Editor’s Note: When first running for the presidency, Obama promised greater transparency within government. His administration has been actively striving for the opposite.
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.