Obama’s HHS is making it incredibly difficult for reporters to cover the influx of immigrant children

Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made news last week when it denied Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) access to a facility in his district in which immigrant children are being held. The agency bureaucrat in charge of the Ft. Still-based facility told him to schedule an appointment for July 21, three weeks later.

HHS has, apparently, felt the heat. Officials at the facility invited Bridenstine to visit on July 12, which the Oklahoma Republican accepted. However, he indicated that he’ll make unannounced visits as well.

HHS officials also extended a tour invitation to the media for July 10. But there are a number of rules with which reporters have to comply to be given access. Here’s the part of the email reporters received on Monday from an administration official, according to Bridenstine’s office:

The purpose of this 40-minute tour is to show members of the press the interior of the shelter and explain the care we provide while these children remain in our custody. The tour guide will detail what goes on from room to room and the services youth are provided on a daily basis.

In order to protect the safety and privacy of the children, the following rules for participation will be required:

Obama administration takes three Muzzle “awards” for free speech suppression

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression released its annual “Jefferson Muzzles” recognizing federal, state, and local governments agencies for the most egregious instances of infringements of the First Amendment in the last year.

Taking the top dishonors in this year’s list of winners is Department of Justice and the White House Press Office. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security share an “award.”

Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice was given the top dishonor for its war on leakers and whistleblowers. This crackdown has put reporters and, by extension, the First Amendment in its crosshairs.

The Thomas Jefferson Center cites the subpoena of Associated Press journalists’ phone records as well as the targeting of Fox News correspondent James Rosen as examples of the Department of Justice’s overreach. Though the department has responded to the controversy by issuing new guidelines, there still could be problems down the road.

“[T]he protections [the guidelines] provide are not absolute and some significant exceptions exist that, if exploited, could result in a repeat of last year’s shameful actions,” the Thomas Jefferson Center explains. “Should such temptation ever arise, we hope this 2014 Jefferson Muzzle will inspire the Department of Justice to fully consider the importance of a free press to our nation.”

NY Times reporter calls Obama administration the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation

Recent reports from the Associated Press and Cause of Action have explained in great detail that President Barack Obama hasn’t come close to living up to promises of greater transparency, a result of the White House’s effort to control information requested by the press that could prove to be a political headache or embarrassing.

The administration’s obsession of controlling of information isn’t limited to what documents are released. It also extends to how the administration tries to control the press, as James Risen, a reporter for The New York Times, recently explained at a conference (emphasis added):

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.

CBS News reporter resigns, cites network’s liberal bias

Sharyl Attkisson, a journalist known for her reporting on Fast and Furious as well as Benghazi, has resigned her position at CBS News, citing, among other things, the network’s liberal bias (emphasis added):

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has reached an agreement to resign from CBS News ahead of contract, bringing an end to months of hard-fought negotiations, sources familiar with her departure told POLITICO on Monday.

Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsized influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said. She increasingly felt like her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air.

At the same time, Attkisson’s own reporting on the Obama administration, which some staffers characterized as agenda-driven, had led network executives to doubt the impartiality of her reporting. She is currently at work on a book — tentatively titled “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington” — which addresses the challenges of reporting critically on the Obama administration.
Others have suggested that CBS News itself was politically biased: “It’s no secret that Sharyl has been unhappy about CBS’s lack of interest in investigative reporting, especially when it comes to stories about the Obama administration,” a source close to Attkisson said.

Reporters worried they’ll lose White House access if they ask about Benghazi

White House Press Pool

With last week’s explosive new revelations about the Benghazi terrorist attack, which includes the CIA going to great lengths to keep operatives from talking to the media and a U.S.-backed gun smuggling operation that sent arms to rebels in Syria, one would think that the media would be all over it.

But looking over the transcript of yesterday’s White House press briefing, there was no mention of this story and only a passing mention of Benghazi in a question about al-Qaeda. This story didn’t come from some conservative publication, it came from Jake Tapper at CNN, a journalist who is highly regarded by Democrats and Republicans alike.

So what gives?

Mediaite notes that some CNN reporters are worried that they will lose their access to the White House because of the latest story about Benghazi:

Some CNN reporters are reportedly fearful now that their access to the White House will be hampered following their probing into a story that members of the Obama administration would prefer remain uninvestigated.

“Access is a very serious consideration when it comes to stories that could adversely impact a show, correspondent, or network’s relationship with the administration, a campaign, or any political leader,” one source with insider information told Mediaite.

Obama: Reporters think my ideas “sound great”

Obama's media lapdogs

During his big economic speech last week in Illinois, in which he rehashed old themes and failed ideas, President Barack Obama told the crowd that reporters think his economic ideas “sound great.” He even said that some Republicans are supportive, but are afraid of backlash or primary challengers.

“It’s interesting, in the run-up to this speech, a lot of reporters [said] that, ‘Well, Mr. President, these are all good ideas, but some of you’ve said before; some of them sound great, but you can’t get those through Congress. Republicans won’t agree with you,’” recalled Obama. “And I say, look, the fact is there are Republicans in Congress right now who privately agree with me on a lot of the ideas I’ll be proposing. I know because they’ve said so. But they worry they’ll face swift political retaliation for cooperating with me.”

We’re shocked — absolutely SHOCKED — to learn that the media falls over themselves at just about anything President Obama says, despite the news that his administration has threatened journalists simply doing their jobs. And while there may be some Republicans in Congress that agree with President Obama, likely the members who keep going to dinner with him, those of who disagree with him are slammed as supporters of “inequality,” a word that the White House is trying to bring back into the political lexicon after a rough last few months.

NBC’s David Gregory once again shows his bias

David Gregory and Glenn Greenwald

The big news Sunday morning was that Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked information about National Security Agency’s broad surveillance of Americans, had left Hong Kong and would be seeking asylum in Ecuador.

As this news was developing, Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the story about the NSA’s spying program at The Guardian, joined David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday to discuss Snowden and his decision to leave Hong Kong with the help of WikiLeaks, an activist organization that advocates transparency in world governments. They also discussed the PATRIOT Act and NSA spying program, which Greenwald contends is a violation of the Fourth Amendment and, therefore, is unconstitutional.

However, details of the NSA ostensibly treating every American as if they are criminals isn’t what made headlines yesterday. Instead, it was Gregory, whose reporting and questioning of guests frequently takes a line in favor of the Obama Administration, and his perceived belief that investigative journalism should be frowned upon that became the news.

“Final question for you,” said Gregory, “[t]o the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?”

Greenwald immediately slammed Gregory and dismissed the entire premise of the question, noting that the theory apparently embraced by the Meet the Press host is contributing to the decline in investigative journalism.

House Republican Wants to Prosecute Journalists for Reporting on Leaks

Peter King on CNN

It’s not just the Obama Administration that wants to go after journalists. During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that the the government should prosecute reporters when they publish sensitive information from leakers and whistleblowers.

Cooper and King were discussing the recent leak about the National Security Agency’s broad collection of Americans’ phone records, even if they aren’t suspected of terrorist activity. Glenn Greenwald, a journalist at The Guardian, published information he received from a whistleblower about the secret program. The story renewed debate on the PATRIOT Act and government surveillance.

“[I]f they willing knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken something of this magnitude. I know the issue of leaks, I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation both legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something, which would so severely compromise national security,” King told Cooper. “As a practical matter, I guess there have been in the past several years, a number of reporters who have been prosecuted. So the answer is yes to your question.”

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