President Obama, who presides over one of the most secretive and White House press corps-dodging administrations, will get hammered next month as the Committee to Protect Journalists watchdog group releases its first report on the state of press freedom in the U.S.
Len Downie, former executive editor of the Washington Post and author of the report, will serve as master of ceremonies at the Obama roast that is slated for the Newseum in D.C. on Oct. 10.
With the release of the study, the U.S. will join the dubious list of repressive states (China, Burma, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Tanzania) that merited a CPJ press freedom survey this year.
CPJ executive director Joel Simon said journalists have complained to him about how their work is now more difficult due to the Obama administration’s clamp down on leaks, threats of prosecution and general Justice Dept. intimidation.
As the White House “abolishes” the traditional press conference by conducting the fewest Q&A sessions during its first term since the days of Ronald Reagan, access to key players has become more restrictive. E.g., CBS anchor Bob Schieffer recently complained that he must receive White House Press Office permission for on-camera interviews with even low-level staffers.
While the mainstream media bemoan lack of access, Obama has stepped up the use of brief one-to-one sit-downs with reporters, exchanges that are well suited for presidential control and flattery.
The White House has mastered the use of social media, the medium most responsible for Obama's presidential election. Though SocMedia is a great channel to rally the base, it is a communications vehicle where one largely preaches to the choir.
The president is supposed to be representative of the entire country. Mainstream media are still the way to do that.
Obama's press-avoidance strategy short-changes the American people, and contributes to the political polarization that is tearing the country apart.