February 28, 2017

USA: Report: President Obama Often Blocked Press Access To Information; Obama Booted Reporters From Conservative Papers Off His Plane In 2008.

USA Today
written by Roger Yu
October 10, 2013

Despite President Obama's promises of transparency, the White House blocks routine information for reporters, seeks aggressive prosecution of classified information leakers and uses its own media channels to shape its messaging, according to a scathing new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Authored by former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., the report portrays an administration gripped by strict policies about information flow and paranoid about leaks across all executive branch departments.

"This is the most closed, control freak administration I've ever covered," David E. Sanger, chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times, told Downie, who now teaches journalism at Arizona State University.

The administration has implemented an "Insider Threat Program" in all government departments to urge federal employees to monitor their colleagues for possible unauthorized information disclosures. Administration employees suspected of leaking classified information are given lie-detector tests and subject to reviews of their telephone and e-mail records, wrote Downie, who was assisted in reporting by Sara Rafsky.

The report is the latest in a series of portrayals by journalists and media critics of a president whose rigid public relations practices belie his earlier promises of change and open access to public information.

Such accusations had been mounting prior to the series of stories about widespread surveillance of telephone calls and e-mail in the U.S. by the National Security Agency, made possible by internal documents that were leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

Since 2009, six government employees have been subjects of felony criminal prosecutions in the leak of classified information to the press, vs. a total of three in all previous U.S. administrations, the report noted.

The White House disputed the report's characterizations and pointed out to Downie that the number of interviews Obama granted in his first four-plus years — including the ones made available to digital media and TV entertainment outlets, such as The Tonight Show — exceeds the combined total of former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The administration has also put more government data online and worked to speed up processing of Freedom of Information Act requests. "The idea that people are shutting up and not leaking to reporters is belied by the facts," Jay Carney, Obama's press secretary, told Downie.

Still, the crackdown on leakers has made administration officials generally reluctant to talk to reporters even about unclassified information, the report said. Responding to their sources' fear of leaving digital trails of calls and e-mail, reporters also are worried about reaching out to sources, Downie wrote.

"There's a gray zone between classified and unclassified information, and most sources were in that gray zone," New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane told Downie. "Sources are now afraid to enter that gray zone. It's having a deterrent effect."

That even official spokespeople within government agencies are "unresponsive or hostile" to press calls exacerbates the relationship between the president and journalists, he said.

Digitally-savvy aides working for the Obama administration use its own sophisticated websites, social media and internally produced videos to channel information directly to users, much of it useful for consumers. But the amount of information available to the public through these managed channels — with content editorially bent to reflect the administration in a positive note — isn't sufficient, Downie concluded.
The Daily Caller
written by Michael Bastasch
January 12, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s team has taken a lot of heat for threatening to kick a CNN reporter out of Trump Tower for being “rude” during a Wednesday press conference.

The media heaped on Trump for his treatment of CNN, forcing incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer to say he would “absolutely not” kick out news groups for critical coverage.

But the media is forgetting that then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign kicked off three reporters from his plane who worked for papers that endorsed Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

The Obama campaign did so in the final four days of the race, ABC News reported in 2008, claiming “a limited number of seats forced it to make the tough decision of which journalists would be permitted to follow” Obama on the campaign trail.

“Unfortunately, demand for seats on the plane during this final weekend has far exceeded supply, and because of logistical issues we made the decision not to add a second plane,” former Obama campaign adviser Anita Dunn told ABC.

But the conservative-leaning newspapers said they were targeted for endorsing Obama’s opponent, McCain. Obama even allowed nonpolitical writers with Glamour, Jet and Ebony magazines to remain on his plane. Meanwhile, reporters with The Dallas Morning News, Washington Times and The New York Post lost their seats.

“It feels like the journalistic equivalent of redistributing the wealth,” John Solomon, executive editor of the Washington Times, told ABC in 2008.

“We’ve covered him since 2007 and paid our dues,” he said. “By the numbers we’ve covered Obama longer and given more coverage to him than many of the other people who were given seats.”

The Obama campaign said they needed to make room for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, noting that The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, which lean right, got to keep their seats.

ABC News at the time noted this wasn’t the first time the press were kicked off presidential campaign flights.

“In 2004, The New York Times said it was not given a seat on Air Force 2 when Vice President Dick Cheney was stumping with President Bush, because the vice president was displeased with the paper’s coverage of him,” ABC News reported.

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