Journalists: ‘Stifling of free expression is happening’ despite pledge
The situation on the border is just one among many where the Obama administration is stifling the press.
He might as well have said, “If you like your government transparency, you can keep your government transparency.”
38 journalistic organizations have signed a letter urging President Obama to stop excessively restricting public information from reporters. It seems as Obama expands the power of the federal bureaucracies, they are simultaneously becoming less cooperative with the press. Big surprise.
(Imagine how excessive the controls would be if the press actually tried to look into things that could damage Obama politically.)
An excerpt of the letter from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) page:
The stifling of free expression is happening despite your pledge on your first day in office to bring “a new era of openness” to federal government – and the subsequent executive orders and directives which were supposed to bring such openness about.
Recent research has indicated the problem is getting worse throughout the nation, particularly at the federal level. Journalists are reporting that most federal agencies prohibit their employees from communicating with the press unless the bosses have public relations staffers sitting in on the conversations. Contact is often blocked completely. When public affairs officers speak, even about routine public matters, they often do so confidentially in spite of having the title “spokesperson.” Reporters seeking interviews are expected to seek permission, often providing questions in advance. Delays can stretch for days, longer than most deadlines allow. Public affairs officers might send their own written responses of slick non-answers. Agencies hold on-background press conferences with unnamed officials, on a not-for-attribution basis.
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.
The SPJ links to a list of examples of government officials interfering with reporting including instances of:
- 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.
It is happening with every one of this administration’s failures and scandals.