Free Press: Is the U.S. really still the leader of the Free World? A string of attacks on the press by the White House press office is starting to add up to more than hostility to individual outlets. It's raising freedom-of-speech issues.
All of which is ironic, given the fawning coverage President Obama has received. Alas, it's likely that a corrupted press — from the JournoList collaboration of media and political operatives to ABC's rollover of its schedule for Obama are at the root of the growing hostility toward a free, independent and balanced Fourth Estate.
With an amen corner, the president's men launched unprecedented attacks, starting with media dissidents such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Now the White House press office is growing bolder.
Last month in Florida, a reporter was stuffed into a closet by a staffer of Vice President Joe Biden to keep him from talking to donors. The reporter's newspaper pretty well rolled over and said, no big deal.
Then the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci was threatened with exile from the press pool by the White House press staff for shooting video of loony leftist protesters who turned up at a presidential fundraiser. The paper, to its credit, protested.
The muscle didn't stop with the big press outlets. The Pleasanton (Calif.) Weekly said it got a phone call from the White House complaining that the paper's coverage of Michelle Obama was unflattering and asked them to remove the reference. The newspaper gave in.
Other reporters subject to other kinds of meddling have put their experiences on Twitter. "Did a former top (White House) official pointedly inform me that he does not care for my coverage of the Obama budget? Yup," tweeted Reuters columnist (and former IBD staffer) James Pethokoukis on May 4.
"And with that, the press was shooed out of the room. And the (White House) even cut off my audio feed. How rude," tweeted CBS' Mark Knoller on May 2.
How many more instances have there been or will there be? Just these amount to an unprecedented effort to strong-arm the free press. In trying to dictate the news, White House officials are acting like strongmen from hellholes such as Venezuela and Ecuador.
And when will the media stop putting up with it? If they'd stop with the fawning, they might see the threat to their duty to tell the truth and start fighting back.