War On The Press?

Slate’s editor at large, Jack Shafer, disputes the notion that the Bush administration is at war with the media. His support for that position is that the New York Times’ James Risen and Eric Lichtblau aren’t imprisoned at Gitmo. He further imagines that…

“A president intent on making war on the press would surely have carpet-bombed Dana Priest and the Washington Post for her secret prisons journalism. By now, Seymour M. Hersh of The New Yorker would have been executed on general principle.”

The entire thrust of his opinion rests on whether or not you take the word “war” literally. Since no one I can think of would ever do that in this context, it seems silly to base his whole argument on it. What kind of idiocy would it require to assert that a war on the press meant sending in the Marines? Shafer knows what war on the press means and he gives a pretty good description of it later in the article:

“…it’s true that the Bush administration hates the press and shouts it out frequently, that it tells lies, that it makes the lives of reporters as miserable as it can, that it plays propaganda games at every step, overclassifies, manufactures “phony news,” and intimidates the press…”

If that’s not a war on the press, I don’t know what is. Shafer ought to admit that the tactics he ascribes to the Bush administration constitute actual hostility to a free press and pose a clear and present danger to honest and independent journalism.