Transparency, White House-style

posted at 2:41 pm on March 20, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama first campaigned for his job, he promised “the most transparent administration ever” if elected. In fairness, Obama’s not the first presidential candidate who made that kind of promise, and the need for candidates to keep making it demonstrates the success Americans have had in electing someone who actually intends to deliver on that pledge. On the other hand, this White House seems to be more comically inept at even delivering a pretense of transparency — from the malevolent effort to rewrite FOIA rules to exclude themselves to the amusing irony of insisting on accepting a transparency award outside of the presence of the media.

Dylan Byers’ latest example leans much closer to the latter end of that spectrum.  The First Lady has gone on a vacation to China, an important trading partner and emerging competitor at the least in the Pacific Rim, a trip that should have some public interest. After all, this isn’t just another trip to Hawaii or other domestic destinations, nor to a stable ally of the US like Spain. However, the White House has barred reporters from traveling with the taxpayer-funded vacation, and Byers wanted to get at least an explanation of why. Instead, he entered a catch-22 zone:

Shortly after noon on Wednesday, I reached out to the First Lady’s office to inquire about the decision. A spokesperson for the First Lady responded to my inquiry but declared the response “off the record,” meaning I wasn’t allowed to use the information therein. When I told the spokesperson that I needed a response I could use, the spokesperson replied with another off-the-record statement regarding the First Lady’s trip.

The spokesperson then wrote, “If you need something attributable, you can take this on background from a White House official…”

The statement that followed did not address my original inquiry. Instead, it offered a formulaic explanation about “the power and importance of education” and “reaching people,” followed by an explanation that the First Lady would participate in open press events and take questions online and in forums.

By now it was 5 p.m. ET, nearly five hours after my initial inquiry. When I told the spokesperson that I did not see why the quote needed to be anonymous and attributed to “a White House official,” the spokesperson said if I needed something on the record I could refer to the First Lady’s travel guidance and a transcript of a press call regarding the trip. These documents did not contain an answer to my question regarding why no reporters would be traveling with the First Lady.

In the end, Byers not only didn’t get an explanation, he didn’t even get a name to put on the record for an anodyne quote about the trip. There may well be a good explanation for making a taxpayer-funded vacation halfway around the world a media-free effort, but a transparent administration would at least make a public case for it. This looks more like a White House under siege — or perhaps an administration whose instincts are to stonewall first and entertain questions later as they see fit.

In another example that skews to the petty side, a local CBS affiliate reporter, Catherine Anaya, explained how their interview with Barack Obama had to be conducted standing up, with a countdown clock behind the President constantly reminding the reporter of her time limit:

“We immediately launched into our interview because there was a person standing behind him actually counting down to the four minutes. And by the time he answered my last question, I realized that we had already gone over the four minutes, so that’s why I took an opportunity to sort of ask a lighter question afterward because I figured at that point, you know, why not? I have nothing to lose,” said the local reporter.

“But what was interesting–a side note–is the reason why we’re standing, I was told by one of his staffers, is because he likes to get comfortable when he’s sitting and he tends to get very chatty. And so this was another way to keep him–and us–at the four minutes that they were suggesting that we not go over.”

Said the local anchor, “Yeah, and it sounds like the pressure is on when some guy is standing behind him with a countdown clock. That’s a little ridiculous.”

It’s not unusual at all for aides to remind journalists of time limitations during interviews. I will occasionally get frantic e-mails during TEMS appearances that I’ve run over the agreed-upon time limit, which I try very hard to honor, because those time limits help these newsmakers stay on schedule for other interviews like mine. The part about conducting the interview standing up sounds to me like a pretty good strategy in dealing with a subject who tends to filibuster, as we know Obama does in press conferences. However, holding a clock and ostentatiously counting down the seconds during the interview is “a little ridiculous,” as the local anchor says.

Anaya also claimed that the White House press office told her that reporters submit questions in advance for these interviews, something the White House and other correspondents hotly denied, Eric Wemple reported:

Such a practice, of course, would suggest collusion between the White House and the people it covers. It would also allow the White House to prepare for tough questions and provide even-more-canned responses to the questions asked.

Media critics were quick to jump on the claim as proof of such collusion.

Jake Tapper offered this powerful rebuttal:

Er … yeah, good point. ABC’s Jonathan Karl thinks this was a misunderstanding or misspeak on Anaya’s part:

That’s probably the case, although I’ve never interviewed the President. When I do get interviews, most (but not all) will have staffers ask what topics I want to cover, sometimes more specifically than others. Only once in more than 10 years did I get a question list, which prompted me to decline the interview (and don’t ask who it was, because I honestly can’t remember — happened several year ago, and it wasn’t anyone of consequence).

Finally, in order to be fair, we have to note that transparency in the media isn’t always attractive, either. CNN has transparently sensationalized its Flight 370 coverage, which Nate Beeler skewers today:

beeler-370

We’ve tried to keep up with events on Flight 370 without engaging in over-speculation, usually with one omnibus post each day to cover new developments. Even that can be too much if there aren’t any new developments at all, although this story has moved a fair amount each day. Here’s a pro-tip: When you start exploring the possibilities that a black hole has sucked an airplane into the Twilight Zone, it’s past time to move to a new topic.

Be sure to check out Nate’s blog for more of his excellent work.


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O-paque.

Flange on March 20, 2014 at 2:43 PM

NEW!!!!!

WHITE HOUSE PRESS REPORTS!!!!!

Now complete with knee pads!

Oil Can on March 20, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Final warning – last line is best.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM

“Transparency” “Hope” “Change”. Why did anyone vote for this guy??

kcewa on March 20, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Final warning – last line is best.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Too late?

kcewa on March 20, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972) was an American community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing. He is often noted for his book Rules for Radicals.

How To Create a Social State

by Saul Alinsky

There are 8 levels of control that must be obtained before you are able to create a
social state. The first is the most important.

1) Healthcare – Control healthcare and you control the people

2) Poverty – Increase the Poverty level as high as possible, poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.

3) Debt – Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.

4) Gun Control – Remove the ability to defend themselves from the Government. That way you are able to create a police state.

5) Welfare – Take control of every aspect of their lives (Food, Housing, and Income)

6) Education – Take control of what people read and listen to – take control of what children learn in school.

7) Religion – Remove the belief in the God from the Government and schools

8) Class Warfare – Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. This will cause
more discontent and it will be easier to take (Tax) the wealthy with the support of the poor.

0) Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda – feed reporters socialist sh*t and they’ll convince themselves and the sheeple that it’s Beluga caviar.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Michelle told Barack that she was going out for some Chinese

J_Crater on March 20, 2014 at 2:52 PM

My problem isn’t with the questions that the media asks the White House.

It’s the questions they DON’T ask that bother me.

myiq2xu on March 20, 2014 at 2:52 PM

There may well be a good explanation for making a taxpayer-funded vacation halfway around the world a media-free effort, but a transparent administration would at least make a public case for it. This looks more like a White House under siege — or perhaps an administration whose instincts are to stonewall first and entertain questions later as they see fit.

Looks like a White House? This looks more like the Palace at Versailles, where a corrupt, naive, and incompetent royal family arrogantly believes that they are above accountability and above the law…that they are entitled to act as they do, comfortable in the knowledge that they are at the top of the privileged class.

This might look like a vacation, but I suspect that there’s more afoot…

Athos on March 20, 2014 at 2:52 PM

“the power and importance of education” and “reaching people,”

How do you reach people about the power and importance of education without the media?

This is a private vacation trip and should be paid for by the Obamas themselves.

rbj on March 20, 2014 at 2:53 PM

kcewa, perhaps. Here’s a good example:

The Mooch’s, her mother and the brats’ vacation to China is being called a “Cultural Exchange”, instead of a vacation; that way the peons pay for every damn penny of the entire thing, and the Punk won’t be asked to pay back a thing.

Media eating obama-chit.

Sheelpledom out shopping, on your dole. Work harder.

———-
Love your comments.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Michelle told Barack that she was going out for some Chinese

J_Crater on March 20, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Her gay cook resigned. She’s searching for another. Oprah and her ‘friend’ and Valerie Jarrett and Michelette need to be fed.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Change we can believe in.

Yeah right!

D-fusit on March 20, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Odumbo was elected on fraud, ruled on fraud, and was re-elected on fraud. He is a Fraud!

rjoco1 on March 20, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Excuse me…I have to go to the bathroom and create an Obama doll…be right back…

PatriotRider on March 20, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Transparency, White House-style

Depravity, McCain-style.

McCain Storms Out of Meeting With Syrian Christians; Fellow GOP Senator Apologises For Insane McVain’s [latest] Temper Tantrum

Hell-bent on arming opposition forces in Syria—despite strong evidence that they’re run by Islamic terrorists—John McCain displayed behavior unbecoming ]even] a United States Senator during a recent meeting with Syrian Christian leaders touring Capitol Hill.

Senator McCain, an Arizona Republican, evidently doesn’t want to hear negative stories about the rebels [Christian butchering monsters that Walid Shoebat talked about to Mark Levin] he’s working to arm. So he stormed out of a closed-door meeting with the Syrian clergy officials last week.
.
McCain marched into the committee room yelling, according to a high-level source that attended the meeting, and quickly stormed out. “He was incredibly rude,” the source told Judicial Watch “because he didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.” Following the shameful tantrum McCain reentered the room and sat briefly but refused to make eye contact with the participants, instead ignoring them by looking down at what appeared to be random papers [where some thought he was muttering, "Who took my strawberries!].
.
The outburst was so embarrassing that Senator Graham, also an advocate of U.S. military intervention in Syria, apologized for McCain’s disturbing outburst. “Graham actually apologized to the group for McCain’s behavior,” according to the source, who sat through the entire meeting. “It was truly unbelievable [even for McCain].”

If the Senate does not at the very least censure this morally depraved bastardo McCain, with a requirement that he undergo psychiatric treatment, including extensive electrical shock treatment, and expel him if he refuses to get it, they will have forever utterly disgraced themselves. Have they no standards at all? My God, have they no shame?

VorDaj on March 20, 2014 at 3:03 PM

VorDaj on March 20, 2014 at 3:03 PM

America can’t be relieved of that reprobate quickly enough.

Murphy9 on March 20, 2014 at 3:05 PM

O/T
Fred Phelps bought the farm.

bazil9 on March 20, 2014 at 3:07 PM

O/T
Fred Phelps bought the farm.

bazil9 on March 20, 2014 at 3:07 PM

bazil9: True Dats:0
====================

https://twitter.com/AP

The Associated Press ‏@AP 2h

MORE: Phelps founded Westboro Baptist Church, though most members are part of his extended family: http://apne.ws/1kMehKl
Expand

The Associated Press ‏@AP 3h

BREAKING: Fred Phelps Sr., founder of Kansas church known for anti-gay protests at funerals, has died.
Expand

canopfor on March 20, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Get with it, Ed.

Opacity is the new transparency.

Stonewalling is patriotic.

Mendacity is de rigueur.

novaculus on March 20, 2014 at 3:13 PM

“We Are Five Days Away From Fundamentally Transforming The
Marxist Socialist Media in America”!!

–Hopey/Changey

Er wait,..wrong speechy!
(snark)

canopfor on March 20, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Michelle told Barack that she was going out for some Chinese

J_Crater on March 20, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Her gay cook resigned. She’s searching for another. Oprah and her ‘friend’ and Valerie Jarrett and Michelette need to be fed.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:57 PM

I expect a separate plane to Red China will be needed just for lobshter and butter and Wagyu steaks.

slickwillie2001 on March 20, 2014 at 3:15 PM

The Mooch’s, her mother and the brats’ vacation to China is being called a “Cultural Exchange”, instead of a vacation; that way the peons pay for every damn penny of the entire thing, and the Punk won’t be asked to pay back a thing.
Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Yep. How’s this for transparency?

CBS News reports that White House officials refuse to say how much the China trip costs. Her heavily criticized 2010 visit to Spain cost taxpayers nearly $470,000.

Earlier today it emerged that Michelle Obama will not take questions from reporters or give interviews during her tour of China, and members of the press corps who usually follows the first family everywhere can’t travel with her entourage.
And although she will make a few speeches with reporters in the room, the picture is largely one of an expensive, taxpayer-funded tourism exercise for Mrs. Obama, her two daughters, and her mother – not the official trip the White House has projected.
White House press officials haven’t comment on the record about whether a reported ban on question-and-answer interviews applies equally to American journalists and international reporters.
Limited information made available to MailOnline suggests that only two out of 22 scheduled events on the trip will afford journalists a chance to do any significant reporting.
The White House also indicated that the two events during the trip that are completely open to journalists will not see the first lady be interviewed or take questions, and they are marked ‘space limited’ on her itinerary.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2584980/US-lady-avoid-politics-Beijing-visit.html#ixzz2wX2E4I92
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

kcewa on March 20, 2014 at 3:16 PM

MeanWhile,…Hopey Yaps it up in Orlando(War on Woman Economics):

President Obama’s economic proposals 2014
15m
Live video: President Obama speaks at Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., on economic opportunities for women – @NBCNews
read more on nbcnews.com
===========================

2014 NCAA basketball tournament
2m
President Obama on March Madness: ‘You can only pick 1 winning team – I have 63 colleges mad at me’ – @BarackObama
see original on twitter.com
=============================

President Obama’s economic proposals 2014
4m
President Obama at Florida event: ‘We’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just for a few’ – @BarackObama

canopfor on March 20, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Transparency:

1m
US fines Texas chemical plant controlled by Koch Industries for emissions violations; more than $44 million in upgrades required – @WSJ
read more on online.wsj.com

Murphy9 on March 20, 2014 at 3:19 PM

America can’t be relieved of that reprobate quickly enough.

Murphy9 on March 20, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Unfortunately, Siberia is no longer an option, since he’s on Putin’s retaliatory prankster sanction list.

dentarthurdent on March 20, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Yeah, I’m sorry – if her kids and mother are going along, this isn’t a trip that should be paid for by taxpayers – this is yet another ridiculous f*cking vacation.

Midas on March 20, 2014 at 3:30 PM

This entire presidency is a scripted dog-and-pony show, featuring Obama’s strutting pretense at understanding much of anything about the issues at hand.

petefrt on March 20, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Transparency:

1m
US fines Texas chemical plant controlled by Koch Industries for emissions violations; more than $44 million in upgrades required – @WSJ
read more on online.wsj.com

Murphy9 on March 20, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Could’ve been borrowed from the pages of ‘Atlas Shrugged’.

Midas on March 20, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Moochelle lost her Chinese checkers set and has to go back for a replacement. Actually, she just lost her marbles and her resultant depressed state can only be relieved by a night with Charlie Chan…

vnvet on March 20, 2014 at 3:31 PM

kcewa on March 20, 2014 at 3:16 PM

God, she’s fugly.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 3:32 PM

further solidifying my feeling no flotus should have any travel budget, official duties, staff, whatever.
if the flotus wants it put her on the ticket as VP.
been saying this since I could first vote and for whatever reason it always bugs people, maybe now it won’t so much.

dmacleo on March 20, 2014 at 3:32 PM

0) Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda – feed reporters socialist sh*t and they’ll convince themselves and the sheeple that it’s Beluga caviar.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:51 PM

This list should be publicized everywhere all the time.

crankyoldlady on March 20, 2014 at 3:36 PM

God, she’s fugly.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Coach Robinson. Brother and sister look like twins?

kcewa on March 20, 2014 at 3:36 PM

If the media did their job and asked tough questions these criminals would soon be on a plane to a friendly country. If they don’t start doing so they will soon start being arrested for it when they actually do. Perhaps that’s why they don’t. They’re afraid.

crankyoldlady on March 20, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Shame this isn’t an obamaphone thread so some of our (D)s could post on it.

rogerb on March 20, 2014 at 3:51 PM

From kcewa’s first link.

“I think this is a very good opportunity to improve the China-U.S. relations, as the first lady can represent the soft side of diplomacy,” said Wang Dong, a political scientist at Peking University’s School of International Studies.

Both are American euphemisms for pen*s.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Both are American euphemisms for pen*s.
Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 3:55 PM

And it is the American Taxpayers that get it in the rear, without benefit of an “Excuse me”, much less dinner and foreplay.

LegendHasIt on March 20, 2014 at 4:03 PM

How about some fiscal transparency from the Obama Administration?

It’s not likely to be forthcoming…but from Zero Hedge, the Obama Administration lied about the FY2013 deficit….

In the Land of the Free, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released its 2013 Financial Report of the United States government.

This is the government’s best attempt at an honest accounting of its books. And even though they use a different accounting system that gives them special advantages, the picture is still remarkably bleak.

We all know that the US government has racked up a substantial debt; as of this morning, total outstanding public debt is $17,546,814,482,078.90. ($17.5 trillion)

Despite the Obama administration touting a budget deficit of “only” $680 billion in 2013, the GAO’s more accurate accounting shows a total government cost of $3.8 trillion on total revenue of $2.8 trillion.

In other words– the administration wasn’t exactly honest with the American people– the deficit was more like $1 trillion, not $680 billion. But it gets worse.

The GAO added up ALL the US government’s assets in 2013. Aircraft carriers. The highway system. Land. Cash and financial assets. The total is $2.97 trillion.

The liabilities, on the other hand, total $19.88 trillion. This includes the official public debt, plus all sorts of IOUs and loan guarantees.

This means the net EQUITY of the US government is minus $16.9 trillion.

Moreover, the US government’s cash position is a mere $206 billion… roughly 1.1% of its public debt. This isn’t enough to cover net interest payments for the next year.

There’s the truth and then there is the information from the Obama Administration….the most open and transparent Administration ever.

Athos on March 20, 2014 at 4:04 PM

0) Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda – feed reporters socialist sh*t and they’ll convince themselves and the sheeple that it’s Beluga caviar.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 2:51 PM

This list should be publicized everywhere all the time.

crankyoldlady on March 20, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Yes, I too am interested in that list.

I was so interested I went in search of a good source or original link. What I found was less than sensational.

Lolo on March 20, 2014 at 5:01 PM

These worthless pieces of crap have already spent more time on vacation than every other President since Kennedy COMBINED. Not to mention the all-time record on rounds of golf and $1 million+ tabs for White House parties.

They are cashing in now. Our fellow “citizens” were stupid enough to elect them twice.

Again, it demonstrates the utter folly of our 25 year effort to make registering and voting effortless, so even the disaffected and disinterested can be badgered into voting.

We need MORE restrictions on the franchise, not less. You should be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of our system of government, the Constitution, and who your Senators and Representative are before being privilege to vote in federal elections. As evidence, I offer Barack Hussein Obama.

Adjoran on March 20, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Bams and his admin have softened the target (the U.S.) for 5 years. Michelle is going to China to discuss where China (who has first dibs) will want the dividing line to separate their half of the United States from Russia’s half. Okay, farfetched thought…then again, considering how everything else has defied logic, common sense, and our laws….hmmm.

31giddyup on March 20, 2014 at 5:44 PM

BIG LIE:

“President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history…”

TRUTH:

President Obama has made his administration the most SECRETIVE and ███████████ in history.

ITguy on March 20, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Lolo, surely you are smart enough to translate this into today’s US reality.

But, never forget this, because it’s the cause of all evil in the USA today:

Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda – feed reporters socialist sh*t and they’ll convince themselves and the sheeple that it’s Beluga caviar.

No source…because I said it. I own it, and will say it a million times. It is true.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 6:57 PM