A new report issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) asserts that the Obama White House is the most insular in decades, and the worst since the Nixon Administration for its secrecy and lack of transparency. The report was based on interviews with upper echelon Washington reporters and news organization chiefs.
Even New York Times Washington correspondent David Sanger admitted, “This is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered.”
The study examined the Obama Administration’s fight with Edward Snowden, its “Insider Threat Program” that encourages government employees to spy on other’s behavior, and the lack of transparency shown by the administration.
Other factors leading to the journalists’ conclusions included the Justice Department’s subpoenas of reporters’ phone logs and emails; the invasion of Associated Press phone records; and the White House’s charge that a Fox News reporter was an “aider, abettor and/or conspirator” of an indicted leaker who had been charged.
Many of the top journalists claimed that “officials are reluctant to discuss even unclassified information with them because they fear that leak investigations and government surveillance make it more difficult for reporters to protect them as sources.” R. Jeffrey Smith explained, “I worry now about calling somebody because the contact can be found out through a check of phone records or emails. It leaves a digital trail that makes it easier for the government to monitor those contacts.”
Other quotes from reporters included one saying that the Obama administration’s attitude toward the press was a “real problem,” and another stating that the Obama White House smacks of “unprecedented secrecy and unprecedented attacks on the press.”
Of course, the White House crew went into denial mode in the report; Press Secretary Jay Carney said that “the idea that people are shutting up and not leaking to reporters is belied by the facts.” National security adviser Ben Rhodes echoed, “We make an effort to communicate about national security issues in on-the-record and background briefings by sanctioned sources. And we still see investigative reporting from non-sanctioned sources with lots of unclassified information and some sensitive information.”