At least when it comes to the overreaching Department of Justice leak investigations, President Obama has finally lost one of his biggest fans, The New York Times. In a Wednesday editorial written by the full editorial board, the Times said it was a threat “to fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news” when the Obama administration labeled a Fox News reporter a “co-conspirator” in a criminal investigation.
Well, no kidding.
The editorial is titled “Another Chilling Leak Investigation,” and doesn’t hide its disgust with an administration willing to criminalize everyday news-gathering as an excuse to seize a reporter’s emails, phone records, and even the phone records belonging to his parents.
This is a major problem for a president, who up till now has enjoyed the most fawning press coverage in the history of the Republic. What Obama has on his hands here is a woman scorned, a lover betrayed. This morning on MSNBC, Chuck Todd accused the White House of “criminalizing journalism.”
The only thing shocking is that the media is shocked by this kind of behavior coming from a politician marinated in Chicago politics and with a history of engaging in the worst kind of political skullduggery. It is the classic frog and the scorpion tale. Now the media is stung, confused, bewildered, and angry at a lover they cherished but who still treats them as the enemy.
The only question now is what will happen next. Will the media redouble their efforts to win Obama’s affection? Or will the media begin to earn Obama’s respect (at the expense of his affection) by finally doing their jobs — and not just by complaining about these leak investigations, but by demanding and reporting on the full and complete truth behind the Libya and IRS scandals as well.
A free press is vital to the health of a democracy, but what good is that freedom if the press refuses to take full advantage of those freedoms?
For five years, our media has acted as a Palace Guard instead of a Free Press. The ripple effect can already be seen in this trifecta of scandals, all of which occurred last year under the nose of a media too distracted in their roles as campaign arms of Obama’s reelection.
What is especially galling is that the media knew about Libya and the IRS last year but chose to downplay and ignore those scandals in order to protect the president’s reelection chances.
The New York Times is especially guilty. Their response to Tea Party groups complaining about the IRS’s paralyzing harassment was to publish an editorial defending and endorsing that harassment.
Note to media: It is never too late to redeem yourselves.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC