It’s more good than bad that a lot of mainstream reporters are speaking openly about the chilling effect of the Obama White House’s investigations into leaks of classified material. But this willingness to talk about how the White House operates can lead some journalists to make some rather strange arguments.
Information management has become so sophisticated, every administration learns from the previous one. Each finds new ways to control the flow of information. It’s reached the point that if I want to interview anyone in the administration on camera–from the lowest-level worker to a White House official–I have to go through the White House Press Office. If their chosen spokesman turns out to have no direct connection to the story of the moment, as was the case when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to explain the Benghazi episode, then that’s what we and you the taxpayer get.
This is especially unfortunate, considering that federal law that requires Sunday shows to book only government officials…. Oh wait, never mind. Bob Schieffer can book anyone he wants to book for his show. So what’s the point in whining about who the White House will permit you to speak with?
But while we’re on the subject, I was struck by one comment made on Face the Nation by ubiquitous TV pundit David Gergen. He liked Obama’s recent speech on terrorism policy, but then made this strange claim:
But the speech at the end of the day did not address what the really hard our issues are: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, especially Iran, weapons of mass destruction coming out of Iran could throw all of this out. We could be right back in a war on terror.
One has to assume he’s talking about nuclear weapons, and there’s no intelligence to suggest that Iran has any such program. And it’s not especially clear why we could be “right back in a war on terror” if Iran did have nuclear weapons; why would Iran possessing such weapons be any more “terror” than Israel or Pakistan having them?
I get that Bob Schieffer is annoyed by the White House making it difficult to book certain guests on his show. I would assume booking David Gergen is pretty easy. But does he know what he’s talking about when it comes to Iran? If not, maybe someone at CBS should consider booking a different guest next time.