Leak-Probed NYT Reporter On Obama: 'The Greatest Enemy to Press Freedom In a Generation'

Not every reporter in Obama's Washington likes to be seen as a soft touch. Take James Risen of The New York Times, the subject of a leak probe over his CIA reporting in a 2006 book. In a positive column by his Times colleague Maureen Dowd, she touted how at a pickup basketball game, "Risen got in a fight with a lobbyist about the rules for being out of bounds."

Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington correspondent, added to the aura: “Whether it’s editors or government officials, Jim definitely won’t take no for an answer, but he will certainly give it.” So naturally he’s going to talk tough about Obama, now trying to intimidate him into revealing his sources.

“A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

“It’s surreal to be caught up in a news story instead of writing about one,” he said “in his soft voice.” But that’s not exactly true. Reporters mucking around in divulging national secrets of intelligence-gathering know what they could be up against. Certainly, Mr. Basketball Fight did.


Dowd noted that both Obama and his attorney general Eric Holder denounced the Ferguson, Missouri police arresting reporters:

The president and the attorney general both spoke nobly about the First Amendment after two reporters were arrested in Ferguson, Mo., while covering the racial protests in the wake of Michael Brown’s death.

Obama said that “here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”

Holder seconded the sentiment, saying that “journalists must not be harassed or prevented from covering a story that needs to be told.”

So why don’t they back off Risen? It’s hard to fathom how the president who started with the press fluffing his pillows has ended up trying to suffocate the press with those pillows.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis