New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson sat down with Al-Jazeera America earlier this week. In a wide ranging interview with John Seigenthaler, that touched on both the liberal slant of the paper’s editorial section and the future of the print edition, Abramson delivered a damning critique of an administration the President last year called "the most transparent in history":
Let me move on to another topic in the Obama administration. How would you grade this administration, compared to others, when it comes to its relationship with the media?
Well, I would slightly like to interpret the question as "How secretive is this White House?" which I think is the most important question. I would say it is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and that includes — I spent 22 years of my career in Washington and covered presidents from President Reagan on up through now, and I was Washington bureau chief of the Times during George W. Bush's first term.
I dealt directly with the Bush White House when they had concerns that stories we were about to run put the national security under threat. But, you know, they were not pursuing criminal leak investigations. The Obama administration has had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history. It's on a scale never seen before. This is the most secretive White House that, at least as a journalist, I have ever dealt with.
And do you think this comes directly from the president?
I would think that it would have to. I don't know that, but certainly enough attention has been focused on this issue that, if he departed from the policies of his government, I think we'd know that at this point.