Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson accused the Obama administration of stifling press freedom by systematically cracking down on reporters—even treating them like enemies.
“The job of getting at the truth has never been more difficult,” says @SharylAttkisson
“If you cross this administration with perfectly accurate reporting they don’t like, you will be attacked and punished,” Attkisson said. “You and your sources may be subjected to the kind of surveillance devised for enemies of the state.”
Attkisson, a senior independent contributor to The Daily Signal, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday about the Department of Justice’s treatment of journalists under outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder.
Loretta Lynch’s nomination to replace Holder is awaiting Senate confirmation, prompting Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to call on Attkisson to give her own personal account of troubles with the Justice Department.
“The job of getting at the truth has never been more difficult,” Attkisson said at the hearing. “Facets of the federal government have isolated themselves from the public they serve. They covet and withhold public information that we as citizens own.”
Attkisson highlighted the “bullying” tactics that she claims the government, and specifically the Justice Department, have used against journalists.
Government officials called and threatened her superiors when she was at CBS News, launched a “frenzied campaign” against her with surrogate bloggers, and even denied her and other journalists access to federal buildings.
“Let me emphasize that my reporting was factual,” Attkisson said in reference to her work on the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal. “It was not because my reporting was poor.”
Attkisson also reiterated her own problems with alleged government snooping, which included “keystroke monitoring, password capture, use of Skype to listen into audio.”
The Justice Department sought to push back on some of Attkisson’s claims yesterday with the release of an inspector general report.
Attkisson concluded that freedom of the press is “under assault due to government policies of secrecy, leak prevention, and officials’ contact with the media, combined with large-scale surveillance programs.”
She urged Lynch, if confirmed, to “chart a new path” as attorney general.
“If we aren’t brave enough to confront these concerns,” Attkisson said, “it could do serious, long-term damage to a supposedly free press.”