WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Former executive editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, spoke of being “fired” from the paper in May, and also her belief that the Obama White House is the most secretive administration she ever dealt with in her career.
Speaking with Fox News on Wednesday, Abramson said she has covered politics since the Carter administration, but the Obama administration is easily the least transparent White House to reporters that has “put a freeze” on journalists.
“I think it’s easy to demonstrate that that’s true,” Abramson said of the Obama administration’s lack of campaign promise transparency. “I’ve never dealt with an administration where more officials, some of whom are actually paid to be the spokesmen for various federal agencies, demand that everything be off the record.
“So that is secretive and not transparent. But the most serious thing is the Obama administration has launched a criminal leak investigation against sources and whistleblowers, and they’ve tried to sweep in journalists.”
Abramson said that the Obama administration has “really have put a freeze” and “interrupted the normal flow of journalists who want to cover Washington and national security, especially.”
“It’s profoundly different,” said Abramson, who reiterated that criminal investigations into reporters is evidence that the Obama administration has a glaring lack of transparency and has added to chilling effects on government reporting.
Abramson said the criminal leak investigations “outweigh all of the good” efforts they’ve made for more transparency. She pointed out that “how closed and difficult” the administration is to deal with reporters. In addition, 38 journalism organizations sent a protest letter about the White House’s tight security against journalists.
When asked about chilling effect of the Obama administration, Abramson said, “All I can tell you is until I was fired I spoke every day almost to our national security team in Washington and almost all of the reporters have said to me that there has never been a more difficult atmosphere in which to do the work that they do until now.
“To criminalize the work of journalists I think is not living up to what the founders, Thomas Jefferson – not to get all heavy on you; the founders wanted a free press…that work actually serves a purpose in holding the government accountable to the people, that’s what we do.”
Abramson noted Times reporter James Risen’s current predicament in which he needs either President Barack Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder’s vindication from a CIA case testimony in order to avoid jail time “for doing his job,” as Holder said of Risen’s ongoing situation.