President Barack Obama and White House officials have failed to adequately respond to a letter they received from some of the nation's top organizations representing thousands of professional journalists as well as open government groups disturbed over Obama's "excessive controls" implemented by his agencies' public information officers (PIO), according to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) on Monday.
The Society of Professional Journalists, with a membership of close to 10,000 print, broadcast and Internet journalists, along with 37 other journalism organizations and government watchdog groups -- with additional retroactive signatories bringing the total to 48 major organizations -- sent a letter to Obama on July 8, 2014, the administration's prohibition of reporters communicating with agencies' staff members without first contacting the given agency's Public Information Officers (PIOs).
The Obama White House also required government PIOs to review and okay interview questions prior to the interviews and required the PIOs to monitor the actual interviews between journalists and the government sources. SPJ noted that such practices "have become increasingly pervasive for decades, but have significantly advanced in the past several years."
When the organizations' signatories received no response from the entire Obama administration they followed up with another letter they sent to the White House on Aug. 5, 2014, after nearly a month of no response to the July 8 letter.
"It's paradoxical that the same people who helped get the man elected and helped him and his minions to cover up their misdeeds, are now complaining about being 'controlled' when gathering the news," said political strategist Mike Baker.
"Do this nation's newsroom denizens really expect to have their cakes and eat then, too? Welcome to the corrupt Chicago Way," Baker quipped.
On Monday, the signatories finally received a response from the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. In the response letter Earnest argued that President Obama and his minions have been transparent and have actually improved government openness through the protection of whistleblowers, Freedom of Information Act revisions and allowing easy access to visitor logs through the White House website.
But according to SPJ's press statement, "Nowhere did Earnest address the other concerns raised by the dozens of journalism groups in their July 8 letter, particularly journalists' restricted access to sources, government scientists and officials who have critical information of public interest."
"Typical spin and response through non-response," said SPJ President David Cuillier. "While we applaud efforts to people's access to their government through websites and FOIA, nowhere does the White House address specific concerns about excessive message management and preventing journalists from getting information on behalf of citizens."