Odd that the president never once mentions the importance of DOJ investigations of reporters in any of his WHCD speeches. But he does have a lot of praise for the press and the job they do. . .
I just — I want to end by saying a few words about the men and women in this room whose job it is to inform the public and pursue the truth. You know, we meet tonight at a moment of extraordinary challenge for this nation and for the world, but it’s also a time of real hardship for the field of journalism. And like so many other businesses in this global age, you’ve seen sweeping changes and technology and communications that lead to a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about what the future will hold.
Across the country, there are extraordinary, hardworking journalists who have lost their jobs in recent days, recent weeks, recent months. And I know that each newspaper and media outlet is wrestling with how to respond to these changes, and some are struggling simply to stay open. And it won’t be easy. Not every ending will be a happy one.
But it’s also true that your ultimate success as an industry is essential to the success of our democracy. It’s what makes this thing work. You know, Thomas Jefferson once said that if he had the choice between a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, he would not hesitate to choose the latter.
Clearly, Thomas Jefferson never had cable news to contend with — (laughter) — but his central point remains: A government without newspapers, a government without a tough and vibrant media of all sorts, is not an option for the United States of America. (Applause.)
Earlier today I gave the commencement address at Michigan, where I spoke to the graduates about what is required to keep out democracy thriving in the 21st century. And one of the points I made is that for all the changes and challenges facing your industry, this country absolutely needs a healthy, vibrant media. ‘Probably needs it more than ever now.’
You know, in the last months, we’ve seen journalists threatened, arrested, beaten, attacked, and in some cases even killed simply for doing their best to bring us the story, to give people a voice, and to hold leaders accountable. And through it all, we’ve seen daring men and women risk their lives for the simple idea that no one should be silenced, and everyone deserves to know the truth.
I do want to end tonight on a slightly more serious note — whoever takes the oath of office next January will face some great challenges, but he will also inherit traditions that make us greater than the challenges we face. And one of those traditions is represented here tonight: a free press that isn’t afraid to ask questions, to examine and to criticize. And in service of that mission, all of you make sacrifices.
And finally, from 2013:
But even when the days seemed darkest, we have seen humanity shine at its brightest. We’ve seen first responders and National Guardsmen who have dashed into danger, law enforcement officers who lived their oath to serve and to protect, and everyday Americans who are opening their homes and their hearts to perfect strangers.
And we also saw journalists at their best — especially those who took the time to wade upstream through the torrent of digital rumors to chase down leads and verify facts and painstakingly put the pieces together to inform, and to educate, and to tell stories that demanded to be told.
Here’s an idea: If The White House Correspondents’ Association is really concerned with press freedoms, they shouldn’t invite the president to the 2014 dinner.