Better late than never, I guess, but sure would have been nice to do it while he was in office.
OBAMA: “It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like. I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people.” — rally Friday at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
THE FACTS: Trump may use extraordinary rhetoric to undermine trust in the press, but Obama arguably went farther — using extraordinary actions to block the flow of information to the public.
The Obama administration used the 1917 Espionage Act with unprecedented vigor, prosecuting more people under that law for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous administrations combined. Obama’s Justice Department dug into confidential communications between news organizations and their sources as part of that effort.
In 2013 the Obama administration obtained the records of 20 Associated Press office phone lines and reporters’ home and cell phones, seizing them without notice, as part of an investigation into the disclosure of information about a foiled al-Qaida terrorist plot.
Obama’s Justice Department also secretly dogged Fox News journalist James Rosen, getting his phone records, tracking his arrivals and departures at the State Department through his security-badge use, obtaining a search warrant to see his personal emails and naming him as a possible criminal conspirator in the investigation of a news leak.
“The Obama administration,” The New York Times editorial board wrote at the time, “has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.”