More fireworks this week in D.C. involving questions and media complaints about how the Obama administration tries to manage the news. But it looks like standard procedure is following a rutted path with ruts that just get deeper. Is this disregard for government's duty to serve the public with transparency except in truly dire circumstances ever going to change?
Howard Kurtz reports today in the Washington Post: "Less than an hour after President Obama announced his Supreme Court nominee yesterday, two 'senior administration officials' began holding forth for reporters on the virtues of Sonia Sotomayor.
"Several journalists in the Roosevelt Room briefing protested, saying there was no reason the officials couldn't speak on the record. One of the briefers, senior adviser David Axelrod, would be making a similar case on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and PBS within hours. But Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stood his ground: No names could be attached."
Ridiculous. At least a briefing was being held. But with a curtain of secrecy imposed, the briefing amounted to bits of sunshine blasting past the edges of pulled drapes. As Kurtz noted, the drapes were about to be opened. So what gives with the "no-names" dictate? The public's tired of political games. Let the media do their work for us.
Kurtz reported further: "'We protest in the strongest terms the Obama administration's frequent use of briefings done on a background basis . . . especially when the same officials briefing often appear ubiquitously on television shows with similar information,' said Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press, president of the White House Correspondents' Association. She said this was particularly true on a Supreme Court nomination, 'when the issue does not involve sensitive material such as national security information.'
Asked for a response, Gibbs said it was 'interesting' that the AP had no qualms about relying on unnamed 'officials' in breaking the news of Sotomayor's nomination. 'I'm not sure today is the day I'd make that argument,' he said."
I'm not sure today's the day to feel confident that the public's right to know is a priority.