WASHINGTON: The White House has defended press freedom under the current administration, saying US President Barack Obama believes press freedom is critically important to the success of the country.
Over the last couple of years, the US has taken some very important steps to try to make sure Obama administration was striking the right balance between law enforcement's need to protect national security and to respect the freedom of the press, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
Obama believes press freedom is 'critically' important to the success of the country, Earnest said.
"So the Attorney General (Eric Holder) has made clear that he doesn't believe that journalists should be prosecuted or put in jail just because they're doing their job," he said.
Earnest was responding to a question on remarks made by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who had said that the Obama administration is the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation, and that he plans to spend the rest of his life fighting to undo the damage to press freedom done by resident Barack Obama and Eric Holder.
"The Attorney General has convened meetings with well-known and influential journalists from across the country to discuss some of these issues about striking that appropriate balance," Earnest said.
The feedback that he has gotten out of those meetings has been very positive; that even the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press said the Justice Department had turned a corner. And the Washington Post Editorial Board said that there has been a welcome evolution by Attorney General Eric Holder on these issues, he argued.
"So this is certainly the kind of work that the administration believes is important.
It's also the kind of work that's always ongoing; that as we consider striking a balance between two important competing - in some cases, competing priorities, that we're always going to have to evaluate what steps are being taken to strike the right balance. And we certainly are pleased with the kind of progress that we've made, Earnest added.