MEDIA

Obama's Very Ironic Tribute To Press Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20:  U.S. President Barack Obama greets Ben Bradlee, former Executive Editor of the Washington Post
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: U.S. President Barack Obama greets Ben Bradlee, former Executive Editor of the Washington Post, before awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room at the White House on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

When President Obama presented legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee with the Medal of Freedom on Wednesday, it was impossible not to detect a certain irony in the air.

Obama lavishly praised Bradlee for unleashing "a new era of investigative journalism, holding America's leaders accountable and reminding us that our freedom as a nation rests on our freedom of the press."

Stirring words, to be sure, but especially interesting to hear from someone whose administration's attitude towards the press has been frequently compared to Richard Nixon's.

Bradlee's protege and successor, Leonard Downie, Jr., would probably have something to say about Obama's comments. After all, it was Downie who recently published a report on the Obama administration in which he wrote that the White House's pursuit of journalists was without precedent.

Downie is not alone in this kind of talk. AP CEO Gary Pruitt said in October that the Justice Department's surveillance of the wire service, along with its hyper-aggressive prosecution of a host of other leak cases, "could not have been more tailor-made to comfort authoritarian regimes who want to suppress the news media."

Press freedom groups have similarly condemned the DOJ's actions.

So, when Obama paid tribute to the glories of an investigative press, it was a bit difficult to know just which press he was referring to.

Some on Twitter sensed the cognitive dissonance: