Harassing members of the media

We Americans disagree, sometimes fiercely, about government policy and priorities. Liberals argue with conservatives. Republicans do battle with Democrats.

But on one thing, we must agree: No politician can be permitted to control the free press upon which Americans have depended for more than two centuries.

President Barack Obama’s administration has embarked on a campaign of manipulating – and intimidating – the news media. That ought to worry all of us.

About a year ago, Obama’s Justice Department seized call records for about 20 telephones used by The Associated Press at the organization’s offices in Washington, New York and Connecticut. At the same time it was revealed other reporters had been targeted, too.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission finally backed off a plan to intimidate broadcast journalists.

FCC officials had devised a plan to question television news reporters and editors – sometimes visiting their newsrooms to do so – about how they select stories to be covered. The agency also planned to check on whether television news departments cover “critical information needs” – as defined, of course, by the administration’s FCC. And the agency wanted to know how well broadcast news serves “vulnerable-disadvantage populations” – again, as defined by the FCC.

No television or radio station in the U.S. can operate without an FCC license. Again, a message was obviously being sent: Operate your newsrooms as Obama desires, or face the consequences.

Some experienced journalists have rated the Obama administration as the most secretive in their memories. It is all part of a pattern of attempting on a giant scale to control Americans’ access to information. It needs to stop.