CNN's Jake Tapper took aim at President Obama's policies towards the media on Thursday.
Obama addressed the scandal surrounding the Justice Department's secret probe into the Associated Press during his press conference with the prime minister of Turkey. Journalists and press watchdogs have been outraged by both the breadth and the covert nature of the probe. The Justice Department has justified the investigation as part of its crackdown on national security leaks that wind up in the media.
Obama said he respected the role of a free press and voiced support for a new media shield bill, but added that he made "no apologies" for going after leaks:
"When we express concerns about leaks at a time when I have 60,000 troops in Afghanistan and intelligence officers around the world who are in risky situations in outposts that are sometimes as dangerous as the outpost in Benghazi, part of my job is protecting what they do, while still accommodating for the need for the public to be informed."
Speaking just after the press conference wrapped up, Tapper said this was not a worthy response.
"That's what every president says. Every president, whether it's Nixon with the Pentagon Papers or George W. Bush with the NSA wiretapping story, every president exerts, 'I'm doing this to keep you safe.' A lot of people in the public, they say that's enough, and they believe it, but the truth of the matter is that it's not enough of an answer in and of itself. That's why there is Congressional oversight of the executive branch. It's not enough just to say we're doing it to keep you safe, because the moment the American people cede that territory, then presidents can do whatever they want."
When Wolf Blitzer noted that Attorney General Eric Holder had said that the leak that the AP reported was a very dangerous one, Tapper interrupted, saying, "That's what they always say." He then added, "This administration has used the Espionage Act more times to go after whistleblowers ... more than every other administration combined. So this is a very aggressive administration when it comes to squashing freedom of the press."
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