The Buck Stops with "Senior Press Official Number One"

December 2, 2015

Members of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) have complained throughout most of the Obama administration about restrictions placed on the flow of information to the news media by agency press offices. During all that time, many have had the distinct impression that the White House wanted those restrictions.

Even the WatchDog dutifully reported President Obama's 2009 declaration, on his first day in office, that his would be the "most transparent" administration in U.S. history. But we have also reported how often the administration's behavior contradicts its rhetoric.

One reason for thinking the White House endorses and enforces tight message control is the fact that many agency press secretaries — at least the ones at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — come from a background of working on presidential elections campaigns.

Journalism groups have raised their hopes now that a meeting has been scheduled with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (who was the Obama campaign's Iowa communications director in 2007). At the meeting will be representatives of SEJ, the Society of Professional Journalists, and possibly others. They are representing concerns of a coalition of more than 50 other j-groups. The meeting is expected in mid-December.

Dawn Stover's recent article on agency spin control mentioned the meeting.

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