As journalists continue to lose their minds over the rhetoric of Donald Trump in regards to the press, it seems there’s a crucial element they’re missing. Surely Trump’s likening of the free press of the United States to the enemies of the people was inappropriate by the own admission of his children, current administration officials, and the president himself; and surely his re-phrasing of inaccurate or biased news stories to “fake news” do the landscapes no favours.
Yet in terms of action, Donald Trump seems to have been relatively open with the press, begging the question, where was the outrage during Obama’s presidency?
Surely Obama had a presidency that has the appearance of closeness with the Press as they regularly went out of their way to fawn over Obama, ignore his transgressions, and sniff his throne. But while the press gaggled behind Obama’s great greatness of the greatest magnitude, it’s surprising to see them ignore his very own administration’s actions against the free press the likes of which the United States had never seen before.
Rhetoric is one thing. Action is another. And when it came to actions against the press that loves him, Obama is the unrivalled champion. The espionage act from the time of its conception to 2009 was used exactly once to go after a news source. That’s ONE person convicted for sharing information with the press in 92 years, but Obama thought that was one status quo he wasn’t comfortable with keeping afloat. After all, his campaign slogan was “Change.”
After eight government officials began to leak about Obama’s routine violations of Americans’ civil rights, illegal transgression of privacy, and civilian-killing drone-strikes in the middle east, Obama jailed all eight of them even after campaigning on whistleblower protections. But it didn’t end there, as the Obama administration used the power of the presidency to wire-tap and surveil journalists who were working on stories unfavourable to his celebrity image of excellence and proceeded to seize the documents of many more journalists.
In this context, Obama’s banning of Fox News from press briefings in 2013 seems pretty benign, but a total lack of respect for freedom and respect for the press can be easily observed. Yet it seems that the free press of the United States feels nostalgic of a time when the president would routinely subjugate their rights in transgressions they never reported and feel the true villain to them is a critic who takes no real actionable steps to silence them.
Deputy Editor, The Unshackled
Host of the Front and Center Podcast