This morning, Obama Administration paid liar Josh Earnest spoiled my Christmas mellow by telling CNN’s alleged news media ethics watchdog Brian Stelter that there’s really “no constituency in American politics for transparency in government beyond journalists,” as he deflected Stelter’s accounts of journalists complaining about administration foot-dragging on Freedom of Information Act requests. Then he really curdled the ethicist’s eggnog by saying,
“If this constituency of journalists are gonna be effective advocates for the issue that they care about, they need to remember that they have a responsibility not just to criticize those who are not living up to their expectations. Any activist will tell you that the way that you get people to support you and to support your cause is to give them credit when the credit is due, to applaud them when they do the thing that you want them to be doing.”
Finally, Earnest molded my mistletoe by claiming, “President Obama has been the most transparent president in American history.”
Stelter, of course, being an incompetent, biased and unethical news media ethics watchdog, did not interjection with the mandatory, “WHAT??? You’ve got to be kidding! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ACK! ACK! ARRRGH! and drop dead in shock.
That statement is fake news if anything is, rivaling the news media lie that that the Obama years were devoid of major scandals. Before we begin shooting fish in a barrel and deal with that brazen-beyond-belief spin, let’s pause to consider the other stunner in Earnest’s Christmas morning performance:
1. What does Earnest mean that journalists are the only constituency for transparency? Does the Obama administration, and by extension Democrats, really believe that the public doesn’t mind being lied to? If so, that explains a lot, including the nomination of Hillary Clinton.
2. Journalists are not supposed to advocates and activists at all. They are supposed to be devoted to communicating facts and the truth.
3. Is Earnest saying that when a President generally defies a pledge of ethical conduct, he should nonetheless be praised when he doesn’t defy that pledge, and that journalists should highlight the Administration’s rare examples of transparency while ignoring the overwhelmingly more copious breaches? It sure sounded like it.
That brings us back to the mind-melting quote that this has been a transparent administration by any definition of the word other than “not transparent at all.”
“President Obama was scheduled to receive an award from the organizers of the Freedom of Information Day Conference, to be presented at the White House by “five transparency advocates.” The White House postponed that meeting because of events in Libya and Japan, and it was rescheduled…That meeting did take place – behind closed doors. The press was not invited to the private transparency meeting, and no photos from or transcript of the meeting have been made available. The event was not listed on the president’s calendar…Nor is the award mentioned anywhere on the White House website, including on the page devoted to transparency and good government. Were it not for the testimony of the transparency advocates who met secretly with the president, there wouldn’t seem to be any evidence that the meeting actually took place.”
That’s right: Obama wasn’t transparent about a transparency meeting. That same day, Obama went on TV and tried to explain why he hadn’t been transparent to the U.S. Congress about his military plans in Libya. Shortly after that, news leaked that the Fed had secretly sent billions in loans to foreign banks during the financial crisis.
Ah, memories! On his second day on the job, January 21, 2009, that…President Obama famously pledged, in one of his first memos to federal agencies
“We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”
He may be right about that last part, or maybe he discovered that it was naive and impractical dream. Under no circumstances, however, can it be said that Obama’s administration was transparent. An exhaustive list is impossibly, long, but here is an incomplete sample just from the posts in Ethics Alarms:
- The so-called signature effort of Obama’s administration so far, health care reform, was accomplished with an intentional absence of transparency, producing a law that nobody, even the Democratic Senators and Congressmen voting for it, fully understood or even read. Later, when the law finally went into effect, it was discovered that Obama’s repeated promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan, period” was a lie.
Stipulated: Lies are not “transparency.”
- Later still, key Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber revealed in multiple public appearances that the law was intentionally misrepresented to the public. Obama, in public remarks, feigned unawareness of Gruber’s central role and claimed that he was not a major figure in the creation or passage of the ACA.
- When the recovery from the recession was really stuttering, the Obama Labor Department used unemployment figures that counted temporary census workers to hide the bad news.
- Aside from the four President stretch from Nixon to Reagan, Obama has held press conferences less frequently that any President since they began during the Coolidge years. That means the President who claimed to be the most transparent in history faced direct questions from the press less often than Silent Cal, FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Clinton and both Bushes.
Verdict: not transparent.
- Reporters Charles Ornstein and Hagit Limor listed examples of the administration’s reluctance to provide information in the area of science, writing,
“…After last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists and environmental groups accused the administration of hiding or underreporting the extent of the spill and its impact on the environment. Federal officials frequently deferred to BP in providing data on issues from cleanup workers’ health problems to oil spill flow estimates. The government also placed restrictions on airspace for weeks, keeping media photographers from seeing the scope of the spill….The Food and Drug Administration placed an unusual restriction on reporters when announcing changes to its medical device approval process this year. In exchange for providing the information to the media ahead of time, reporters were told they could not seek insights from outside experts before the formal announcement. This ensured the first version of the story contained only the FDA’s official position and ran counter to the way medical journals handle such embargoes…In more than a third of requests made for public records last year, the administration failed to provide any information at all, the Associated Press reported. Despite an increase in requests, the Obama administration is releasing fewer records under the Freedom of Information Act than the Bush administration did. And when a response is provided, it often is incomplete or comes years later. The AP noted ironically that the Obama administration even censored 194 pages of internal e-mails about its Open Government Directive. Our members have seen this phenomenon day in and day out, impeding their ability to give readers a complete picture of their government’s actions and omissions…”
- Obama allowed his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton (remember her?) to intentionally evade the FOIA by improperly using a private server for all of her communications. When the private server, which imperiled U.S. security, became known, the President claimed that he knew nothing about it.
Later, we learned that he had communicated with Clinton through the server, using a fake name.
- Another “signature accomplishment” of the Obama Administration—the controversial Iran nuclear deal—was also achieved by deceiving the public and Congress.
From the Washington Post:
“One of President Obama’s top national security advisers led journalists to believe a misleading timeline of U.S. negotiations with Iran over a nuclear-disarmament agreement and relied on inexperienced reporters to create an “echo chamber” that helped sway public opinion to seal the deal, according to a lengthy magazine profile.
Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told the New York Times magazine that he helped promote a “narrative” that the administration started negotiations with Iran after the supposedly moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected president in 2013. In fact, the administration’s negotiations actually began earlier, with the country’s powerful Islamic faction, and the framework for an agreement was hammered out before Rouhani’s election.
The distinction is important because of the perception that Rouhani was more favorably disposed toward American interests and more trustworthy than the hard-line faction that holds ultimate power in Iran.”
- Incredibly, the Obamas even tried to hide an extravagant “private party” at the White House in 2015. From that post:
How many of the “private” guests will write big checks, or already have, to Obama’s inevitable Presidential library, or to Democratic candidates, or Hillary’s campaign? If there are any, isn’t this just a re-run of Clinton’s use of the Lincoln bedroom as a fundraising tool? How will we know? Is that why this party was “secret”? Al Sharpton was there. He’s a tax evader, a race-baiter, a racist, a liar, a fraud and a crook. Are there other verifiable miscreants that the Obamas consider close friends? I don’t have any friends this despicable, do you? What do you think about the values of a leader who is friends with people like Sharpton?
Wait, you say, he is just a political ally, and this invitation may have just cemented a useful political relationship. Oh. Well it’s not a completely private party then, is it? Meanwhile, aren’t we entitled to know what other low-lifes, crooks and miscreants made the cut? …Were other journalists there? Was George Stephanopoulos? Chuck Todd? Eugene Washington? Were only black journalists, (or those identifying as black) invited? What would that tell us? Shouldn’t we know?…
A main ethical breach of the Obama’s party is incompetence.
Are Democrats and progressives intentionally setting out to see how much hypocrisy the public will tolerate? Income inequality! The greedy rich! The invisible poor! A hedge fund tycoon gives his millions to Harvard, rather than to more needy education! And the Democratic, progressive, President of the United States and his wife give away a million bucks for one night of their own entertainment.
The party and its handling is completely consistent with the arrogance and total leadership tone-deafness Obama has exhibited from the moment he took office. It is also indefensible, and pay attention to who defends it.
We’re still just scratching the surface. The Obama Administration was not honest about Benghazi, sending then U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice out to all the networks to deny that it was an organized terrorist attack. It was not transparent about the IRS scandal, and is stonewalling still. When the administration exchanged deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five detained terrorists, the White House falsely portrayed Bergdahl as a hero. It also intentionally failed to inform the Senate before approving the dubious deal. Then there was the deceptive ransom for hostages trick with Iran.
Most transparent Presidency ever.