Last February, President Obama bragged that he oversaw "the most transparent administration in history."
"I can document that this is the case," he explained. "Every visitor that comes into the White House is now part of the public record. Every law we pass and every rule we implement we put online for everyone to see."
Results of his five-plus years in office suggest otherwise. This administration has been anything but forthcoming with information, from the stonewalling over the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that resulted in four Americans deaths, to the gunwalking scandal known as Fast and Furious, to the targeting of conservatives by the IRS, to America's drone strike program targeting terrorist suspects abroad, to the Obamacare web site disaster.
Obama did admit there are "a handful of issues, mostly surrounding national security," that require some confidentiality. That's like calling the host of problems surrounding the current Obamacare fiasco "a glitch."
According to a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Obama administration has been actively discouraging disclosures to the public at an unprecedented level, including its spying on officials to deter contact with journalists to its prosecuting of leakers.
In "The Obama Administration and the Press," Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, writes:
In the Obama administration's Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records. An 'Insider Threat Program' being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues.
David E. Sanger, veteran chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times, told Downie the Obama regime is "the most closed, control freak administration I've ever covered."
The government's secrecy over the drone program is one example. It took the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the U.K., not the American media, to reveal that within "the first three years after Obama took office, between 285 and 535 civilians were credibly reported killed by drone strikes, including more than 60 children."
One of the thorns constantly sticking it to the thin-skinned Obama administration is Fox News. The grilling of press secretary Jay Carney by Fox reporters like Ed Henry and national security correspondent James Rosen during press briefings is the kind of tough journalism Americans should expect from the media.
Last week, when Henry was snubbed by Carney from asking a question, it was the first time in memory that a Fox News reporter wasn't called on at a daily briefing.
"There's a long tradition among network correspondents that cover the White House of asking presidents of both parties challenging questions," said Brit Hume, a veteran political commentator. "They may sympathize with the president, but they ask challenging questions."
When James Rosen questioned Carney on Benghazi at last Thursday's daily briefing, Carney accused Rosen of "creating an exchange for Fox."
"What we are engaged in here is for the record, not for Fox," Rosen shot back.
Carney ended the testy exchange by saying, "James, I think we're done here. Thank you," and walked away.
The American people should expect a free and independent press to question and demand answers from its government officials and not the kind of soft tosses served up by the liberal media over the last five years.
By Jim Zbick