Andrea Mitchell: 'More Than Any of Its Predecessors,' Obama Administration Has Targeted Journalists
Longtime MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell on Thursday lashed out at the Obama administration, complaining that "more than any of its predecessors in recent years [they have], gone after journalists." The usually Obama-friendly journalist complained that the White House "has not" challenged journalists in a restrained way, but "has done it in a very broad, sweeping way as we saw with the Associated Press and also with Fox News." [MP3 audio here.]
In another segment, Mitchell skeptically commented on the President's renewed effort to close Guantanamo Bay: "But do we have a solution yet, first of all, for those, for whom there is no place to go and who cannot be brought to trial?" Talking to Jeh Johnson, she pressed, "What about the residual group of prisoners? Where will they go?"
On May 14, Mitchell declared the IRS and AP scandals to be one of the "most outrageous excesses I've seen."
On Wednesday, Chris Matthews railed against the IRS revelations, assailing the department for "profiling" conservatives. The well-known liberal likened it to targeting innocent Arabs.
The New York Times's Mark Lander adopted a curious, tentative response. Previewing Obama's future comments about the press scandals, he hedged to Mitchell: "So, I think the tone here will be very interesting. How much of an emphasis he puts on the need to provide for aggressive investigative reporting. I think that's something we'll all be listening closely for."
A transcript of the May 22 segment is below:
[On Obama's scandals]
ANDREA MITCHELL: And finally, Mark, on the subject of these leak investigations. He's going to say he believes in press freedoms, that they need to go after leakers, but not reporters who are doing their jobs. Yet at the same time, this administration has more than any of its predecessors in recent years, gone after journalists and has not, has not done it in a targeted fashion, has done it in a very broad, sweeping way as we saw with the Associated Press and also with Fox News.
MARK LANDLER (New York Times): Yeah. I mean, obviously Andrea, for people in our business, we'll be listening very carefully to the type of balance he strikes between the need for, not just a free press, but the right of reporters to aggressively investigate national security issues. And on the other hand, the need to protect the country's national security. He addressed this in brief terms a week ago when he appeared with the Turkish prime minister. At that time, he kind of put his hand, I think, more on the need to protect national security, even as his administration is now once again supporting a media shield law. So, I think the tone here will be very interesting. How much of an emphasis he puts on the need to provide for aggressive investigative reporting. I think that's something we'll all be listening closely for.
ANDREA MITCHELL: What the President is doing today is basically trying to reengage congress in getting some of those prisoners sent back, sent to Yemen in particular. And making it possible to close Guantanamo. But do we have a solution yet, first of all, for those, for whom there is no place to go and who cannot be brought to trial? What about the residual group of prisoners? Where will they go?
JEH JOHNSON (Fmr. Pentagon Counsel): Well, in the first year of the Obama administration, there was a very close examination detainee by detainee. To see whether some could released, some could be transferred. My hope and belief is that over the last couple years, given the direction and effort, the politics of this issue on the hill has changed. And Congress has lightened up a bit on the realization that some of these issues should be transferred or repatriated. And I think the security system has changed, specifically in Yemen where we've built up a pretty good counter-terrorism relationship with the government there and the security situation there may be significantly different from when the Obama administration determined that we needed to suspend transfers to that country.
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.