First lady Michelle Obama took thinly veiled jabs at China’s censorship of media and the Internet while on her spring trip.
Meanwhile, her husband is about to abandon U.S. control over administration of the Internet, and his administration consistently earns a reputation for being the most secretive and opaque since Richard Nixon’s.
“It is so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media because that’s how we discover the truth, that’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities, in our country and our world,” Mrs. Obama said at Peking University.
“My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens, and it’s not always easy, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world because time and again, we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices of – and opinions of all – their citizens can be heard,” she said.
Those comments may have come across as more sincere if not for the White House’s persistent stonewalling.
Don’t just take our word for it.
An Associated Press analysis of federal Freedom of Information Act data last year found that the administration censored or outright denied access to government files more than ever since Obama took office.
Don’t forget the Federal Communications Commission attempted to embed regulators in broadcast newsrooms under the supposedly benign guise of a “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” before calling it off earlier this year.
More startling is the 2014 World Press Freedom Index by the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, which reported the U.S. has fallen from 32nd to 46th in press freedom under the Obama administration.
New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson last year said Obama’s White House “is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering.” Times reporter James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize winner, leveled an even more searing indictment at a journalism conference last week when he said the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”
You know the problem is serious when employees of the Times – the standard bearer of liberal journalism – are crying foul.
The first lady’s musings on press freedom apparently didn’t apply to her own press corps. The Washington Times wrote that reporters were having difficulty getting such innocuous details as what Mrs. Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping ate during their dinner.
“Reporters say that they have been blocked from events, screamed at by officials, held back with red tape and told not to move from prepositioned lookouts, possibly to avoid taking embarrassing photos,” The Washington Times reported.
Since China’s communist government controls its media and blocks Western social networking sites, the citizens of China are oblivious to the opacity of the Obama administration.
Sadly, many Americans are becoming oblivious, too.
The first lady should be applauded for speaking out abroad in favor of free speech.
She should lecture her husband about domestic press freedom when she returns home.