During his final press conference, Obama fawned over journalists, calling upon the American press corps to retaliate against the incoming Trump administration. “Our democracy needs you,” he said, “America needs you.” This was not his position when in the White House; Obama was, in practice, more “Nixonian” than any president since Nixon. In 2015, former New York Times reporter James Risen described the Obama administration, in very stark terms, as “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation.” His assessment is accurate.
Obama’s Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder, who once described himself as the president’s “wing man,” charged eight people for leaking to journalists under the Espionage Act of 1917: Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Chelsea Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou, and Edward Snowden. Overall, the administration prosecuted three times as many cases of whistleblowing and leaking as any previous administration, Republican or Democratic. Moreover, in 2013, the Obama administration obtained a warrant to search the phone records and personal emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen. Rosen had published sensitive information about North Korea that the administration claimed might have undermined its efforts.