In Trump's Scary Move Against Reporter, Blame Obama, Too

Margaret Sullivan writes that Trump is following aggressive precedent set by his predecessor
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2018 5:30 PM CDT
Trump Made Big Move Against a Reporter. Blame Obama, Too
In this Jan. 18, 2017, photo, President Barack Obama speaks during his final presidential news conference.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The Justice Department has seized the email and phone records of a journalist as it investigates leaks. It's a chilling development for "every serious reporter," not to mention anyone concerned about freedom of the press, writes media columnist Margaret Sullivan in the Washington Post. But for all those expressing shock and dismay at President Trump and his administration, Sullivan provides a dose of reality: They're just following the template laid down by President Obama. The previous White House supboenaed the phone records of AP journalists, used the Espionage Act to pursue leakers no fewer than nine times, and went after Fox News reporter James Rosen as a "co-conspirator" regarding a leak about North Korea.

In short, the Obama White House has an embarrassing record on press freedom. Things improved in the second term, but "despite the Obama endgame, no one could erase what had happened," writes Sullivan. "The dangerous precedent was set." Sure, Trump makes no secret of his disdain for the "fake news media" and his desire to toughen libel laws, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has followed Trump's lead in pursuing leaks. That makes this week's development "predictable," writes Sullivan. "But no one can claim to be shocked." Click to read her full column. (Read more President Obama stories.)

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