A segement of MSNBC Live over the weekend addressed the spat between the media and the White House over photographers’ access to the activities of President Obama. The complaint is that the president’s handlers are keeping news photographers from key events and instead circulating official photographs — read: cheery! — to the public.
That issue, plus others, prompted veteran reporter Bob Franken to blast the current White House occupant, who promised to deliver massive transparency to Washington. “Every president gets to the point where he dislikes the press,” said Franken to host T.J. Holmes. “It’s that simple. And every administration tries to manipulate the press, but this is the most hostile to the media that [an administration] has been in United States history….”
Holmes stopped him: “Wait, you would go that far? The most hostile in history?”
Oh yes, said Franken. “First of all, we have this situation where they are in fact shutting out the press…. The reason I say most hostile is because of the Justice Department moves that they’ve made against the press. Obviously, they have a contempt for the journalistic process — those of us who are in journalism of course believe that it is vital if you’re going to have an informed electorate, as opposed to one that’s been propagandized.”
Franken sounded a lot like another gray-haired Washington journo. CBS News’s Bob Schieffer gave the following quote to former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie, for a report on Obama administration transparency: “When I’m asked what is the most manipulative and secretive administration I’ve covered, I always say it’s the one in office now,” Schieffer told Downie. “Every administration learns from the previous administration. They become more secretive and put tighter clamps on information. This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.”