New York Times reporter James Risen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, claims the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”
Risen won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 and 2006 for his reporting on national security and terrorism. He has clashed with the Obama administration over his refusal to reveal a confidential source in a matter that reached the Supreme Court in January.
Speaking last week at a New York conference called Sources and Secrets, Risen voiced his concern about the Obama administration’s interaction with journalists, according to a report from Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon:
New York Times reporter James Risen, who is fighting an order that he testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of leaking information to him, opened the conference earlier by saying the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.” Anyone journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, “will be punished.”
The administration’s aggressive prosecutions have created “a de facto Official Secrets Act,” Risen said, and the media has been “too timid” in responding.
The conference also featured remarks from Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer for The New Yorker and senior legal analyst for CNN, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.). They were among the speakers who debated a federal shield law for the press.
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Risen’s critique of the Obama administration comes just weeks after Sharyl Attkisson left her job at CBS News following investigative reports on the Obama administration’s handling of the Fast and Furious gunrunning operation and Benghazi terrorist attack.
In an interview with talk-radio host Chris Stigall, Attkisson shared her concerns about coordination between journalists and government officials, particularly the White House’s pre-screening of questions from reporters:
I wouldn’t surprised if sometimes there is that level of cooperation with some questions. If I need something answered from the White House and they won’t tell me, I’ll call our White House correspondent. They’re friendlier with the White House Correspondents in general. So the White House correspondent may ask Jay Carney or one of his folks about an issue and they will be told “ask that at the briefing and we’ll answer it.” They want to answer it in front of everybody. They do know it’s coming and they’ll call on you. There’s that kind of coordination sometimes.
I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s sometimes more coordination. I don’t think it’s everybody on every briefing, every day. I’m pretty sure it’s not. But I think people would be surprised at the level of cooperation reporters have in general with politicians.
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This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.