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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

President Obama defends claim as “most transparent administration in history”



Leading up to the President’s Day holiday, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s claim to be the “most transparent administration in history,” according to TechPresident on Friday, Feb. 15. The comment follows recent controversy over the administration’s argument of national security to withhold information from media in the United States and shifting preferences for which organizations get interview access to the commander-in-chief.  

In the Google+ Hangout last Thursday, Feb. 14, Obama responded to conservative blogger Kira Davis’ comment that the administration had been less than forthcoming about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the recent leaked white paper justifying the killing of U.S. citizens suspected of being Al Qaeda operatives:

"Well, actually, on a whole bunch of fronts, we've kept that promise," he said. "This is the most transparent administration in history, and I can document how that is the case -- everything from every visitor who comes into the White House is now part of the public record. That is something we changed. Every law that we pass, every rule that we implement we put online for everyone to see."

Many critics bemoan the administration’s record on leaks, the treatment of whistleblowers and its sluggish response to freedom of information requests during Obama’s first term. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the administration to use its second term to reset its legacy on whistleblowers.  

Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman noted in a column on Monday, Feb. 18, that some government documents were more available through digital means under the Obama administration but that the advances were “somewhat expected along with the world’s advances in technology and human connectivity.” 

Accusations of opacity in the administration follow its trend of communicating more directly with the public via social media and passing over newspapers for television interviews. Over the weekend, Dylan Byers reported that the White House Correspondents Association president wrote an open letter to the commander-in-chief, complaining about not having access to him during a vacation weekend in Florida. 



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