So President Obama wants unfettered press freedom in the Middle East, even for those who disagree with him and/or the United States. From his speech today:
Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information. We will support open access to the Internet, and the right of journalists to be heard -– whether it's a big news organization or a lone blogger. In the 21st century, information is power, the truth cannot be hidden, and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.
Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our worldview. Let me be clear, America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them. And sometimes we profoundly disagree with them.
That's funny, Mr. President, because if you're so big on free speech in the Middle East, why don't you support it...in Boston?
More than two months after the Boston Herald devoted its front page to promoting an opinion piece by Republican Mitt Romney, the White House press office denied the Herald full access to President Obama’s activities in Boston on Wednesday, sparking an unusual release of email banter that illustrated the sometimes adversarial relationship between the White House and the media.
And some dude named Matt Lehrich ought to be fired:
According to the Herald, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich wrote in an email that, in determining which local reporters to include in the press pool, he considers “the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly...”
Citing the March 8 op-ed, which ran as President Obama was visiting the area, Lehrich said: “My point about the op-ed was not that you ran it but that it was the full front page, which excluded any coverage of the visit of a sitting U.S. President to Boston. I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the president’s visits.”
How hypocritical is it for the Obama administration to urge press freedom and criticism in the Middle East when a critical press is banned in Boston? About as hypocrtical as you can get. I'd be less disturbed if the Obama administration had a stellar record on issues related to freedom of the press, but it doesn't. Its record on Freedom of Information requests, for example, is no better than the Bush administration, which had set new lows for disclosure. Meanwhile, the citizens of the Middle East are pretty sharp -- why would they listen to a White House that does not practice what it preaches.