The current White House administration has been lauded as the “most transparent administration in history,” but a number of journalists are coming out, saying they have been intimidated or coerced into altering their stories for the sake of making the White House look good.
Brain Carovillano is the managing editor for US news with the AP, and spoke during a panel discussion recently on the White House’s transparency claim. “The White House push to limit access and reduce transparency has essentially served as the secrecy road map for all kinds of organizations — from local and state governments to universities and even sporting events,” said Carovillano.
Sally Buzbee, the AP’s Washington chief of bureau, has said the administration has extended its control of information to other government agencies in an indirect manner. Buzbee has said sources from these other agencies which might be willing to share information, have been warned they could be fired for simply talking to a reporter.
Many people have also asked Buzbee to compare the level of transparency present within the Obama administration and the level present during the Bush administration. “Bush was not fantastic… The (Obama) administration is significantly worse than previous administrations,” she said.
A recent Washington Post article has also said press-pool reports have been tampered with as White House aides have “demanded- and received- changes in press-pool reports before the reports have been disseminated to other journalists.”
It is important to note, press-pool reports are written by reporters for other reporters, and they are used by news outlets every day to aid in the coverage of the White House and the president.
The article from the Post does say most of the demands for changes in these press-pool reports have involved trivial matters, but what is disturbing is these demanded changes are happening in the first place. Instead of allowing journalists to report on matters from the White House with as unbiased of an opinion as they can muster, the White House has deemed it appropriate to filter and make changes to reports which concern the administration.
White House reporter Tom DeFrank said, according to the Daily Signal, “My view is the White House has no right to touch a pool report… If they want to challenge something by putting out a statement of their own, that’s their right… But they have no right to alter a pool report unilaterally.”