(NaturalNews) The concept of a “free press” is all but dead and buried in America today, it seems. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of investigative reporters in the United States believe that the government has “probably collected data about their phone calls, emails or online communications, and eight-in-ten believe that being a journalist increases the likelihood that their data will be collected.”
This is a shocking revelation, especially considering the fact that the current administration promised to be “the most transparent” in the nation’s history. In fact, the Obama Administration has shown itself to be remorseless in pursuing those who leak information to the press and in spying on reporters who dare to investigate its activities.
A free press is fundamental to a free society, and perhaps the most troubling aspect of this story is the fact that so few reporters seem outraged or even concerned about the government’s interference in their profession. It’s as if we as a society have become used to the idea that privacy is no longer a basic human right.
It’s bad enough when the average citizen has given up on the idea that it’s wrong for our government to spy on us, but when members of the press accept surveillance as a fact of life, it would seem to indicate that our society is in deep trouble.
Although most investigative reporters say that the spying has not affected their reporting, a significant percentage admit that they have modified their journalistic approach.
From the Pew report:
Just 14% say that in the past 12 months, such concerns have kept them from pursuing a story or reaching out to a particular source, or have led them to consider leaving investigative journalism altogether.
However, 49 percent say they have “at least somewhat changed the way they store or share sensitive documents.” And 29 percent admit they have changed the way they communicate with “other reporters, editors or producers.”
Within the past year, nearly 40 percent “have at least somewhat changed the way they communicate with sources.” As Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner put it, the survey “makes Richard Nixon’s enemies list look like child’s play.” The Nixon Administration was notorious for its monitoring and harassment of members of the press, but compared to Obama, his activities do seem rather tame in retrospect.
One of the few journalists who has been outspoken on the matter is Sharyl Attkisson. She is the author of a new book entitled Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, in which she claims that the government has harassed her, spied on her and even planted “incriminating evidence” on her computer’s hard drive.
Attkisson has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, charging that her computer was hacked by the government while she was working on new stories concerning the attack on Benghazi, Obamacare, and the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” gunwalking program.
While Attkisson should, of course, be applauded for defending journalistic integrity, many other members of the press should be ashamed for allowing the government to stifle their voices. It seems as if the mainstream news has become mere entertainment, designed to sell airtime to commercial interests and to pacify a dumbed-down populace.
Luckily, with the advent of the internet, other sources of information are available to those who know where to look. But the majority of Americans still get their news from the big networks, which — no matter what their political affiliation — seem content to provide the masses with watered-down stories of little substance, or even truth.
If we don’t manage to restore the practice of real journalism in America, we shall have very little hope for the future of our once-free society.