A coalition of 50 journalism groups Tuesday condemned President Barack Obama for his stranglehold on information – this despite promising to be the most open and transparent president.
The most recent call to end the strict control of information is not the first time the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has tried to end the practice. Despite the previous attempts, the administration has continued to ignore them. David Cuillier, a chairman for the group, noted what the Obama administration is doing falls in strict contrast to his earlier promises.
“President Obama pledged to lead the most transparent administration in history, but we have yet to see this promise fulfilled,” Cuillier said in a statement. “His term may be coming to a close, but it’s not too late to make some real changes in the way officials work with journalists to improve the accuracy and speed in which important information is relayed to the public.”
Just a day after taking office, Obama promised his administration would be more open and transparent. It is a policy stance he has since claimed to continue throughout his time in office.
“I will also hold myself as President to a new standard of openness,” he declared at the time. “Information will not be withheld just because I say so. It will be withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well grounded in the Constitution.”
SPJ sent a letter Monday directly to the White House detailing its concerns. Like previous attempts, the letter urged the administration to change how it handles information and how it deals with journalists.
“Transparency can’t just be a buzzword or an applause line,” Joshua Hatch, board vice president of the Online News Association, also argued in a statement. “It has to be a commitment from the highest levels to every hall of government. Without it, journalists are hamstrung, the public is kept in the dark and democracy suffers.”
Concerns over a lack of openness are not new. SPJ has urged for better transparency all the way back to 2011. There was some hope in 2012 that the administration was improving. At the time Politifact noted the White House was settlng up better policies and programs for the sake of openness. It was all for not though with SPJ having to call out the president again in 2014 for not adhering to his promise of transparency.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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