Obama and legacy of journalism

From Twitter:@jswatz: Obama said this tonight about journalism.

If anyone remembers smart investigative journalism then.

People are also not likely to remember who was number 1, or 2, or 3 on the Open Parachute blog pecking order either. But they are more likely to remember significant turning points like Dirty Politics.

In response to the above tweet:

Heidi N Moore@moorehn Related: ‘The Greatest Enemy of Press Freedom in a Generation’ (David A. Graham at The Atlantic):

A New York Times reporter’s accusation that the Obama administration engages in censorship raises questions about when journalism slides into advocacy.

Many reporters have contentious relationships with sources and with the government, but James Risen is in a class of his own. The veteran New York Times national-security reporter has scored some notable scoops the authorities didn’t want him to—most notably about a failed CIA sabotage operation on Iran’s nuclear program. When Risen got the story the first time, the government convinced TheTimes to quash it for national-security reasons. (He eventually published it in a book).

The CIA thought it knew who leaked the info, and it subpoenaed Risen to reveal his source. Demanding this of a journalist is technically legal, but is highly unusual and often frowned-upon. Risen refused to divulge the source and said he’d go to jail instead, setting up a long showdown with the Justice Department. Ultimately, Risen won. Under pressure, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed, ambiguously, “As long as I’m attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.” Risen testified, refusing to name his source, and the Justice Department still managed to convict Jeffrey Sterling for leaking. Everyone else lived happily ever after.

A number of tweets from Risen:

Given Holder’s speech today, I repeat: The Obama Administration is the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation.

Eric Holder has been the nation’s top censorship officer, not the top law enforcement officer.

Eric Holder has sent a message to dictators around the world that it is okay to crack down on the press and jail journalists.

Eric Holder leaves behind a wrecked First Amendment.

I plan to spend the rest of my life fighting to undo damage done to press freedom in the United States by Barack Obama and Eric Holder.


Whether or not Risen is substantively correct about the Obama administration being the worst on press freedom in a generation is a different question, and the answer is likely to vary based on who you ask. Besides political activism, reporters tend to stay away from stories in which they’re directly implicated, since it tends to shape their perception.

But Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan took the somewhat counterintuitive stand that this makes it more important for him to lead: “Because of his personal experiences, someone like James Risen has an obligation to speak out strongly on press rights.”

There are of course good reasons why the government would wish to reduce leaking, but it’s also an essential outlet for whistleblowers. Leaks lubricate the machinery of free press.

Meanwhile, the White House has been working on a whole slate of methods for bypassing reporters—or at least national political reporters. That means disseminating information directly to the public through videos, White House blogs, and Medium, and granting interviews to late-night shows, local journalists, and YouTube celebrities rather than to folks like, well, The New York Times’ James Risen. President Obama has given notably few press conferences.

How does this compare to New Zealand?

Prime Minister John Key seems fairly accessible to media and to the public – but is this just when it suits him?

How much does he and his comms team play the media and suppress information they don’t want aired in public?

How closely  was Key to Jason Eade and Cameron Slater and their Dirty Politics?

How much is the Official Information Act abused by Government ministers?

There is always going to be reason to query what is happening and there is always going to be room for improvement with Government transparency, with eternal vigilance required to hold our politicians to account.

Leave a comment


  1. Pantsdownbrown

     /  29th March 2016

    Key has been our most open & available PM ever – some people like him for it, some hate him for it.

    • Clemgeopin

       /  29th March 2016

      Yeah? So how much did he pay with his tail between his legs in shame in compensation to the tea pot phone man and to the woman whose pony tail he repeatedly pulled in spite of her saying no and even threatening to punch him? And how much was the tax payers’ bribe to the Arab sheep sheik? AND what happened to his promise definitely not to raise the GST? And closing of the Adult night classes because they were all about ‘basket weaving’! And Oh, what is he hiding in his so called ‘blind trust’? Open and honest? My foot! Cool story bro.Tell me the answers to my questions or tell me another tall BS story!

      • artcroft

         /  29th March 2016

        Open doesn’t mean answering every question and giving up any and all details. Its an attitude and Key is renown for his accessibility to reporters. Still haters gonna hate I guess.

        • Clemgeopin

           /  29th March 2016

          No, I don’t hate him. I pity the fools that get fooled by him and his lying PR spin machine. May be you too will get enlightened one day when he takes off to USA after his stint with NZ is finished, leaving behind the long lasting damage to the NZ and the billions of dollars of enormous debt burden that he would leave behind for our future generations to pay back. In the meantime, enjoy the asset sales so kindly meant for the ‘mums and dads’, the soaring huge house prices, massive immigration influx, rusting railways, traffic jams, the increasing number of the poor, the sick and the homeless, the wonderful TPPA, Tax payer paid private money making Charter schools, catastrophic climate changes, damaging fracking, dirty rivers full of cow urine and shit, $2 billion dollars worth of tax cuts every year that primarily help the wealthy, the 15% GST on everything that primarily hit the poor, low wages, the highly profitable banks, super markets, corporates and multinationals that pay very little taxes……….etc. Enjoy!

          • BINGO! Clemgeopin ON FIRE!!! Speaks for PartisanZ too. Thank you.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  29th March 2016

            We will and do enjoy New Zealand. The loony Left will continue cursing and charging at your windmills all the way to their graves. You poor miserable deluded sod.

            • Clemgeopin

               /  29th March 2016

              I hit a sensitive nerve, did I? I am sure you are feeling much better now with your wind…and “all the way to the grave”. Good luck!!”

            • “We”, who are “we”? :-/ We enjoy all that, do WE?

              I enjoy Aotearoa-New Zealand too Alan, very much. This doesn’t mean its current government is beyond criticism.

              I liked the passion from Clemgeopin too. Beats the heck out of your dour, derogatory, negative Rightie super-bias (and projection) …

            • Clemgeopin

               /  29th March 2016

              It is not personal Alan. Just my view. You have every right to make yours. Sorry, I think I was too harsh in my comment about your wind and grave. Wish I could delete that. Have a very good and peaceful night. We just write our honest heartfelt opinions. We don’t run the government. THEY do! We just vote for them. Cheers.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  29th March 2016

              Why would you enjoy misanthropic deluded ranting and misname it as passion, PZ?

              Yes, we enjoy a NZ that survived the GFC and Chch earthquake with minimal disruption to lives and jobs through judicious financial management and increase in debt whose servicing is a very minor part of our budget. We enjoy the partial asset sales, despite the brainless and ruthlessly selfish sabotaging the Left indulged in, which have created more efficient companies, returning more to the Government than they did before the sales as well as helping reduce debt by the returns from the sales. We enjoy the booming economy that brings immigrants to NZ instead of Labours miserable record of NZers departing even during a boom time for commodity prices. We tolerate the moronic buyback by Labour of the millstone railway system but at least it is being modernised in Auckland after half a century of neglect. Likewise this Government has spent a huge amount on our shamefully neglected roading infrastructure – another half century of neglect.

              We enjoy the reduction in poverty we are seeing all over the world as well as in this country, the improvements in health services and life expectation, the benefits of freer trade and better trade agreements, Charter schools giving options and hope to parents they would not otherwise have had, our excellent and productive stable climate, our valuable oil and gas production, our wonderful scenic waterways and beaches, a reasonably sensible and relatively simple and straightforward tax system, good wages with little discrimination by sex, stable, efficient and honest banks and many excellent international corporates providing us with goods and services from all over the world.

              Except Clemgeopin. With his head in the sand and his feet in boiling water he is red all over and blind to everything that matters.

            • I hear what you’re saying Alan. I see your point, honestly. I see Clem’s too. I sort of promised myself I wasn’t going to get into shit fights here any more. I went ad-hominem on you there before and I regret it. I apologize.

              Gotta be honest though, I do think you’re overcompensating here. “Scenic waterways”? Some of them are only scenic because that’s all you can do any longer is look at them. You can’t swim in them or drink the water and the fish and other aquatic life is in bad shape.

              And charter schools? I’m sceptical about them. They may satisfy parents who want to bring their children up within their own religious sect, but is this necessarily ‘good’ for the child?

              Basically, just as you can counter any of Clemgeopins claims, so your own claims can equally be countered, most of them anyhow.

              I conclude the reality lies somewhere inbetween. I even went searching for some kind of broad picture of how NZ is doing right now but I can’t find anything very thorough. Statistics NZ has a bunch of stuff on –

              http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/people_and_communities/Well-being/nzgss-info-releases.aspx – and various other StatsNZ pages …

              I won’t link NZCCSS’s Poverty in NZ site, which would only fire up the old argument about what actually constitutes poverty and how to measure it. I find this disheartening. I’m going to concentrate on getting up to scratch on the Constitution discussions, Maori and Pakeha.


          • Oliver

             /  29th March 2016

            He shoots…. He scores!!! The left wins again. It must be hard defending the right when you have shonkey as your lustrous leader.

  2. Interesting topic. I ❤ Clemgeopin's fire above! Can't see anything that isn't true. I admire spirit in other people and there sure is a lot of righteous fire stacking up under 8 years of the Narional Party.

    What is accessibility? How many of us have had a beer, snapper or BBQ with Mr Key? A rather small amount I would suggest. We don't expect to be able, realistically, to have those moments with Mr Key though. What we do expect is that the people he does spend time with, the media, to give us a look behind the veil. Right?

    Then what the fuck is this wet bus ticket shit that the media, the press gallery in particular and a few journalists specifically are giving Mr Key on a GOOD day for them? This isn't about bashing Mr Key or playing "negative politics". His actions, the proven ones, suggest a man of some low moral fibre. His parties policies, the measurable ones, are mostly placeholders with some that may have great benefit long term. Others are fucking terrible. I don't fall into the trap of "FJK" though. He is just one man. His Cabinet and wider caucus, such as they are, share in all of positives and negatives of the last 8 years.

    This is about a PM who has DEFINITELY upped the dirty politics game considerably. McCarten et al have been made to look like school children. Labour are what they are and there're no blinkers on there. I don't see them being able to match National in DP.

    That's what it's come to hasn't it? Who can play the dirtiest? Who can shut down critics and people seeking justice? Who has an affiliated blog site putting in the big hits and getting clicks?

    It's come to "pfffft".

    It's come to "I do not recall".

    It's come to "I wasn't the PM at that moment".

    …. And where is our much maligned media? The supposed Fourth Estate?

    Propagating bullshit lines about Key being "accessible". Being critical of Key is seen to be adventurous or brave even. Holding power to account has somehow gotten much harder but the powerful are more accessible?

    Key represents the people who voted for him and elected him. It would be great if those people could avoid attacking the Left and take a look at the men and women they have given absolute power over our countries future.

    That's the sort of discussion that has become all but unnaccessible now.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  30th March 2016

      He hasn’t got absolute power. He is dependent on minor parties. However, I would love the opposition to be vastly more intelligent, constructive and credible. Unfortunately they are all captive to the loony Left with the exception of Winston who is just a hopeless narcissist.

      If Key has too much power blame the hopeless opposition, not him.

      • @ Alan – “If Key has too much power blame the hopeless opposition, not him.”

        I fail to see the legitimacy of this Alan, honestly. Let’s reword it? “The hopeless opposition gives John Key too much power.” I don’t think his power, or even his perceived ‘excess’ of power, is all derived from a weak opposition. I think there’s more to it than this and I think some of the things Ben and Clemgeopin identify are part of the complex mix.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  30th March 2016

          Too vague to discuss. I’m unimpressed by Ben’s comment too.

          • Pantsdownbrown

             /  30th March 2016

            Ben (and to a lessor degree Clemgeopin) has gone on an emotive conspiracy rant of epic proportions that has no basis in reality and fails to deal with the major deficiencies and rabid behaviours that are becoming all more frequent from the left – disappointing, but not unexpected. After all these are the sort of people that can’t see that Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ is the biggest, dirtiest one-sided political hit job in New Zealand history (and quite possibly the biggest political failure in New Zealand history).

            When your main focus of hatred and blame is on one man then you are in denial.

            When you perceive in your own mind that your narrow-minded view on the world is the majority opinion (or should be if people would only ‘wake up’) you are only fooling yourself.

            • Prove one thing wrong that I have said.

              You say I think that my opinion is the majority? Quote me.

              My main focus of hatred is Key? Quote me.

              Emotive conspiracy rant? Quote me.

              No basis in reality? You’re the one living in La La Land and making shit up to smear me just for having an opinion. Then again that IS like your Dear Leader so I can’t fault you for that.

              You’re very amusing to me so please continue your own emotive conspiracy rants. They’re pretty funny.

            • Pantsdownbrown

               /  30th March 2016

              What is funny though is a person with zero moral-fibre attacking somebody else for their lack of ethics…..

            • Pantsdownbrown

               /  30th March 2016

              By the way……love the bit where you and PZ agree with Clemgeopin and blame John Key for “catastrophic climate changes” – a nice touch to sum up the insanity.

            • You have a very low intellect and an even lower ability to argue coherently or logically. I hope that works out well for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: