EDITORIAL: White House is opaque about transparency

2013-11-26T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: White House is opaque about transparency nwitimes.com
November 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Obama administration promised a new era of transparency, but that shouldn't be translated as an invisibility cloak over the president.

President Barack Obama's administration has made it a practice to block news media photographers from many events, circulating photos from a White House photographer instead. That's not good enough.

A variety of news organizations — including the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors, the White House Correspondents Association, Lee Enterprises (parent company of The Times) and many others — sent White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a letter Friday that serves as a formal complaint.

The public's trust in government is built on allowing the public — via news photographers, in this instance — to witness the government at work. And let's face it, trust in the federal government is far below where it should be.

In the past, news photographers showed presidents creating history — moments like President John F. Kennedy in the days leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Jimmy Carter joining hands with Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel at the signing of the Camp David Accords and President Ronald Reagan walking out of the White House for the final time.

But the Obama administration is routinely denying the right to news photographers to photograph or videotape the president performing official duties.

This isn't a matter of national security. We're talking about events that are obviously public. Yet the White House calls the events private and sends its own photographs to the media and, via social media, to the public.

In essence, propaganda is being distributed while the news media are being shut out.

Obama promised a new era of transparency. It's a new era, all right, but not of transparency.

This administration needs to fulfill its pledge of transparency and give news photographers access to White House events, just as was the case in previous administrations.

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