Saturday, October 25, 2014

Attkisson’s abdication a bigger problem

Government officials are becoming increasingly afraid to speak with the press under Obama’s administration

I used to think the news was a form of information given to the public in an objective and truthful manner, putting accuracy and honesty first. Then I watched MSNBC after watching Fox News, and I realized I was young and naïve.

As I discovered the reality of media bias and what it means for us as American citizens, I thought about the implications that our political system has on the news-gathering industry and how it has affected investigate reporters trying to do their job.

RESIGN — CBS investigative correspondent announced she was leaving March 10. Google Images

RESIGN — CBS investigative correspondent announced she was leaving March 10. Google Images

One of these investigative reporters is Sharyl Attkisson, a journalist who always questioned the questionable and never took no for an answer. Her reporting was seen by many as objective and exhaustively investigative. Unfortunately, this honest and accurate reporting caused a chasm of inordinate measure between her and the CBS brass, resulting in her departure from “America’s Most Watched Network.”

As I read through the reports and looked into her reporting, I saw an interesting pattern that CBS denied. Her thirst for truth and transparency in a White House administration most adverse to these qualities did not line up with that of CBS’ agenda.

However, something deeper lies within the problem of Attkisson’s conflict with CBS. It is not just the issue of media bias. The real problem lies within what investigative reporters have been saying about the Obama Administration. After promising transparency and openness, Obama’s administration is now known as one of the most closed-off and opaque White House administrations in the history of the presidency.

“In the Obama Administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press,” Leonard Downie, Jr. wrote in a special report for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records.”

As I studied the report, I started to realize the real issue.

“An ‘Insider Threat Program’ being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues,” Downie wrote.

Media bias has been around for a while, and will continue to be. However, in a nation where journalism is encouraged and transparency is rewarded, the Obama administration is waging a war on leaks and thorough investigation for fear of their actions being shown to the public.

“I think we have a real problem,” New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane said in a statement to CPJ’s special report. “Most people are deterred by those leaks’ prosecutions. They’re scared to death. There’s a gray zone between classified and unclassified information, and most sources were in that gray zone. Sources are now afraid to enter that gray zone. It’s having a deterrent effect.”

Attkisson herself will be speaking about the challenges of investigative reporting within the Obama Administration in her book entitled “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington.”

Reading through this special report — which I highly suggest you read — I was amazed as 30 journalists from a number of news agencies talked of the struggles they faced as they attempted to investigate and uncover the truth of the current administration, just like Attkisson tried to do while under the leadership of CBS.

Whether the reports were on the Benghazi attack, the Fast and Furious gun scandal or the IRS targeting conservative groups, the White House Administration has been closed off and belittling of any journalist who dares look any further.

Some may question why so much attention should be given to things which have been proven to lead nowhere. To this, I respond by asking how much attention a robbery in a hotel, which happened to be called Watergate, should have been given. However, two journalists knew there was something deeper, and they began one of the biggest political investigations in American history, eventually leading to the impeachment of the president of the United States.

If a hotel robbery was given this much attention, why should an attack on our own embassy in a highly dangerous area be swept off the table?

I am disappointed in this administration’s efforts to keep information within the white-washed walls of a building once known for serving, protecting and informing the American people. I can only hope the future president will restore integrity and transparency to the White House so people like Attkisson can do their job effectively and accurately.

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