CHARLOTTE, N.C., August 18, 2014 — When the “New York Times” challenges Barack Obama, or any other liberal, it is news.
When a NYT journalist says the president is “no friend of press freedom,” that is even bigger news.
That Obama is no friend of the media isn’t news. Butt when the president gets into the short hairs of liberal media, then it gets reported.
Reporter James Risen of the Times told his paper in a profile, “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”
Imagine that: An epiphany from a journalist who writes for a liberal newspaper. Where has he been for the past six years?
Of course, you must understand that Risen is also a victim of presidential prejudices so that does carry a significant amount of weight when it comes to the source of his complaint.
Risen wrote a book in 2006 titled “State of War” in which he published classified information about a CIA plot that failed to eliminate the nuclear program in Iran. George W. Bush was still in office at the time, and the Bush administration subpoenaed Risen to reveal his sources.
Risen refused, claiming journalistic immunity and fought the subpoena until 2009 when it expired.
Journalists walk a fine line between the public’s right to know and the government’s need to maintain secrecy in order to preserve American security while covert operations are in progress. Reporters who cross that line often face harsh repercussions from the White House.
In most cases, much of what is legitimately classified and what is not is also part of a nebulous boundary. Much of how the media cooperates with the administration has to do with White House credibility and “honesty.” Certainly no presidency is totally without its secrets, but some leaders command more respect than others when it comes to delicate matters of state.
In stating that many people “think this is some kind of game or signal or spin,” Risen certainly hit Barack Obama between the eyes because the current president is a master of gamesmanship.
So adept has the president become at thinking everything is a game, that the only important thing that ever happens in his world takes place on the golf course.
Risen was shocked when the most “transparent presidency in history” muddied the scene by renewing the subpoena in 2010. He appealed and the Supreme Court rejected it.
Without further options, Risen now faces the possibility of jail if Attorney General Eric Holder continues the battle against the reporter’s sources. Whatever decision is made by Holder and Obama, it will be the one that is most politically advantageous to the administration. That is a given.
Once more Obama’s transparency has been clouded. It won’t be the last time.
In Risen’s case however, there is an interesting twist. On the surface, it appears the government has won. Further inspection shows the Obama administration faces a difficult decision in light of the upcoming mid-term elections.
Obama can either force Risen to testify and send him to jail, or he can reverse his decision and lose credibility with the intelligence community.
Somewhere amid the riots in Ferguson, the Middle East muddle and the myriad scandals surrounding the White House, Obama will figure out something. In the process, if asked about it, no matter what he decides, he will rationalize it eloquently as he always does.
It is merely one of the games Obama likes to play in a presidency that consists of nothing more than making it through one day to get to the next.
And if a little luxury happens for the Obamas et al. along the way, so much the better. It’s good to be the president.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News
Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod