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Bill Maher: Obama ‘perhaps the worst’ on press freedom

Bill Maher is throwing some shade on President Obama’s credentials as a supposed champion of freedom of the press.

The host of HBO’s “Real Time” sat down Friday to discuss media coverage of secret government work with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, one of the journalists centrally involved in bringing revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to light. 

“I don’t understand why he is perhaps the worst president we’ve had on clamping down on the press,” Maher said. 

“He’s used the Espionage Act more than any other president, right?” Maher added.

{mosads}Other members of the media have blasted the Obama administration’s treatment of journalists.

This week former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson told a Senate panel that Obama officials treat investigative journalists and their sources like “enemies of the state.”

“The job of getting at the truth has never been more difficult,” she said during the confirmation hearing for Loretta Lynch, the attorney general nominee. 

Under Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice secretly seized phone records from The Associated Press and also moved to prosecute a New York Times reporter, James Risen. A former Central Intelligence Agency officer was convicted of espionage this week for giving Risen sensitive data on a secret CIA program. 

Maher referenced a comment from 2013 when Obama said he would not describe Snowden as a “patriot.” 

“Then he [Obama] went on to say, hey, a lot of this stuff that he was talking about I was gonna do,” Maher said as members of the audience chuckled. 

“But it seems like it really wasn’t going to happen without” Snowden coming forward, Maher added.

Watch the HBO segment here.

This story was updated at 2:29 p.m.

Tags Bill Maher Edward Snowden Freedom of the press government surveillance Laura Poitras

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