August 18, 2014 Last Updated 7:33 am

NYT reporter James Risen calls the President ‘greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation’

Morning Brief: The NYT, usually cautious, allows comments on Michael Brown autopsy story; Iraqi and Kurdish forces said to retake Mosul Dam

The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd did not need to look very far to find an interview subject for her Sunday Review feature, interviewing Times reporter James Risen. Calling her colleague Jim, Dowd buried the lead (or lede if you prefer) at the bottom of her story when Risen said that the Obama administration was the greatest threat to press freedom in a generation. Oh well, it was a feature story, and from Dowd, no less.

“A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin,” Risen said. “They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

Risen is being pursued by the Obama Justice Department for repotting that first appeared in his book State of War. Risen faces jail time if he does not divulge his sources as the administration goes after the Times reporter using the Espionage Act, a piece of legislation drawn up in 1917 at the start of U.S. participation in World War I.

Dowd, ever the columnist, ended her feature with “Risen may be trapped in Ibsen, but Obama is channeling Orwell.” Dowd needs an editor.

NYT-autopsy-lgThe NYT is usually reluctant to allow for reader comments on controversial news stories, but opened up its story on the autopsy of Michael Brown to reader comments. Brown was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri a week ago, leading to protests and looting in the predominately African-American community.

The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, said that he would deploy the Missouri National Guard in an effort to keep the peace in the suburb of St. Louis.

The NYT, which heavily moderates its reader comments, often does not allow for comments on news stories, avoiding both trolls, and uneducated comments on stories that are still developing. But the paper opened up the autopsy story to comments leading, inevitably, to divisive comments.

The autopsy, conducted at the request of the family of Michael Brown, showed that the 18-year-old was shot six times, twice in the head, and that all the wounds were front facing.

Violence in Iraq continues as Iraqi and Kurdish troops reportedly won back possession of Mosul Dam from Islamic State (IS) fighters. The U.S. has been providing airstrikes in support of the effort.

Observers feared that IS control of the dam, situated on the Tigris River, would give the Islamic State vital control of water supplies, and that destruction of the dam might caused countless deaths.

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