A free flow of information no longer

January 24, 2017 06:00

By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director
 
It didn’t take the Trump administration long to shut down the free flow of information from others in the government—besides the President, of course!

Memos obtained from the Agriculture Department and the EPA by the Associated Press and other news organizations make it clear that—for now anyway—the White House no longer wants news or information released to the public, discussed with reporters or appearing on social media.

In a memo to employees at USDA's Agricultural Research Service, chief of staff Sharon Drumm said the agency would immediately cease releasing any "public-facing" documents.

"This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content," read the email memo obtained by reporters.

Over at EPA, the situation is much the same. And there may be others we’ve yet to learn about.

We could ask why?  That’s a question that is getting a real workout in Washington these days. But we’re not sure we’d get a reasonable or even believable answer.
 
Just yesterday—a day after Sean Spicer’s disastrous debut in the White House press room—he assured reporters that the Administration would never “knowingly” lie to them. No need to lie if you just squelch the information to begin with!
 
RTDNA decries this latest attempt by President Trump to control what we know and when we know it. It is anathema to the freedom of information and the First Amendment rights that America, until now anyway, has been respected for throughout the world.
 
We’ve said it many times before in this space: President Trump and his administration must learn to understand and embrace the relationship between politician and press. It is not one of lap dogging and alternative facts. To the contrary, it is one of investigation and skepticism. 
 
In the final analysis, this is not about the media. This is about the public. Providing Americans with credible and accurate information about their government is the best way to insure our 240-year old republic will not only survive, but will prosper.