GBU Mountain News LXXI August 20, 2014.pdf


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GBU Mountain News
August 20, 2014 - LXXI
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According to many journalists and transparency
advocates the administration of U.S. President Obama
and the White House itself curb routine disclosure of
information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny
by the press. “This is the most closed, control freak
administration I’ve ever covered,” said David E. Sanger,
veteran chief Washington correspondent of The New
York Times.
Not providing information or obstructing the important
work of the news media is also prevalent in many local
governments throughout the U.S. This includes certain
departments within the Kern County Administration as
well. The Sheriff's Office and the Bakersfield Police
Department practice a policy of openness and
transparency. Other departments, to name only the
Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Division and the
rather obscure Office of Kern County Counsel, are
consistently unresponsive or hostile to press inquiries.
Like the Obama administration these Kern County
agencies disclose too little of the information most
needed by the press and public to hold them accountable
for their policies and actions. Even very locally, from
public school districts to government contractors, there is
an ongoing effort to shield and obscure the business of
government from the public and necessary
accountability.
The Obama administration
 has established legal policies that disrupt
relationships between journalists and government
sources;
 has established surveillance programs that cast doubt
on journalists’ ability to protect those sources;
 has implemented restrictive practices for disclosing
information that make it more difficult to hold the
government accountable for its actions and decisionmaking;
 makes use of administration-controlled media to
circumvent scrutiny by the press.
Just one example for the too many intimidating activities
of the federal government: On May 13, 2013 the Justice
Department informed the Associated Press (AP) that as
part of its investigation of a AP story in 2012 about the
CIA’s covert operation in Yemen, it had secretly
subpoenaed and seized all records for twenty AP
telephone lines and switchboards for April and May of
2012. The records included outgoing calls for the work
and personal phone lines of individual reporters, for AP
news bureau lines in New York, Washington, and
Hartford, Connecticut, and for the main AP phone

number in the press gallery of the U.S. House of
Representatives. Although only five AP reporters and an
editor were involved in the May 12, 2012, Yemen story,
“thousands upon thousands of newsgathering calls” by
more than 100 AP journalists using newsroom, home,
and mobile phones were included in the seized records.
Subsequently, a coalition of more than 50 American
news media organizations—including the Newspaper
Association of America, National Association of
Broadcasters, American Society of News Editors, Society
of Professional Journalists, ABC, NBC, CNN, NPR,
Gannett, McClatchy, Tribune, The New York Times, and
The Washington Post—joined the Reporters Committee
for the Freedom of the Press in a strong protest letter to
the Department of Justice.
If this kind of intimidation takes place on the highest
level of government, the bullying actions of law
enforcement officers in Ferguson, Missouri should come
to no surprise. Once the Department of Justice began
using its own police powers against the First Amendment
rights of the news media and the public’s interest in
reporting all manner of government conduct, than a local
trooper will follow suit.
As journalists throughout the U.S. state much too often,
"there is across-the-board hostility to the media... they
don’t return repeated phone calls and e-mails... instead,
they feel entitled to and expect supportive media
coverage.”
None of these measures is anything like the government
controls, censorship, repression, physical danger, and
even death that journalists and their sources face daily in
many countries throughout the world—from Asia, the
Middle East and Africa to parts of Eastern Europe and
Latin America. However 45 nations around the globe
guarantee and ensure a higher level of Freedom of the
Press than the United States.
The administration of government has become more
complex, the opportunities for malfeasance and
corruption have multiplied, crime has grown to most
serious proportions, and the danger of its protection by
unfaithful officials and of the impairment of the
fundamental security of life and property by criminal
alliances and official neglect, emphasizes the primary
need of a vigilant and courageous press.
Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948)
Chief Justice of the United States

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