BY TIM ABRAM
The last few weeks for the Obama administration have been scandal laden to say the least. The Department of Justice, led byAttorney General Eric Holder, is currently investigating itself per request of President Barack Obama to determine why exactly phone records and emails of Fox News and Associated Press reporters were subpoenaed. Fox News reported supposedly classified information about our dealings with North Korea, while the AP reported information about a foiled airline bombing threat. The constitutionality of these actions has been severely question — rightfully so, in my opinion.
One purpose of investigative journalism is to serve as a “watchdog” for American citizens. Investigative journalism also aids in keeping our government and its leaders accountable for their actions. This form of journalism brings a sense of transparency between the powers that be and the people. By requesting the phone logs and emails of these reporters, the Justice Department seemingly encroached on freedoms that many of us hold dearly: the freedom of speech and press.
However, I do believe we have to take a step back from this incident and consider all of the variables that may have gone into the request for the subpoena. Was the information incredibly sensitive and the Justice Department felt as though it was in the best interest of the American people for them to remain in the dark on the issues? Or is this an attempt to cover up some malign activities of the American government?
Obviously, we have very limited knowledge of the motive behind the subpoena, so in my opinion any judgement we make on the morality of the subpoena would be a hasty one. However, I do believe the gripes that reporters have with the Justice Department are legitimate and should be addressed quickly.
In addition to the subpoenaed phone logs and emails, the Obama administration is currently dealing with a scandal involving the IRS. A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found that “44% of registered voters say the IRS probe of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status is the most important (of the three controversies).” Although the president was not directly involved in the scandal, well, as far as we know, he is certainly taking the bulk of the blame. I will be interested in seeing how the president will recover from what has been a tumultuous few weeks. Oh, I forgot to mention that President Obama is juggling all three of these controversies while developments about the Benghazi terrorist attacks continually emerge. President Obama is being attack from all fronts, often having to take ultimate responsibility for the mishaps of others.
While I was in DC last year I visited the National Museum of American History. One of the exhibits described the American presidency as a “glorious burden.” Well, President Obama certainly feels the burden part of the glory now.
Tim Abram is a public policy major from Horn Lake. Follow him on Twitter @Tim_Abram.