That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it — or at least Josh Earnest is. CNN interviewed the new White House press secretary yesterday and challenged him over a written complaint from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Poynter Institute. The two organizations accused the Obama administration of conducting “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies,” and demanded more transparency across a wide expanse of the federal government. Earnest dismissed this as pro forma for political-beat journalists:
How does Earnest defend the administration? He brags about the White House visitor logs being released to the Internet on a quarterly basis, and the inclusion of the press on private fundraisers. The latter, though, usually consists of locking reporters up in a bedroom during the entire event and force-feeding them anodyne copy. Similar treatment was given the pool reporter who accompanied Barack Obama on a golf trip in May, only he didn’t get a cushy bedroom — he got stuck in a maintenance shed, and never once laid eyes on Obama.
Small wonder that journalists aren’t exactly leaping with joy over Obama administration “transparency”:
The letter, signed by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Poynter Institute, among others, accuses the White House of “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies.”
It asks the president to create an ombudsman charged with enforcing his goal of government transparency, and asks Obama “issue a clear directive telling federal employees they’re not only free to answer questions from reporters and the public, but actually encouraged to do so.”
“We believe that is one of the most important things you can do for the nation now, before the policies become even more entrenched,” the letter says.
Katie Pavlich gives us the thumbnail history that prompted the letter:
When President Obama ran for office way back in 2008, he infamously promised to have the “most transparent administration in history.” Fast forward to 2014 and the opposite has happened. Not only does the administration heavily control the narrative of information going out to the press, the White House does everything possible to keep reporters from getting their hands on important information. Not to mention, the Department of Justice has heavily monitored reporters through phone and email monitoring.
It’s not for nothing that CNN’s reporter asks incredulously after Earnest’s bragging about transparency: “You all still stick by that line?”