Magazine article Variety

Same as It Ever Was

Magazine article Variety

Same as It Ever Was

Article excerpt

PRESIDENT TRUMP HASN'T called a formal news conference in more than a year, a scheduling lapse that ordinarily would inflame the White House press corps.

Trump's blustery war on journalism has at times featured streaming insults and threats to punish unfriendly outlets. He calls reporters "nasty" and endangers their safety while maligning their work.

"So much Fake News about what is going on in the White House," he complained recently on Twitter.

President Obama, by contrast, gave a valedictory address on his way out of Washington praising White House reporters.

"America needs you and our democracy needs you," Obama said. "Having you in this building has made this place work better. It keeps us honest, it makes us work harder."

Worthy sentiments, but also dishonest given Obama's dismal record on press freedom and access.

Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter James Risen wrote in The New York Times that if Trump wants to jail a whistle-blower or use the FBI to spy on journalists, he got the playbook from his predecessor.

Obama, who campaigned on a promise to protect government whistle-blowers, made greater use of the Espionage Act to prosecute leakers and menace journalists than all other presidents combined.

Obama's Justice Department accessed the personal email of a Fox News reporter and surveilled the reporter's parents and colleagues. They seized the home, work and mobile phone records of journalists at the Associated Press.

Risen, who fought the administration to protect his sources, got so deep in his own legal battle with Obama that he selected a reading list for prison before the government finally backed off. …

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