This Week in Government Transparency

If you were an Obama voter in either 2008 or 2012, and you tell me that you expected this kind of story to be written, I will strongly suspect that you might–just might–be fibbing:

In unprecedented criticism of the White House, 38 journalism groups have assailed the president’s team for censoring media coverage, limiting access to top officials and overall “politically-driven suppression of the news.”

In a letter to President Obama, the 38, led by the Society of Professional Journalists, said efforts by government officials to stifle or block coverage has grown for years and reached a high-point under his administration despite Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to provide transparency.

Worse, they said: As access for reporters has been cut off, the administration has opened the door to lobbyists, special interests and “people with money.”

And as a result, they wrote, Obama only has himself to blame for the current cynicism of his administration. “You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in,” wrote David Cuillier, president of SPJ.

The administration has dismissed similar charges from other journalism groups, notably the White House Correspondents’ Association, but the new letter sent Tuesday provided several examples of censorship and efforts to block reporter access. Among them:

• Officials blocking reporters’ requests to talk to specific staff people.

• Excessive delays in answering interview requests that stretch past reporters’ deadlines.

• Officials conveying information “on background” — refusing to give reporters what should be public information unless they agree not to say who is speaking.

• Federal agencies blackballing reporters who write critically of them.

“In many cases, this is clearly being done to control what information journalists — and the audience they serve — have access to. A survey found 40 percent of public affairs officers admitted they blocked certain reporters because they did not like what they wrote,” added the letter.

Everyone sees now that “Hope and Change” was an empty promise in general, and that assurances that we would have “the most transparent administration ever” were a laugh and a half from beginning to end. Right?

Comments

Comments are closed.