President Obama frequently claims that he’s leading “the most transparent administration in history,” as he asserted last February during a Google Plus “Fireside” Hangout.
But that self-administered pat on the back is belied by The Washington Post’s recentaccount of how the president’s spin doctors allegedly tried to rewrite quotes from reporter Barton Gellman’s interview with the National Security Agency’s chief compliance officer. The interview was conducted for Gellman’s blockbuster story on the NSA’s persistent unauthorized surveillance since 2008 of thousands of Americans’ phone calls and emails, and the super-secret agency’s apparent policy of covering up its improper domestic spying.
At a time when Obama communications specialists seem to have grown accustomed to attempting to make reporters accessories to White House message-control in return for granting access to policymakers, the Post stiffened its spine and drew a line in the sand—a stand on principle that is generally being applauded by other news outlets that operate in Washington. New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, for one, praised her competitor for refusing to go along with the NSA’s request that a self-justifying prepared statement be substituted for a pointed interview about the agency’s mistakes.