The White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office. The White House said the cleanup of FOIA regulations is consistent with court rulings that hold that the office is not subject to the transparency law. The office handles, among other things, White House record-keeping duties like the archiving of emails.
The White House said Monday a no-fly zone the U.S. government imposed over Ferguson, Mo., for nearly two weeks in August should not have restricted helicopters for news organizations that wanted to operate in the area to cover violent protests there.
A coalition of news organizations said Thursday that the White House limits on access raise constitutional concerns about infringement on First Amendment press freedoms and have “a direct and adverse impact on the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing.”
Recent presidents have limited their use of the Oval Office address, increasingly opting for other modes of communication as cable and the Web compete for viewers’ attention.
The Obama administration would like to see greater protections for reporters who refuse to identify sources, even as officials faced anger over the seizure of Associated Press records.
With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach.