The federal government is obfuscating about Benghazi and deploying the IRS against groups less than worshipful of government. As if that were not enough, the Justice Department is seizing the phone records of Associated Press reporters, which the AP calls a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” on press freedom. Ben Wizner of the ACLU called it “an unacceptable abuse of power.” True, but it’s more than that.
The Justice Department grabbed telephone records of journalists who worked on an article about the way authorities uncovered a plot to blow up a jetliner. Attorney General Eric Holder, claimed the AP investigation put the American people at risk, but as The Economist noted, terrorism advisor John Brennan said “there was never any danger to the American people” because AP revealed the plot. And the government’s interest in journalists’ phone records, “will make such inconsistencies harder to probe.” That could well be, and the campaign is also a confession that the federal government does a poor job of tracking down leaks from government agencies. This case, though of great concern, is not the only abuse of the press emanating from the federal government.
The Washington Post objects to “the White House’s bullying tactics, which treat all dissent—even inconvenient facts!—as treachery.” When Bob Woodward of Watergate fame reported that the White House had in fact authored the sequester, White House economic adviser Gene Sperling blasted Woodward in a half-hour tirade followed by an email warning “I think you will regret staking out that claim.” Woodward saw it as a veiled threat and the Post came out swinging.
“This is monstrously stupid of the White House displaying what we have seen repeatedly: The administration cannot defend its positions on the merits, so it attacks critics. It also suggests a level of desperation rarely seen from the arrogant Obama White House.” The president risks “going from halo-crowned messiah to nasty bully in the eyes of at least some in the media and, more important, in the view of the country.” Further, said the Washington Post, “it is impossible for Obama to achieve Reagan-like status, but he just might become the left’s Nixon if he keeps this up.”