In what can only be truthfully described as a “shocking development,” the Associated Press has issued a fact check on former President Barack Obama’s claim that he “never threatened to shut” down media outlets or “call them enemies of the people.”
The AP concludes — shockingly — that Barack Obama “doesn’t always tell the straight story.”
The fact check specifically concerns comments Obama made while accepting an award in his home state of Illinois last week, where the former president compared his treatment of press outlets he didn’t quite care for, like Fox News, to current President Donald Trump’s feud with CNN.
“It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like,” Obama quipped. “I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people.”
Even the Associated Press, which is no right-leaning news outlet, was left scratching it’s head. Although President Donald Trump does have a very publicly contentious relationship with “biased” media outlets, the Obama administration targeted journalists and others with an ancient espionage act that allowed them to monitor and prosecute “leakers” — and they did both with gusto.
“The Obama administration used the 1917 Espionage Act with unprecedented vigor, prosecuting more people under that law for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous administrations combined. Obama’s Justice Department dug into confidential communications between news organizations and their sources as part of that effort,” the Associated Press reports.
Included in at least one Obama-era espionage dragnet were 20 AP reporters who were investigated for receiving classified information on a foiled Al Qaeda plot.
And then there’s the matter of a Fox News reporter who ran afoul of the Obama administration.
“Obama’s Justice Department also secretly dogged Fox News journalist James Rosen, getting his phone records, tracking his arrivals and departures at the State Department through his security-badge use, obtaining a search warrant to see his personal emails and naming him as a possible criminal conspirator in the investigation of a news leak,” the AP said.
The AP even gently reminds Obama that The New York Times thought that was a little much.
The fact check goes on, taking Obama to task for his claims on presiding over economic growth (questionable) and on President Donald Trump ripping health insurance away from 4 million Americans (the CDC notes that the number of uninsured remains essentially unchanged, even though there is no longer a Federal mandate to carry health insurance).
The AP also skewers the former president for claiming middle class families experienced growth in household income (they didn’t) and that Trump’s jobless rate is the result of his economic policies (fair, but experts do credit Trump’s economic policies with continued growth in hiring).
Maybe Obama shouldn’t be so eager to get back on the campaign trail if he’s lost even his friends in the media.