One of the assertions continually made by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at yesterday’s press briefing regarding the AP Spying scandal was that President Obama believed in “unfettered” investigative journalism. The evidence Carney offered for this assertion was Obama’s support for a shield law that died in 2010.
The problem? Obama did not support that law.
NPR’s Ari Shapiro asked Carney to square Obama’s belief in an unfettered press with the fact that he has prosecuted twice as many leakers as all previous administrations combined.
Carney said Obama’s love of press freedom “is backed up by his support for a media shield law.” This would be the shield law that died in Congress in 2010 because of Obama’s objections.
Woops. Not sure who screwed up in the press shop researching this or maybe Carney panicked or maybe this was a delaying tactic. But, in any case, the Obama Administration did not support the shield law Press Secretary Carney referenced, it opposed it.
The Obama administration has told lawmakers that it opposes legislation that could protect reporters from being imprisoned if they refuse to disclose confidential sources who leak material about national security, according to several people involved with the negotiations.
The administration this week sent to Congress sweeping revisions to a “media shield” bill that would significantly weaken its protections against forcing reporters to testify…
“This is the question I would have to ask, ‘Do they really want a bill?’ ” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “It doesn’t appear that they do.”
So Carney meant they supported a different version of the bill? They were for it before they were against it? Or what? This is not exactly great evidence for a belief in “unfettered investigative journalism” and certainly not evidence that Obama opposes what his Department of Justice did to the Associated Press.
The reality is the Obama Administration has never been a champion for civil liberties. The Obama Administration has continued Bush policies and even expanded them into killing American citizens without due process. Not to mention the war on whistleblowers, which the AP spying scandal is part of. Obama’s defenders – inside and outside government – should stick to the facts and not dishonestly portray Obama as something he is not – someone who believes in unfettered investigative journalism.