Among the many costs of the Barack Obama presidency is an intentional corrosion for its own political gain of public faith in so many American institutions, among them Congress, the Supreme Court and the media.
If numerous sectors of society are feuding or distrustful of each other, then a well-controlled central authority like a chief executive can more easily rule the pieces. It’s classic Chicago politics, the way the mayor there controls the city’s feuding neighborhood fiefdoms of Democrat pols and workers.
We’re going to examine the American media today and urge some temperance and caution in the now endemic condemnation of the much-reviled MSM for the country’s own self-interest.
To be honest, it has done much to earn widespread public distrust. This stems from the inherent institutional and individual arrogance of its long-time monopoly over the information flow through broadcast networks and large daily newspapers.
And from its laser focus on conflict as “news” and its do-good social agendas that instinctively turn to government intervention instead of far more effective individual responsibility and action. The traditional media’s disconnection from its audience became even more starkly visible with the Internet’s welcome explosion of information sources, many of them responsible.
Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index the other day. Much of it was predictable. Few would be surprised that China, Syria and North Korea inhabit the bottom rungs of press freedom.
What was shocking to those of us who favor a strong, independent — and, yes, imperfect — media as a constitutional check on government’s power was the ranking of the United States, the world’s largest economy and most enduring democracy.
The U.S. during the fifth year of Obama’s reign plummeted 13 spots to 46th in the world, right between — are you ready? — Rumania and Haiti. The group based that embarrassing ranking largely on the Obama administration’s unusually determined efforts to curb dissent and plug and track down leaks. (For the five countries deemed most free, scroll to the bottom.**)
Not all leaks are bad. With a twinkle in his eye, a knowing politician once authorized me to leak government information with the order: “See that you suppress this widely.”
Trying to gain dominance over each 24-hour news cycle, the Obama administration leaks like a sieve with the advantageous info it wants out — a new cabinet member, EPA policy shift, some nickel-and-dime small ball gimmick Obama intends to announce to placate a segment of his base. None of this is unique to him.
And no president or wannabe likes un-orchestrated leaks.
But no other administration in recent memory has gone to the lengths of this one to plug leaks, catch leakers and intimidate would-be news sources.
Atty. Gen. Eric Holder even signed a court document certifying that a Fox News reporter was a criminal co-conspirator, when he wasn’t, in order to obtain authority to wiretap him, his emails and his parents’ phone to track the reporter’s source.
Then, under oath, Holder told Congress he could not contemplate ever doing such a thing.
Obama is notorious for dodging responsibility, professing ignorance of a problem or blaming others.
In his Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, a jolly Obama virtually dismissed the IRS scandal of intimidating conservative groups as a bevy of “bone-head decisions” by confused local agents free of even a “smidgen” of corruption. And the president as victim implied that Fox News harps on the case to drive its own anti-administration agenda.
This from the same cynical mouth that less than nine months ago denounced the same affair as an outrageous abuse of power, promising a thorough investigation to ensure it never ever reoccurred.
Now that the Obama crowd has separated media from many who once trusted it, comes an even more dire threat.
The Federal Communications Commission this spring will launch a nationwide “study” of newsroom values, priorities and processes to see if they meet a list of government “critical information needs.” This will also involve print media over which the FCC has heretofore had no authority under the Constitution.
This process, similar to ones employed by Communist regimes behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, is not designed to gather any information at all. It’s designed to sow doubt, fear and intimidate traditionally independent news media into self-censorship, which can be a very powerful tool limiting critical news coverage.
And — oh, look! — there’s an important midterm election coming in nine months.
Americans need not trust, respect or even like the nation’s disparate news media to see this campaign for what it is: A bold political move by an omnivorous government that threatens, like a clogged human artery, to limit the flow of independent information envisioned by the Founding Fathers as so essential to the daily health of this democracy. (IBD)