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Opening Arguments

Pressing their luck

Things are getting so bad for press that journalists are starting to turn on the progressives they normally idolize. Liberals in power, it turns out, can be just as secretive and parnoid as anybody else.

First up, those loveable Clintons, making damn sure those pesky reporters don't deviate from the party line:

Of everything the Clintons have done over the years to frustrate reporters, it is not surprising that preventing them from doing their jobs has perhaps made journalists the most livid.

During a Clinton Global Initiative summit attended by flocks of reporters, many discovered that they were being tailed by Clinton minders to ensure that they did not conduct any unauthorized interviews. The impulse to follow reporters around, even to the bathrooms as was one reporter’s experience, in order to ensure the coverage of the CGI event didn’t deviate from the planned script sent some reporters into a tizzy. The result has been maybe the worst coverage CGI has ever received.

“[T]he episode also reflects the dark and, frankly, paranoid view the Clintons have toward the national media,” The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote. “Put simply: Neither Hillary nor Bill Clinton likes the media or, increasingly, sees any positive use for them.”

Then there is the meddling of the Obama White House:

Journalists who cover the White House say Obama’s press aides have demanded — and received — changes in press-pool reports before the reports have been disseminated to other journalists. They say the White House has used its unusual role as the distributor of the reports as leverage to steer coverage in a more favorable direction.

The disputed episodes involve mostly trivial issues and minor matters of fact. But that the White House has become involved at all represents a troubling trend for journalists and has prompted their main representative, the White House Correspondents’ Association, to consider revising its approach to pool reporting.

Finally, we have the U.S. Forest Service:

SEATTLE (AP) -- The U.S. Forest Service is proposing permanent new rules that would require media organizations to obtain a permit to film and shoot photographs in more than 100 million acres of the nation's wilderness.

Under the plan, the Forest Service would consider the nature of a proposed project before approving a special use permit then charge fees of up to $1,500 for commercial filming and photography in federally designated wilderness areas.

Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, said such rules would be a clear violation of the First Amendment and raises concerns about press freedom, including whether denying a permit would amount to prior restraint.

Basically, the press and public want all the information they can get their hands on, which is not unreasonable in a supposedly free republic, and government functionaries won't to hide everything they can. And I've learned over 40 years in this business that the tendency to become a control freak affects nearly everyone who ends up in the governdment, regardless of political philosophy.

But some can take it to extraordinary levels. Demanding changes in press pool reports doesn't count -- that's just a higher-level version of stuff every reporter who has ever covered City Hall encounters. Following someone to the bathroom does, and demanding a permit to take pictures in wildnerness areas is close to outrageous.