“A Bad Time for Press Freedoms”

The Columbia Journalism Review has an interesting interview with James Goodale, former general counsel and vice chairman of The New York Times and author of the forthcoming book Fighting for the Press. Goodale is very critical of the current Administration’s hostility to press freedoms — “Worse than Nixon” — and the relative lack of critical response from journalists. As the CJR story notes, the Obama Administration “the Obama administration has prosecuted more alleged leakers of national security information under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined.” Goodale also expressed particular concern about Administration efforts to force journalists to reveal sources of classified information.

Why aren’t more people angry about what they see as Obama’s aversion to press freedom?

They don’t believe it. I actually have talked to two investigative reporters who are household names, and I said, “Do you realize what’s happening to you if this goes forward?” And I talk, I get no response, and the subject shifts to other parts of the book. No one seems to care.

So you think that if John McCain or Mitt Romney were the president and doing this, there would be a different response?

We’d be screaming and yelling and the journalists would be going crazy. And that doesn’t speak well of journalists.