HOUSTON, October 11, 2013 - President Obama lives with a degree of luxury that few politicians have enjoyed: a completely servile media that refuses to ask him and members of his administration even the very basic of questions.
Instead, the mainstream media much more often compliantly gobbles down every talking point he spews and goes to bat for his administration whenever called upon. There are many reasons for this special treatment that go beyond the fact that Obama is a black, progressive Democrat. Obama has taken a page straight out of other failed tyrant’s throughout history who have wanted to either buy off or intimidate the media into reporting what is demanded by the dictator.
Hampered by that darned First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press, Obama hasn’t had the ability to officially nationalize the media, but he has effectively done so using a cache of different techniques such as: providing jobs and benefits to journalists who do as they are told, punishing those who disobey, and intimidating the media’s sources to an unprecedented degree, never before seen in the history of our formerly free country.
The extremely chilling effect of the culture of complete surveillance this administration enforces against all private citizens including the NSA’s monitoring and collection of all private emails and phone records, and the President’s usage of the IRS as his personal KGB to attack his political enemies should also be of huge concern to any journalist contemplating publishing anything that doesn’t shower this administration with praise. Despots and dictators the world over would be proud of Obama’s co-opt of the media in what once was a Constitutional republic.
First, Obama has initiated a quid-pro-quo program with journalists who do as they are told. His administration, as reported by Breitbart, has directly hired between 15 and 19 journalists from such quasi-news agencies as: CBS, CNN, Time Magazine, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Los Angelos Times. This sends the message to other journalists that if they tow the line, and ask nicely with their hands out, they may too be rewarded.
Unfortunately for him, Obama can’t hire every journalist. So, he came up with an even better idea: give jobs in his administration to someone very close to high powered journalists. According to Breitbart, this is exactly what he has done: the brother of the current president of CBS News is a national security advisor to Obama; Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, is married to a senior correspondent at ABC News; the sister of the president of ABC News is a special advisor to Obama; and, the Vice President at CNN is married to a Deputy Secretary of State. Finally, Obama hired Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, as the head of the President’s “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness” in January of 2011. In what amounted to be a striking coincidence, GE owned 51% of NBC News at the time.
In addition to handing out perks and benefits to journalists that follow his orders, Obama has viciously punished those who disobey him. There are two main tactics he has utilized: First, the intimidation of journalists’ sources so as to discourage sources from speaking with journalists and secondly, the direct punishment of journalists themselves. These two tactics are intimately related.
According to ABC News, a group called “The Committee to Protect Journalists,” which advocates for freedom of the press in countries that greatly restrict the press, just finished conducting its first study of U.S. Press freedoms. It found that: “The U.S. government’s aggressive prosecution of leaks and efforts to control information are having a chilling effect on journalists and government whistle-blowers.” The main author, Leonard Downie, Jr. is a former executive editor at The Washinton Post.
A main utensil of the administration is the 1917 Espionage Act, designed to prosecute spies from the WWI era. The same ABC article indicated that since 2009 “six government employees and two contractors have been targeted for prosecution under the 1917 Espionage Act for accusations that they leaked classified information to the press. There were just three such prosecutions under all previous U.S. Presidents.”
Relying on the 1917 Espionage Act, this administration has used the phone and e-mail records of government officials and reporters, unbeknownst to them, in the prosecution of sources who have leaked information that Obama does not approve of.
Leonard Downie, detailing the findings of the Committee to Protect Journalists report in The Washington Post , cited the following examples: “The Justice Department secretly subpoenaed and seized from telephone companies two months of records for 20 AP phone lines and switchboards used by more than 100 reporters in four of its news bureaus. In other criminal leak investigations, the Obama administration has subpoenaed and seized records of telephone calls and e-mails between several New York Times reporters and government officials, between a Fox News reporter and a State Department contract analyst, and between two journalists and a former CIA officer.”
The administration does not find it necessary to inform the journalists whose records have been seized, and then uses the information from those records to prosecute their sources. Downie’s article quotes numerous journalists from the AP, New York Times and other news agencies as being very concerned about the extreme surveillance tactics this administration uses.
In a shocking revelation, Downie revealed that the Obama administration frequently uses lie detector tests on federal employees if the administration believes the employee could’ve leaked unauthorized information.
In one final iron-fisted tactic, Obama has initiated a program at all federal agencies that is lifted straight out of the novel, 1984 by George Orwell. According to a presidential memorandum from Obama dated last November , the “Insider Threat Program” requires all employees of federal agencies to monitor their fellow employees for the disclosure of unauthorized information, including to the media. The program requires other employees to monitor and turn in their fellow employees, under the threat of penalty, and sometimes the threat of criminal prosecution.
Leonard Downie summed up the Committee’s findings as follows: “In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate.”
Saul Alinsky, and one of Mr. Alinsky’s role models, Joseph Goebbels, would be very proud of the great steps the Obama administration has taken to destroy the freedom of the press, Mr. President.
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