So much for the most transparent administration in history. According to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), 38 journalist and open government groups called on President Obama to “stop practices in federal agencies that prevent important information from getting to the public.”
The Obama Administration has expanded its war on whistlerblowers into thwarting basic journalism by prohibiting more federal employees from speaking to the press and monitoring interviews that do occur. The extremely tight rules are reportedly disrupting the flow of information to the public – threatening to prevent the public from being able to make informed decisions.
According to David Cuillier, president of the SPJ, “The practices have become more and more pervasive throughout America, preventing information from getting to the public in an accurate and timely matter. The president pledged to be the most transparent in history. He can start by ending these practices now.”
The practices SPJ notes are:
• 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.
Whether the plea from journalists and transparency advocates changes anything is hard to say, but at least the mythology of President Obama’s historic transparency is becoming harder to sustain. Though Obama and company can keep telling everyone they are transparent, the facts tell a different story.