May 30, 2013 2 Comments
Eric Holder tentatively has plans to meet with the press regarding the Justice Department’s subpoena scandal. The meeting is of course off the record, so the press won’t be able to formally nail Holder down on anything. To their credit the AP, Huffington Post and New York Times have refused to participate in Holder’s off the record gathering. The Obama administration has engaged in a number of off the record press gatherings lately. They had a big press pow wow over Benghazi a couple months ago, now Holder wants an off the record pow wow over his subpoenas.
These off the record meetings are a little on the disturbing side. We all understand that the administration is trying to manipulate media coverage. This is hardly unique to the Obama administration. The issue here is that the administration is inviting journalists to a secret discussion of administration scandals and/or actions. They’re being told the administration spin on the facts, which no doubt paint Obama, or in this case Holder, in the most favorable light possible. Then the media is unleashed to tell us absolutely nothing about what was said. The administration goal is to manipulate the media into providing favorable coverage because the media will be privy to off the record information that they can’t share with us little people.
Make no mistake this is about keeping information away from the voting public while manipulating the media into more favorable coverage. Because the meeting isn’t on the record, the public isn’t going to find out why our Attorney General went judge shopping to obtain the James Rosen warrant. The media might be able to ask Holder the question, he will no doubt dismiss the story as not a big deal and hope that the media causes the story to go away as a result of his charm offensive. Meanwhile the public doesn’t get to find out why the Attorney General had to go through three judges just to get the Rosen subpoena authorized.
In order to have a free press the media can’t engage in regular off the record press conferences with the government. This White House already produces its own news coverage which it wants or expects media outlets to use. Part of having a free press is allowing the media to publicly ask questions of those in power. When those press conferences no longer happen in public or when they are declared off the record, we no longer have a free press. We instead have a manipulated press that covers stories based on information they cannot share with the public. It may work well for the President but it keeps the public in the dark about what their government is actually doing.
Thankfully some of the mainstream liberal media outlets have had enough of the off the record gatherings. At least three are refusing to attend Holder’s off the record press conference. All of them should refuse to participate. Leave the off the record media meetings to Obama’s hoard of liberal bloggers and assorted editorial stooges. Those who feign objectivity should not allow that objectivity to come under fire by meeting in secret with Cabinet members or the President’s media mouthpiece. Under the first amendment the press is of course free to do as it pleases. But in order for the first amendment to be truly fulfilled, the press cannot participate in off the record press conferences such as the one Holder proposes.