- He went after and prosecuted more whistleblowers than every other President combined.
- He spied on journalists who he thought was an enemy of his views and efforts without proper cause or warrants.
- His administration fought tooth and nail, more than any other President, to block legitimate and legal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
- His administration even tried to illegally charge a legitimate news gathering organization, the Associated Press, an outrageous sum of money for a FOIA request.
- Only 20% of those polled said they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in television news.
- 45% said they had very little or no confidence in television news.
- Newspapers do not do much better with 23% saying they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in newspapers while 40% saying they very little or no confidence in newspapers.
- Ironically they both did better than Congress whose ratings were the most abysmal among all major American institutions.
- The poll found that a whopping 72% of American blame the mainstream news media for many of the problems in this country since the media is “dividing Americans” and “spreading hate.”
- The poll was done by the respected polling outfit, Zogby Analytics.
- According to Zogby: “[respondents] felt the mainstream media spreads hate and misunderstanding, also felt that President Trump is responsible for the spread of hate and misunderstanding, but more voters overall, and in most sub-groups, blame the media slightly more!”
- And: “Overall, 72 percent said “the mainstream media has played a major role in dividing Americans along racial, gender and political lines. This has led to a spread of hate and misunderstanding among some people.”
- The overwhelming Republicans in the poll sample felt that the media was most to blame but even a majority of Democrats in the poll agreed that the mainstream media was most to blame.
- President Trump also caught flak for contributing to spreading hate and dividing Americans but the mainstream media was the clear winner in this question.
- The title of the article was, “If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama.”
- Mr. Risen correctly points out that Obama and his administration went out and prosecuted nine government whistle blowers during its eight years, three times the number that all previous Presidents COMBINED had gone after.
- Obama reached back to the Espionage Act, a leftover relic from the first world war 100 years ago, not to go after real spies, the original purpose of the law, but to get government employees who dared to talk to the press.
- In addition, according to Mr. Risen, “Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.”
- Mr. Risen himself got caught up in the Obama headhunting when Obama era officials tried to force him to reveal a confidential source.
- According to Leonard Downie, a former executive editor at the Washington Post and now a journalism teacher at Arizona State University (i.e. this guy has some credibility as a journalism professional) in a 2013 report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Obama’s pressure on journalists was “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate.”
- According to Trevor Timm who is the executive director of the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation: “Obama has laid all the groundwork Trump needs for an unprecedented crackdown on the press.”
- And it gets worse: Dana Priest, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Washington Post, stated: “Obama’s attorney general repeatedly allowed the F.B.I. to use intrusive measures against reporters more often than any time in recent memory. The moral obstacles have been cleared for Trump’s attorney general to go even further, to forget that it’s a free press that has distinguished us from other countries, and to try to silence dissent by silencing an institution whose job is to give voice to dissent.”
- While historically finding and stopping leaks had been a low priority of previous Presidencies, that changed with Obama according to Mr. Risen: “The Obama administration quickly ratcheted up the pressure, and made combating leaks a top priority for federal law enforcement. Large-scale leaks, by Chelsea Manning and later by Edward J. Snowden, prompted the administration to adopt a zealous, prosecutorial approach toward all leaking.”
- According to Lucy Dalglish, the dean at the journalism school at the University of Maryland, after meeting with Obama officials to discuss news reporting and government sources: “You got the impression from the tone of the government officials that they wanted to take a zero-tolerance approach to leaks.”
- Ms. Dalglish has stated that if Trump is as bad as Obama when it comes to stifling the First Amendment it is because “Obama handed him a road map.”
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