President Obama took criticism for not attending the huge parade in France after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but he is no fool and realized he could not go. How could President Obama attend a rally for "freedom of the press" in light of his record of attempting to stifle the idea of a "free press" during his term?
Exhibit one would be the 7 year crusade to get James Risen of the New York Times in a court room. Mr. Risen published a "secret" that the Obama administration did not like, and they have harassed and chased him ever since, in an effort to get him to divulge his source for his leak. They knew all along who it was, they just wanted Risen to finger the leaker, so he too could be prosecuted. The James Risen chase is still on. This was just one of many attempts by the administration and the US government to intimidate the press. This administration wants a complicit press; they do not want a real "Free Press", but want a machine to parrot their official line with no questions asked. Very sadly, most journalists and outlets have succumbed and surrendered their role as the "Fifth Estate". Mr. Obama was fully aware that if he attended and went arm and arm in a parade with enemies of the free press such as Bibi Netanyahu, the representative from the US backed dictatorship in Yemen, and our good friend Saudi Arabia, whose extremely conservative, fanatical, right wing government just sentenced a man to 1000 lashes for having a liberal blog, he would have looked absolutely foolish.
This administration has gone after more whistle-blowers than any president in history, and not only has he gone after such people, he has used the "ultimate" weapon in his pursuit of those who dare speak out. His weapon of choice is the rarely used Espionage Act, a draconian piece of legislation never intended to silence whistle blowers, journalists, or citizens.
The US government has an atrocious record of attacking journalists, which might just be unrivaled in the world. Who else has bombed the Al Jazeera headquarters building? Who else has bombed a hotel that journalists were using as a base from which to report the news of the Iraq war? This administration has tapped the phones of some of the largest news media outlets in the country in an effort to intimidate.
The ultimate example of the war on transparency can be seen by the Obama's attempt to ensnare Edward Snowden. They were so intent on catching him and bringing him home for prosecution, they illegally hijacked a plane carrying the leader of another country because they suspected it might be carrying Snowden. They completely ignored and violated international law in an attempt to imprison a whistleblower and crush free speech. Snowden is now in exile for the rest of his life, because the US government would love to get him and punish him as a chilling example for those who see wrong and think about exposing that wrong to the American people. Not one single thing Snowden released jeopardized National Security, but that, folks, is irrelevant. He divulged constant lies by the government and things the public had a right to know that proved very embarrassing for politicians. So much for a "free press".
Another such person is Private Bradley Manning, who saw mass murder by his government on a video. He went to his superiors but was told to just keep quiet. The Private had a conscience however, and he found it impossible to cover up mass murder, and he leaked his information to expose it. He is now serving a 35 year prison sentence for his efforts. Obama in a parade advocating free press; hardly!
Obama is many things but he is not stupid, and he knew full well that he would be subjected to world ridicule had he walked down the street in a parade for "Freedom of Speech". He is a vicious attacker of free speech and transparency in government. Better to stay at home and pretend you made a mistake by not going, than to be the ridiculed for hypocrisy in a Charlie Hebdo cartoon. Better representatives for a "free speech" parade would have been James Risen, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden.