When President Obama took office, he gave journalists great hope by promising unprecedented transparency. The reality has proven to be eight years of slippage in nearly every facet of openness. As the president prepares to leave office, the Society of Professional Journalists have noted the disappointing shortfalls.
Forty journalism and open-government groups sent a letter to White House press secretary Josh Earnest* in September after he called for journalists to give the president credit for improvements in government transparency. The Society of Professional Journalists and other groups have "repeatedly outlined to the administration various ways in which transparency has gotten worse" including:
- Officials' blocking reporters' requests to talk to specific people
- Excessive delays in answering interview requests, stretching past reporters' deadlines
- Refusing to give reporters what should be public information unless they agree not to say who's speaking
- Federal agencies' blackballing of reporters who write critically of them
- Lack of meaning visual access to the pressmen try an independent press pool
[quote]"We were hoping we could point to this White House as a shining example of how it should be done," writes the Society of Professional Journalists. "Unfortunately, we can't do that and will have to start over with the next administration."[/quote]
*Earnest is the same administration official who has, without explanation, blocked the release of White House photos taken the night of the September 11, 2012 Islamic extremist attacks on the U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya. These White House photos were taken by a photographer paid with tax dollars to chronicle events of elected and public officials. The photographs depict officials conducting the public's business. Since President Obama will not disclose his actions or whereabouts throughout that night, as commander-in-chief, while Americans were under attack on foreign soil, the photos could shed light on events that went horribly wrong.
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