In the 18th Century it was common in Europe to cut off the testicles of promising male singers prior to puberty in order to retain their feminine-like singing voices. They were called castratos.
From the time of the ancient Greeks until the Renaissance, Byzantine and Asian rulers cut off the testicles of harem guards to prevent them from succumbing to temptation. They were called eunuchs.
In post-modern America, people cut off their ethical testicles at the snap of Attorney General Eric Holder’s fingers to attend a lap-dog press briefing where only Holder-approved reports can be published. They are called Washington Post editors and reporters.
Revelations of Holder-authorized Justice Department rooting through confidential communications of reporters and journalists for the Associated Press and Fox News are causing an inside-the-beltway meltdown in the Obama administration the likes of which hasn’t been since the resignation of Richard Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell.
Who was assigned the task of looking into the matter? None other than Eric Holder himself: Holder investigating Holder who reports back to Holder who then reports to President Obama. Think of the savings in personnel costs. A Twitter rumor has it that in self-investigating Holder failed to give himself a Miranda warning, thus making him immune from potential prosecution.
Rumors are that in self-investigating AP/Fox News scandals Eric #Holder failed to Mirandize himself thus making him immune from prosecution
— Scott St. Clair (@PiperScott1949) May 29, 2013
While the Obama administration and the Justice Department sought to justify its snooping on national security grounds, the better case is that it was political payback for making the president look bad in the papers. If you don’t do it their way, there’s hell to pay – in this case the FBI rooting through your emails, or, in the case of Fox’s James Rosen, your mother’s emails.
A damage-control press briefing was hastily called to smooth things over, with Holder demanding that it be off the record. Most news organizations – Fox, the AP, CNN, The New York Times — refused to attend under those conditions, but The Post was Johnny on the spot, notebook in hand and eager to have its reporting on the meeting censored by Holder. In The Post’s own words:
“The 90-minute meeting was attended by a small group of journalists after several news organizations objected to the Justice Department’s insistence that it be held off the record. The participants, however, reached an agreement with the Justice Department under which they could describe what occurred during the meeting in general terms. The Justice Department is expected to meet with other news organizations and media lawyers in coming days“(emphasis added).
In other words, Post copy was redacted of specifics and blue-penciled into “general terms” by Holder and crew – The Post acquiesced to government control and censorship of the press.
When the shoe was on the other foot in Richard Nixon’s day, The Post was hell bent for leather to publish leaked classified material. The 1971 Pentagon Papers Case, in which The Post was a party, involved classified information on United States involvement in Vietnam that was leaked to The New York Times. The government sought to enjoin The Times and The Post from publishing it, but the Supreme Court called that effort “prior restraint” and turned thumbs down.
“Prior restraint” is when the government tells you that you can’t publish information in your possession either through ordering you not to or insisting you must obtain government permission.
When someone is thrown in the clink for producing a video that angers Muslims, or when a U.S. attorney threatens to punish anyone who engages in anti-Muslim speech, should freedom of the press be any less destroyed than freedom of speech?”
What’s changed since the Pentagon Papers days isn’t governmental highhandedness and desire to subvert constitutional rights – that’s always happening, and that’s why we have the Bill of Rights. No less an authority than Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in the first place, agrees when he criticized President Obama’s efforts to control the press.
No, what’s changed is The Washington Post has gone from defending the Constitution and freedom of the press to defending governmental subversion of the Constitution and control over the press. And it did so voluntarily and in its own words.