No doubt, former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson is disgruntled. You get that impression from her insistence that she be called “fired New York Times editor” rather than “former.” And, in her prior capacity, you would never have seen her appear on Fox News Channel to criticize President Barack Obama’s administration.
Nevertheless, speaking in her current capacity – an unencumbered professional journalist with nearly 40 years’ experience and no political axe to grind save for the one reserved for her former employers at the Times – Abramson and Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren confirming that Obama’s is “the most secretive” administration in generations is significant.
“I’ve never dealt with an administration where more officials, some of whom are actually paid to be the spokesman for various federal agencies, demand that everything be off the record,” Abramson said. “But the most serious thing is the Obama administration has launched eight criminal leak investigations against sources and whistleblowers, and they’ve tried to sweep in journalists.
She added that there has been a “freeze” among journalists, specifically those covering Washington D.C. and national security.
That is a sentiment shared by a variety of reporters and photojournalists – the Society of Professional Journalists recently accused the administration of “censorship” in the service of political goals, though that accusation did not get the coverage it should have.
Abramson’s is a particularly galling assessment, considering that this White House promised to be the “most transparent” in history and still maintains that it is. White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest repeated this laughable claim as recently as this week.
Her indictment is, though, most damning due to the fact that so many professional journalists have abandoned their profession in order to join this “most secretive” administration. As of September of last year, at least 15 former reporters from influential outlets like ABC, NBC, Time magazine, and The Washington Post had taken up roles working with or flacking for various federal agencies.
If this administration is the most secretive in modern history, it does not have to worry about much oversight from many ideologically simpatico members of the press corps. If the means do not justify the ends, after all, what does?