James Risen ought to know. The New York Times reporter has had run-ins with several administrations, but it was under Barack Obama that Risen faced prison time for his investigative work with executive-branch whistleblowers. Risen tells Brian Stelter that Obama and his team “criminalized” reporting, becoming the “most secretive” White House since Richard Nixon.
Risen’s been making these complaints for a few years; almost three years ago, he called the Obama administration “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” In this interview, Risen mentions a specific mechanism that should be an indictment not of Risen, but of the Department of Justice:
RISEN: Well, they have gone after — as you said, criminalized investigative reporting. They try to take, essentially, stories that they don’t like, and try to find some classified information that might be part of that, and then turn it into a criminal leak investigation in which they say someone mishandled or disclosed classified information. As you know, you could do that with virtually any story in Washington.
That certainly seems interesting in light of the Department of Justice’s inaction in the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal probe. Under Obama, the DoJ aggressively targeted not just government workers but also the media for mishandling classified information; Stelter goes on to mention Fox’s James Rosen and Eric Holder’s declaration in a court filing of the reporter being an unindicted co-conspirator. Hillary, however, didn’t just mishandle one piece of classified information — she mishandled classified information in hundreds of unsecured e-mails, including several instances involving TOP SECRET/compartmented information, and programs whose very existence were classified.
And yet the the DoJ didn’t just decline to do anything about the latter, but had its top official meeting in private with the suspect’s spouse while the investigation was ongoing. The DoJ spent several years trying to find ways to prosecute Risen and Rosen, and spent the past year trying to find ways not to prosecute the woman who really did put national security and constitutional order at risk. That dichotomy seems rather interesting, does it not?
Curiously, we have seen very few media outlets draw a parallel between the two very different ways in which the Obama administration’s DoJ enforced the law on the handling of classified information. That’s also very interesting, because most of the media spent the last year attempting to minimize Hillary’s jaw-dropping corruption of legitimate oversight of the State Department and her exposure of national-security data through a home-brew server. They covered it as a political attack by Republicans rather than the serious breach of both classified-information security and constitutional checks and balances that it was. It’s as if they see their interests more in protecting Democrats than protecting themselves. Go figure.
Bear all of this in mind when we hear the media — and especially Barack Obama — complain about “fake news” and the supposed “post-fact” era.