Intimidating The Press

Yesterday Peter Wehner at Commentary posted an article about the recent dust-up between President Obama’s White House and the press. He cites an article in the National Journal posted on Thursday and written by Ron Fournier. Mr. Fournier details some of his encounters with an official in the Obama White House.

The article at National Journal reports:

As editor-in-chief of National Journal, I received several e-mails and telephone calls from this White House official filled with vulgarity, abusive language, and virtually the same phrase that Politico characterized as a veiled threat. “You will regret staking out that claim,” The Washington Post reporter was told.

Once I moved back to daily reporting this year, the badgering intensified. I wrote Saturday night, asking the official to stop e-mailing me. The official wrote, challenging Woodward and my tweet. “Get off your high horse and assess the facts, Ron,” the official wrote.

Mr. Fournier responded with the following:

“I asked you to stop e-mailing me. All future e-mails from you will be on the record — publishable at my discretion and directly attributed to you. My cell-phone number is … . If you should decide you have anything constructive to share, you can try to reach me by phone. All of our conversations will also be on the record, publishable at my discretion and directly attributed to you.”

He has not heard from the official since. Cockroaches scatter when you turn on the light.

Mr. Fournier concludes at the end of his article:

This can’t be what Obama wants. He must not know how thin-skinned and close-minded his staff can be to criticism.

Peter Wehner at Commentary has a different conclusion:

I actually believe this conduct can be what Mr. Obama wants. He is himself quite thin-skinned and closed-minded, so it makes perfect sense for his staff to be as well. And while the press coverage they get often ranges from favorable to fawning, it is never good enough for them. The job of intimidation is a full-time one, after all, and it clearly works with some journalists.

One of the extraordinary talents the president has is projecting an image of decency and civility while giving home to staffers who are known for being abusive and threatening.

It’s perfectly appropriate to judge a president by his White House staff. And Ron Fournier has done us the favor of lifting the curtain, just a bit, on this one.

I truly believe that we currently have a White House full of Chicago thugs.

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