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Several journalist covering President Barack Obama have received veiled threats regarding their stories about the President.
Respected journalist, Bob Woodward, famous for his book about the Nixon Watergate cover-up, told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that a “very senior person” at the White House warned him in an email that he would “regret doing this,” meaning regret slamming President Obama about sequestration or forced tax cuts. Wolf Blitzer indicated that CNN invited a White House official to debate Woodward on-air, but the White House declined.
“It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, ‘You’re going to regret doing something that you believe in,'” Woodward said.
Although not identified by Woodward, an official familiar with the exchange told Fox News it was National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling. According to Politico, Woodward said he was “yelled at” by an Obama aide over his weekend column in the Washington Post. Then, he said he received a page-long email from Sperling that said: “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. … You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
This is clearly a violation of Woodward’s constitutional rights. The First Amendment gives the press the right to publish news, information and opinions without government interference. This also means people have the right to publish their own newspapers, newsletters, magazines, etc.
Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, on Thursday, claimed that he too has been on the receiving end of threats from the White House as a result of columns he has written about President Barack Obama. Davis said his Washington Times editor, John Solomon, “received a phone call from a senior Obama White House official who didn’t like some of my columns, even though I’m a supporter of Obama.”
Still a third journalist has been screamed at with vulgar epithets and threatened by White House officials.
Ron Fournier, editor-in-chief of the National Journal received several e-mails and telephone calls from a White House official filled with vulgarity, abusive language, and virtually the same phrase that Woodward called a veiled threat.
Fournier said that when he moved back to daily reporting this year, the badgering intensified. He wrote to the White House official, asking him/her to stop e-mailing him. The official wrote, “Get off your high horse and assess the facts, Ron.” He wrote back indicating that all future emails would be “on the record” publishable at his discretion. The emails stopped, and so did their working relationship.
This level of journalistic abuse is unprecedented in my lifetime. How many more journalists will come forward to protest the totalitarian methods used by this White House to control information to the public?