10.24.2014 1

New Hampshire’s Shaheen no friend to Press Freedom

Shaheen-021109-18432- 0009By Rick Manning

The news broke out of New Hampshire two evenings ago that the campaign of Senator Jeanne Shaheen barred BreitbartNews reporter Matt Boyle from attending one of their open to the media events.

Multiple news outlets on all ranges of the political spectrum have, at this writing, been stymied in their attempts to get a comment from the Senator about this decision to pick and choose which reporters can attend her political functions.

One thing Shaheen cannot say is that she supports the First Amendment.  In fact, Shaheen actually voted just last month on a Constitutional Amendment that would replace the current First Amendment speech protections with a longer version that allows Congress to stifle political speech.

But the increasingly desperate New Hampshire Senator was not alone in her disdain for the First Amendment as she was joined by 46 other Senate Democrats.

In July, Republican Senator Mike Lee reminded Shaheen and the rest of his and her colleagues about the importance of the right to free speech when he said, “Freedom of speech is not simply one among many liberties protected in the Bill of Rights—it is absolutely essential to the health of our Republic. This is especially true of political speech, even when it contradicts the will of the prevailing order.”

However, no one should be surprised that Senator Shaheen denied access to a reporter with an outlet that has not endorsed her candidacy to an “open to the media” event, when the Obama Administration has taken even more unprecedented aim at reporters.

James C. Goodale, who represented The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case, wrote in a Times column titled, “Only Nixon Harmed a Free Press More” that the Obama Administration’s case against  Fox News reporter James Rosen for talking to a government leaker, “is a further example of how President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom.”

In a separate case, New York Times reporter James Risen faces jail time as Obama’s Justice Department seeks to compel him to reveal his sources.  Risen, whose case has become a mini-cause celebre in the White House press corps, has called Obama, “the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

Beyond the two cases cited above, this Administration has staged an early morning raid on the home of a Washington Times reporter confiscating her records including the names of a number of whistleblowers at the Transportation Security Administration.  The Justice Department has covertly obtained the phone records for an entire Associated Press office in order to figure out the names of whistleblowers.  And Obama’s FCC attempted to put a media content monitor into broadcast news rooms in a clear threat to the federally controlled broadcast licenses to those who dared not tow the Administration line.

Fortunately, this plan was jettisoned under a hail of criticism.

This doesn’t even touch on Obama’s IRS’ abuse of power in their attempt to deny speech to conservative groups, and targeting donors for audits to intimidate them and others from political involvement.

So, is it any wonder that Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire would feel quite comfortable trying to muzzle a media member who she deemed antagonistic to her increasingly dire chances for re-election?

After all, The Hill reports that Obama said just days ago that, “lawmakers avoiding him on the campaign trail were ‘strong allies and supporters’ who have ‘supported my agenda in Congress’.”

With the Boyle event, New Hampshire’s Shaheen showed that not only has she been one of Obama’s most staunch supporters in the Senate, she clearly also approves of his running roughshod over the inconvenient freedom of the press.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government

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