Politicians grumbling about reporters they view as unfriendly or unfair is nothing new. Indeed, complaints about media bias have been around as long as the media itself. But hostility against the press seems to have been taken to a new level during the Obama administration, with officials using their executive authority to intimidate reporters, including most recently TCO’s own Washington Correspondent, Audrey Hudson.
The signs of Obama’s fixation with power started to take shape when the Justice Department demanded voluminous records from several reporters and editors working for the Associated Press, supposedly to investigate breaches of national security – despite the AP’s cooperation with the CIA.
Another high-profile case involved Fox News reporter James Rosen, whom Obama’s apparatchiks labeled in court documents a possible “criminal co-conspirator” in a leak of classified intelligence about North Korea.
And of course all of these recent cases took place against a backdrop of President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service’s conducting a far-reaching and politically-motivated probe designed to effectively silence conservative non-profit groups the White House regards as enemies.
Now, it appears this Nixonian pattern of executive branch harassment may have even reached the Colorado Observer.
In August, “investigators” with the Department of Homeland Security and the state of Maryland invaded the home of TCO correspondent Audrey Hudson on the pretext of looking for a potato launcher allegedly belonging to her husband.
By all accounts, however, it now appears that these “investigators” were less interested in potato launchers than they were in Ms. Hudson’s notes and files containing information about her sources in Homeland Security and its various agencies – particularly background information related to several stories detailing the incompetence and mendacity of air marshals who told Congress that they were covering more flights than they actually were.
And it isn’t as though we are speculating about this. One of the federal investigators admitted as much during the predawn raid on Aug. 6, asking Hudson directly if she was indeed the author of the stories about the air marshals that appeared in The Washington Times.
After the files were seized, Hudson then made the incident public to warn her sources they had been compromised – sources that many fear may now face retribution and persecution at the hands of their administration bosses.
Earlier this year, Obama said he was “troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.”
We at The Observer are, shall we say, unconvinced by Obama’s hollow words – which so often run counter to his actions.
Even so, we hope that the fawning mainstream media, which so often turns a blind eye to Obama’s misdeeds and repeated overreaches, will finally call him out for going too far. At the very least, the press should speak in a unified voice in condemning the feds for confiscating Hudson’s documents in the first place.
Supporters of the president will complain that The Observer only cares about this case because it involves one of our own. And we readily admit that this case does strike close to home.
But this kind of systemic intimidation of journalists and critics is something that should strike close to home with every journalist, political commentator and activist — regardless of their ideological stripe.
After all, even “friendly” journalists and advocates are only one election – or one critical word – away from being on the receiving end of the same kind of totalitarian tactics deployed by this administration against investigative news practitioners like the Associated Press, Fox News’ Mr. Rosen, and our own Ms. Hudson.