very good job of explaining how we got from hope and change to threatening James Rosen with criminal prosecution for investigative reporting. Brit Hume pointed out on Special Report last night that in the past when the government pursued a leak, they prosecuted the leaker–not the reporter. It is very unusual to threaten to prosecute the reporter. I also should mention that the government’s invasion of Mr. Rosen’s privacy during this investigation is stunning.
So how did we get here?
Kirsten Powers explains:
It was 2009, and the new administration decided it was appropriate to use the prestige of the White House to viciously attack a news organization – Fox News – and the journalists who work there. Remember, they had barely been in office and had enjoyed the most laudatory press of any new president in modern history. Yet, even one outlet that allowed dissent or criticism of President Obama was one too many. This should have been a red flag to everyone, regardless of what they thought of Fox News. The math was simple: if they would abuse their power to try and intimidate one media outlet, what made anyone think they weren’t next?
The article relates the various comments by administration spokesmen that Fox News was not a valid news outlet. It also points out that only one journalist questioned what was going on:
Yet only one mainstream media reporter – Jake Tapper, then of ABC News – ever raised a serious objection to the White House’s egregious and chilling behavior. Tapper asked future MSNBC commentator and then White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “[W]hy is [it] appropriate for the White House to say” that “thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a ‘news organization’?” The spokesman for the president of the United States was unrepentant, saying: “That’s our opinion.”
Obviously, they are entitled to their opinion. What they are not entitled to is to use the power of the government against a news organization that does not agree with everything they are doing.
The article goes on to cite the latest example of the White House targeting those news reporters that do not agree with their politics. Media Matters, a Democratic advocacy group, has launched a smear campaign against Jonathan Karl after his recent reporting on Benghazi. A group called Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has referred to Jonathan Karl as “a right wing mole at ABC News.” If you don’t tow the line, you must be a right wing mole. Right.
Kirsten Power rightfully concludes:
What all of us in the media need to remember – whatever our politics – is that we need to hold government actions to the same standard, whether they’re aimed at friends or foes. If not, there’s no one but ourselves to blame when the administration takes aim at us.