Liberal former ThinkProgress writer reveals ‘suffocating pressure,’ White House censorship

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The Obama administration has tried to censor what the liberal media publishes — and it’s often successful at keeping them in line, a former ThinkProgress blogger said this week.

Zaid Jilani, who wrote for Center for American Progress’ Think Progress, took to Tumblr to respond to on-air complaints voiced by two Russia Today America anchors: Abby Martin, who raised the ire of the usually supportive Russian government, and Liz Wahl, who resigned from Russia Today at the end of her broadcast Wednesday. The Tumblr post caught the attention of The Daily Caller.

In a post he called, “How Working in Washington Taught Me We’re All A Little Like RT America,” Jilani said he felt the White House’s heavy boot during his tenure at ThinkProgress.

In one instance he wrote an article critical of President Obama’s plans to withdraw from Afghanistan. Jilani used charts created from government figures to prove that more troops would be left in Afghanistan after the withdrawal than were there when Obama assumed office.

Man thinks he’s tougher than a bear, punches bear trap

The article earned praise from other media outlets and was even quoted by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Jilani wrote in his Tumblr post,:

But then phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy. Obama’s advisor Ben Rhodes — speaking of a staffer who follows policy set by others for his career path — even made a post on the White House blog more or less attacking my chart by fudging the numbers and including both the Iraq and Afghan troop levels in a single chart to make it seem as if the surge never happened (the marvels of things you can do in Excel!).

Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama. It confused me a lot because on the one hand, CAP was advertising to donors that it opposed the Afghan war — in our “Progressive Party,” the annual fundraising party we do with both Big Name Progressive Donors and corporate lobbyists (in the same room!) we even advertised that we wanted to end the war in Afghanistan.

And what about journalism — the process of uncovering the truth and reporting it to the public?

“What that meeting with CAP senior staff showed me was that they viewed being closer to Obama and aligning with his policy as more important than demonstrating progressive principle, if that meant breaking with Obama,” Jilani wrote. “Essentially, they were doing the same thing to us RT America is telling its American producers to do now — align with your boss, who is the president of the country.”

He began his piece by stating “we’re all a little bit like the good folks who work at RT America — struggling against editorial censors.” That’s generally true — an editor’s function is wholly different than that of a writer. A writer is focused on one particular truth; an editor has to keep an eye on the big picture, and sometimes those two worlds collide.

But when that censorship comes from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., that’s a whole different kettle of fish, one the First Amendment was designed to prohibit.

H/T The Daily Caller


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