Amid all the fallout from the disastrous White House Correspondents Dinner — in which a left-wing comedian crossed the line so egregiously and so frequently that C-SPAN had to cut off its coverage of the event and The Hill has announced that it will no longer be participating — several media members have revived the “Trump’s War On The Media” alarmism.
In response to comedian Michelle Wolf dropping “p***y” bombs, brutal abortion jokes, and viciously attacking Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a manner met with widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle, Trump unloaded once again on the media:
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is DEAD as we know it. This was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country and all that it stands for. FAKE NEWS is alive and well and beautifully represented on Saturday night!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2018
Among those sounding the alarm over Trump’s condemnation of the dinner and “FAKE NEWS” are The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple and CNN’s Brian Stelter, who complained about Trump being “committed to undoing journalism.”
>> @ErikWemple: “The president of the United States is committed to undoing journalism, and the country’s top journalists are debating a dinner format.” https://t.co/iokBFVjaRS — Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) April 30, 2018
But Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, who has never shied away from criticizing Trump when he goes too far in his comments on the media, offered Stelter & co. a reality check:
I love that the media are suddenly troubled about a president who has attempted to jail zero journalists and who has presided over the leakiest administration in history. https://t.co/LsbrXYs9sc
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) April 30, 2018
Shapiro is correct. Despite the Trump administration suffering leaks at an unprecedented rate, it has taken no real legal action against leaker journalists. That stands in stark contrast to the Obama administration. As James Risen, one of the previous administration’s targets, detailed in an opinion piece for The New York Times, the Obama administration prosecuted more cases against whistle-blowers and leakers than all previous administrations in American history:
Criticism of Mr. Obama’s stance on press freedom, government transparency and secrecy is hotly disputed by the White House, but many journalism groups say the record is clear. Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.
Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.
For a real “War on the Press,” Wemple and Stelter need to look back to the self-described “most transparent administration in history” overseen by the media darling Obama, not at the tweet-happy Trump, whose bark is far worse than his bite. Here’s more from Risen about his personal battle with the Obama administration:
I experienced this pressure firsthand when the administration tried to compel me to testify to reveal my confidential sources in a criminal leak investigation. The Justice Department finally relented — even though it had already won a seven-year court battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court to force me to testify — most likely because they feared the negative publicity that would come from sending a New York Times reporter to jail.