- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The mainstream media is freaking out over what it thinks are going to be restrictions on its First Amendment rights under President-Elect Donald Trump.

“Everything we have — everything that makes us unlike any other nation — flows from those words and the protections they offer for free expression,” Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist for The Washington Post wrote on Nov. 13. “Donald Trump’s presidency is very likely to threaten those First Amendment rights.”

Last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of journalists, said in a statement: “Trump has consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press beyond offering publicity to him and advancing his interests.”

“This is not about picking sides in an election,” the statement added. “This is recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”

The group’s board consists of Associated Press executive editor Kathleen Carroll, New Yorker editor David Remnick, CBS New correspondent Lara Logan, Univision boss Isaac Lee and many other mainstream media journalists.

Yet, the left — and especially President Obama — have shown repeatedly their indifference to the First Amendment, a fact these journalists carelessly ignore in making their case against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Obama’s administration set dangerous precedents, and the left, for years has been shutting down the opposition through their use of “safe-spaces” and “trigger warnings.”

“For nearly eight years, President Obama massively expanded his authority on national security issues: on the prosecution of whistleblowers, secret surveillance courts, wars without congressional authorization, and drone campaigns without public oversight,” wrote Tim Mak of the Daily Beast. “During this time the left, with the exception of some civil liberties groups, remained largely silent.”

The New York Times and the ACLU had to sue Mr. Obama’s administration to get basic legal documents on the government’s position on targeted killing through drone strikes — as if some part of U.S. law should be secret.

And it was Mr. Obama’s Department of Justice that subpoenaed the telephone records of AP journalists to track down a leak. It also investigated Fox News journalist James Rosen and named him as a “co-conspirator” in a leak about North Korea’s nuclear program. The Justice Department charged Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a State Department contractor who was Mr. Rosen’s source, with violating the Espionage Act.

“The Justice Department used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit,” The Post reported at the time. “They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal emails.”

Mr. Obama used the Espionage Act against government whistle-blowers who shared secret information with reporters more than any other administration in history, the Daily Beast’s Mr. Mak reported.

Now that’s some scary stuff.

And as the Federalist noted, the left’s infringement on First Amendment rights isn’t just through the expansion of executive powers, it’s also cultural.

“When mainstream media outlets collectively applaud the boycott of a rural pizza parlor, or the ruination of Brendan Eich, or the persecution of florists and bakers and elderly nuns who hold disfavored political views, it sends a strong message that freedom of speech doesn’t mean anything,” the Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson wrote.

“On college campuses across the country, liberal professors encourage their students to boycott and protest conservative speakers, shout down administrators who dare to challenge them, and segregate themselves from anyone who might have a different view. Couched in the language of ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings,’ the Left’s enforcement of political correctness has created a climate of intolerance that goes beyond the campus,” Mr. Davidson added.

Indeed.

So before the collective freakout of the mainstream media, speculating about Mr. Trump’s presidency, perhaps they should take an inward look of what’s happened in the last eight years.

Mr. Obama’s presidency created some uncomfortable precedents when it came to secrecy. Transparent, it was not.

“This is a good rule: Don’t answer any questions when they start yelling at you,” Mr. Obama advised Mr. Trump when reporters started shouting questions at the two after their first Oval Office meeting this month.

Mr. Trump is just inheriting Mr. Obama’s legacy.

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