How Mr. Obama Seized the Free Press

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Branco cartoon via Conservative Daily News

Mr. Obama is, as Politico once wrote, the “puppet master” who has “taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). And it’s an equal opportunity strategy: Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access.”

“The results are transformational,” Politico continued. “With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly.

News this week that a CBS news anchor, Catherine Anaya,  spoke about an off-the-record meeting with Jay Carney in which she innocently said that questions reporters ask are provided to Carney in advance unless it’s something breaking, wasn’t news at all. We’ve come to expect that type of manipulation by the Administration.

She unsurprisingly took it back after Jay Carney denied it. She said she was only referring to herself. She continued to insist that she was asked for her questions in advance.

Many respected reporters claimed it doesn’t happen and that this reporter was wrong, but was she?

THE NY TIMES ADMITS TO BEING MANIPULATED

In July 2012, the NY Times said that reporters interviews to campaign officials are predicated on the requirement that the White House “press office gets veto power over what statements can be quoted and attributed by name.”

“The quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative,” the NY Times reported.

After the interviews the Times admitted that “they review their notes, check their tape recorders and send in the juiciest sound bites for review.” “Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign,” the Times wrote.

It’s not only the White House, it has become a common politician’s practice. Even the Treasury demands quote approval.

Those who did speak on the record said the restrictions seem only to be growing. “It’s not something I’m particularly proud of because there’s a part of me that says, ‘Don’t do it, don’t agree to their terms,’ ” said Major Garrett, a correspondent for The National Journal. “There are times when this feels like I’m dealing with some of my editors. It’s like, ‘You just changed this because you could!’ ”

Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all agreed to interviews under such terms.

SOME ARE FAVORED

The White House routinely gives their talking points to Democratic legislators and advocacy groups before speeches. It’s the liberals who get them.

Organizations like the far-left Media Matters have shadowy ties to the White House. Media Matters, if you remember, launched the war on Fox.

“They have this relationship with the White House,” Sean Hannity said on his TV show, citing a Daily Caller report.. “And they meet with Valerie Jarrett and other White House representatives once a week. Does that mean that they ever corroborated, discussed, collaborated on the issue of this enemy’s list?”

Contributor Kirsten Powers said there is no evidence that this is the case but did admit they are targeting Fox employees: “Unless you can tell me in terms of targeting Fox News employees, which I think is probably the most despicable thing that came out of this…don’t we need to find out what happened? Monitoring the media is perfectly fine, and they didn’t do anything wrong and in fact they were very successful.”

Kirsten Powers then went on to say that “Meeting with them doesn’t suggest they were sitting down and colluding over –” Powers countered.

“I would think a weekly conference call does,” Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson interjected.

In March 2013, the White House was caught holding a private and secret off-the-record press briefing with about 14 hand-selected reporters. The meeting took place after the abc News report on Benghazi was released.

That report exposed the twelve substantive changes made to the Talking Points before Susan Rice regurgitated them on the Sunday talk shows after the Tuesday attack.

This technique for manipulating the message to the public has been done before.

SOME ARE BULLIED AND THREATENED

We know the White House has bullied and threatened the press, even using the power of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to silence them.

Mr. Obama’s DOJ has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the presidents since FDR combined. DOJ Eric Holder has prosecuted our own CIA officials, lawyers in the Bush administration, and whistle blowers as spies, making no distinction between speaking with reporters and spying on our government. Bloomberg reported that he has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined.

At the same time, the White House has leaked secrets it finds is in their best interests such as secret bases held by Israel and the UK . The White House leaked Stuxnet.

The DOJ spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen and even named him as a co-conspirator in a leak case for the purpose of obtaining a secret court order to spy on him and his family.

The White House was able to spy on the AP by misusing a subpoena. The spying had the effect of drying up many of the AP reporters’ sources.

There is also the James Risen case. The Obama Administration attempted to force him to name his sources in yet another whistleblower case.

Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post referenced several stories of bullying by the White House in one of her columns. Rubin wrote that reporters Woodward, Founier, and others were all beaten down with verbal threats and abusive language by White House officials. She mentioned one case that concerned Lanny Davis.

Lanny Davis, a serious liberal, wrote something in The Washington Times that displeased the Obama Administration. John Solomon, the editor at the Washington Times, received a phone call threatening to remove the newspaper’s White House credentials unless Lanny Davis’ column was discontinued.”

Others were threatened, including the White House press corps. “This is a warning shot over the bow of the White House press corps. ‘Don’t screw with us. Look what we are doing to your God, Woodward. Imagine what we’ll do to you.’”

The reference to Woodward followed Woodward’s assertion in his book The Price of Politics and in the Washington Post that Obama admitted sequester was his idea. This was at a time when Jay Carney was claiming that it was not Obama’s idea.

A very senior official threatened Woodward. ”It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this,” Woodward said.

The Washington Post, which took on the issue of White House bullying. They shoot first and ask questions later,” said reporter Julie Mason. “In one of the e-mails that reporters have dubbed “nasty grams,” White House press secretary Jay Carney branded one of Mason’s stories ‘partisan, inflammatory and tendentious.’”

And there is this from Carl Cannon:

Carl Cannon, a longtime political journalist who is the Washington editor of the Web site Real Clear Politics, says he recently got zinged. After his site posted a headline and video of President Obama promoting a political fundraising raffle at the White House in June — which Republicans said could be a violation of campaign-finance law — Cannon heard about it in no uncertain terms. A deputy press official let loose “a screaming, profane diatribe that lasted two or three phone calls,” Cannon recalled. “It hurt my ear.”

Bob Beckel, another very serious liberal, who once served as Jimmy Carter’s Chief of Staff, told Bill Hemmer on Fox News back in October that someone in the White House told him to stop talking about delaying the implementation of Obamacare.

Beckel: “The other day on The Five I called for a delay for the implementation of this for five months or six months to a year. And I got a call from somebody at the White House who absolutely bludgeoned me over it…“

This is the exchange:

One case of White House bullying was particularly reprehensible. The White House tried to bully Fox News into not reporting on Benghazi according to Greta Van Susteren writing in a post on her website  Gretawire:

After Benghazi on 9/11/2012, the Obama administration tried very hard to discourage Fox News Channel from reporting on it.  The effort was obstruction – pure and simple.

They tried to prevent the truth from coming out and the Administration tried just about everything to discourage Fox from investigating and reporting.

All the American people wanted, and all I ever wanted, was just the facts – why did 4 Americans die?  What happened?

THE QUESTIONABLE RELATIONSHIPS

Then there are all the incestuous relationships built between the White House and the major media outlets.

CBS News President David Rhodes’ brother is Obama Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. Ben Rhodes, according to ABC News was instrumental in changing the Talking Points. He does not have foreign policy or military experience and yet he advises the president on national security.ABC News president Ben Sherwood’s sister, Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, is Special Assistant to Barack Obama on national security affairs.CNN’s deputy bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is the wife of Tom Nides who was Hillary Clinton’s deputy until February.

The press who walk the walk and talk the talk are invited to the key meetings and they attend the White House parties.

The press can’t even take official photos, not even the AP, only the White House photographers can. Michelle Obama and her daughters are in China and not one reporter could accompany them and none can quote her, despite the fact that she is using tax dollars to take the trip.

IN CLOSING

Politico, a decidedly left-wing news outlet online, wrote a scathing article in February of last year titled, “Obama, the puppet master.”

To quote again from thIS same Politico article referenced at the beginning of this post:

President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House…the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach.

Mr. Obama has made himself largely unavailable to the press though he gives choreographed speeches every day and he runs the most nontransparent government ever.

Catherine Anaya took her comments back. If she wants to keep her job, she had little choice. She doubled-down, however, on being asked to provide her question in advance but had no trouble with it. It was her mistake she said, but was it? If nothing else, it brought up an important problem with our media under President Obama.

Do we have a free press and is this what the Founding Fathers intended?

The Founding Fathers put the press in a position to serve as watchdogs of the government. This is another freedom and protection we are losing.

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