The Obama administration has won an award named after America's third president, Thomas Jefferson. That's the “good” news. The bad news? The award is the “Jefferson Muzzle,” which the administration won for spying on the news media and limiting journalists' access to Obama.
The “coveted” awards announced Wednesday by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression are presented to people and institutions that engage in the most egregious affronts to the First Amendment. (No word on whether Team Obama was a unanimous winner.)
As reported by AP, the awards are announced each year on or near the April 13 birthday of Jefferson, a free-speech advocate. Winners get a T-shirt with Jefferson's likeness and a black rectangle over his mouth.
Not only did Team Obama take home the Muzzle, it scored a trifecta:
- The White House collected a Muzzle for limiting photographers' access to Obama. The presidents of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and The Associated Press have urged their members to stop using White House handout photos and video, saying they amount to propaganda.
- The Justice Department was singled out for seizing telephone records of AP reporters and editors and for falsely labeling James Rosen of Fox News reporter a criminal co-conspirator in order to obtain a search warrant for his phone records and emails.
- The National Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security earned a Muzzle for going after a retail website that sold T-shirts and products poking fun at government, including one product that featured a variation on the NSA seal and the statement, “The NSA: The only part of government that actually listens.”
This post has been edited after publication.