Political columnist and Former CNN reporter Bob Franken says the Obama administration has been "the most hostile to the media" of any presidency in U.S. history.
Speaking Saturday on MSNBC, Franken said the White House's recent move to limit access for photojournalists to presidential events is a reflection of its contempt for the press.
"It’s not what you’re supposed to do in the United States of America. But we have an administration, every president gets to the point where he dislikes the press. It’s that simple. And every administration tries to manipulate the press. But this is the most hostile to the media that has been in United States history," he said.
Franken added that the seizures
by the Justice Department of journalists' records also indicate the administration's hostility toward the media. In one case, prosecutors obtained a warrant to search Fox News correspondent James Rosen's emails, naming him a "co-conspirator" in leaks involving his reporting on North Korea. In a separate case, the agency seized Associated Press phone records
without prior notification as part of a probe into leaks about a Yemen-based plot to bomb a U.S. plane.
Franken's comments came on the heels of a complaint by dozens of leading news organizations about increasingly limited access for photojournalists and cameramen at White House events.
"Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the president while he is performing his official duties," 38 new groups wrote in a recent letter
addressed to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist's camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the executive branch of government."
The White House has defended its policy of blocking photojournalists from covering certain events, saying sometimes an event cannot accommodate photographers. It has also said that its practice of releasing its own photos and video footage is in keeping with the president's pledge for transparency and gives the American public "even greater access to behind-the-scenes footage or photographs of the president doing his job."
Franken, however, said the White House's explanation is "disingenuous."
"When they say you can't have every photographer in, they know full-well that there's a thing called a pool, which is to say you have one representative from each of the media that represents all of them and shares the pictures and the sound and all that kind of thing. So that's totally disingenuous, which is a polite word," he said.
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