I honestly don't know if I have the emotional energy for this post today. I fought this battle in 2009 when the White House went to war with Fox, and I have the scars to prove it.
I am so tired of standing up for journalistic principles in the middle of ideological battlefields and getting hammered from partisans on both sides that some days I think I'm crazy to do it.
But either you believe in these journalistic and ethical principles or you don't. And documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and published today at Judicial Watch show an Obama White House that tried to bully the press into submission. And when the news operation wouldn't bend, Team Obama tried to punish it.
Citizens and potential voters need to have this information about their elected leader and his team in the White House. So here goes. You can read the Judicial Watch report here under the headline: "White House attacked, excluded Fox News." Check out the juvenile, nasty language of the White House emails, by the way. Not exactly the best and brightest gang in the West Wing these days, is it?
I'll try to do this mostly with videos. But here's what you need to know to make sense of the videos.
In October of 2009, the Obama White House launched an attack on Fox News. It started on the Sunday TV shows with senior White House officials denouncing Fox and saying it was an arm of the Republican Party. But the backstage stuff was far nastier. The Obama White House said Fox wasn't a legitimate news organization and should not be treated as a member of the press corps. Team Obama took it upon itself to start denying Fox News access the to the administration that it gave to everyone else.
I got involved as one of the only mainstream, non-partisan media critics who said the executive branch of government does not get to say who is and who isn't a legitimate member of the press corps. That principle was laid down by the founding fathers, and this country only works with a free and independent press -- not one bullied into submission by the White House.
I'll spare you the details of the pushback I received. And I'll spare you my conflicted feelings about defending Fox given some of the anti-journalism brazenly practiced there. But like I said, you either believe in these principles and act of them, or you don't deserve to be a media critic.
Read the report from Judicial Watch, and check out the videos here and here below to see how it played out on TV as it was happening. (I tried to post the videos, but the new software I am using is not co-operating. I'll say no more about the software.)
I understand how hard it is right now to have anything but contempt for any property owned by Rupert Murdoch. Based on what has happened in England with the reprehensible phone hacking done by operatives at one of Murdoch's papers, the contempt seems warranted. And with the FBI now investigating News Corp. in the U.S., it looks as if the bad behavior might have not been contained to the other side of the Atlantic.
But for now, try to rise above those feelings and dispassionately consider the facts of this case that has been cast into a different light by the FOI documents. People need to know the extent to which White House officials have lied.
I have said it before: Not since Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, have I see a White House with such contempt for the press -- and disregard for the historic role a free press plays in this society.