Obama White House Is 'Most Secretive,' NYT Editor Says

The administration of President Barack Obama is the most secretive she has ever had to deal with, Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, complained in an interview with Al Jazeera.

The Obama White House, Abramson said, "is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering," noting that she has covered every White House since President Ronald Reagan.

"I dealt directly with the Bush White House," she added, "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."

When asked if she thinks the secrecy comes directly from Obama, Abramson answered, "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."

In talking about examples of leak investigations, Abramson mentioned the case of New York Times reporter James Risen.

The Justice Department under Obama has tried to force Risen to testify about one of his alleged sources, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is being tried for espionage. Risen may appeal his case to the Supreme Court.

Risen "has had this leak investigation hanging over his head for years now," Abramson complained.

The interview was not the first time Abramson complained about how the Obama White House deals with the press. In an interview about the Justice Department last June, she expressed concern that "the process of news gathering is being criminalized."

Abramson was also asked whether or not the NYT is a liberal newspaper. She answered that it is not liberal in a "doctrinaire" sense and it is not tied to the Democratic Party, but it does have a "cosmopolitan outlook to the world ... that may strike .... some readers as liberal ... ."

The full interview will air Sunday on Al Jazeera America.

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