The mainstream media continues to react with righteous indignation over comments from President Trump and his top advisers. His statements about the “fake media” are unprecedented, right? Actually, Trump isn’t the only president to wage war on the press. In fact, when comparing the actions taken by President Obama vs Mr. Trump, it’s shocking – and not even close.
The Obama Administration began with lofty promises of being “the most transparent administration in history.” And as a child, I promised to be the first person in my family to walk on the moon. Saying it doesn’t make it so.
For those who are outraged at Trump’s treatment of the press, let’s rewind the tape.
Exhibit A – Freedom of Information Act
The Obama Administration set a record. According to the Associated Press, the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history” denied more Freedom of Information Act requests than any other administration in American history. Simply said, when the media cited their constitutional right to news that had been sealed by the Obama Administration, their request for “transparency” was consistently denied.
Exhibit B – War on Fox News
Early in its first year, the Obama Administration declared war on the most watched cable news channel in America. (It’s not even close.) Here’s what happened. The White House communications director, Anita Dunn, announced their intent to treat Fox News “like an opponent,” insisting, “we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”
Trump talks tough – criticizing CNN, for example. But Obama followed through with actions unprecedented by Trump or any other administration in modern American history. They denied Fox News from attending presidential press gatherings.
Exhibit C – Talk radio
President Obama made it a habit of criticizing conservative talk radio whenever his poll numbers dipped. Amazingly, he even said that these “domestic propagandists” were far more dangerous to America than any interference from hostile powers like Russia.
Exhibit D – Surveillance of James Rosen
When the State Department was criticized by Fox News’ James Rosen, they ordered his movements tracked and his phone records seized. It was later confirmed that they were monitoring his emails, as well.
Exhibit E – Treatment of the Associated Press
The AP underwent unprecedented surveillance by the Obama team. For two months, the Department of Justice tracked 20 AP reporters’ calls, following a reported failed plot in Libya. The crime? The AP reported the news before the Administration did.
It is pretty hard to justify some of the things President Trump tweets and says about the media. But he does have a point. As a specific example, he recently decried the media’s mishandling of his statement on “fake media.” Trump’s actual statement had been that the “fake media” was an opponent to his Administration. In his follow-up statement, he pointed out that they had incorrectly quoted him as saying the “media” was an opponent to his Administration.
Because I record so many political shows, I went back and watched the tape. Sure enough, George Stephanopoulos left out the all-important word “fake.” “President Trump said ‘the media’ is the opponent of his Administration,” he said on ABC’s This Week.
Again, Trump needs a trusted confidant to whisper (better yet, shout) in his ear, “Enough already with the incessant tweeting about the media.” But where he has spoken words, President Obama actually did things – unprecedented things – to harm the media and keep them from doing their constitutionally protected work.
Obama vs Trump. One Administration set the record for denying Freedom of Information requests. One Administration conducted surveillance on a reporter and an entire news organization. One Administration banned the most popular news cable network from their press conferences. And that Administration was not Donald Trump’s.