We’re cranky at Barack Obama over here in the sprawling Maclean’s Ottawa bureau. Turns out the new president is failing an elementary test of transparency.
This afternoon I read that Robert Gibbs, the new president’s press secretary, had disputed details of the New York Times report on Afghanistan strategy I wrote about last night. Well. Over to whitehouse.gov to look for a transcript of the press briefing.
And look. And look. And look. In vain. Because the new administration, unlike at least the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations, doesn’t post full transcripts of daily press briefings on the website. There is no end of touchy-feely Web 2.0 crap on the website, but a pretty drastic reduction in the amount of actual information, compared to what Obama’s most recent predecessors made available. On the White House blog, which I already dislike robustly, there is one partial transcript of stuff the anonymous White House blogger thinks we’ll find interesting from one briefing a couple of days ago.
This has caused a kerfuffle here and there in the U.S. blogosphere. Apparently there’s even a Facebook group. It confirms Obama’s reputation as a guy with an unhealthy tendency to try to control his own narrative at real cost to openness and transparency. It is dispiriting and, to anyone who’s worked as a journalist in Ottawa in the last couple of years, too familiar.