David Cay Johnston launched into a scathing criticism of the White House’s lack of transparency dealing with the press when he appeared as a guest on the Melissa Harris-Perry show Saturday morning.
“They have this attitude that they don’t have to answer questions from journalists if they don’t like the questions,” Johnston said. “I’m sorry, the journalist controls the privilege entirely.”
The White House Press Office’s lack of transparency even extends to the point where of maintaining anonymity when speaking to journalists over the phone.
“Nine days after the President was elected,” he said, “I wrote a piece about how I called the White House Press Office, I’ve been calling them back to the Nixon days, and people wouldn’t say who they were who answered the prone at the White House Press Office, and how that suggested something troubling that we’ve seen since then.”
Harris-Perry said that although she’d heard much the same from other reporters, she found it difficult to comprehend, especially as compared to the G.W. Bush administration.
“The Obama administration is much less open to journalists than Bush was,” Johnston said. “The Reagan admin was much more open. I had vigorous, tough conversations on the phone and in person with people from the Reagan administration. They may not like your questions, but they respected that it was their job to answer them. The Obama people are like, ‘What are you asking that for? What do you want to know that for?’ And if they don’t like the questions, they just don’t get back to you in many cases.”
Lawrence Korb, a former Reagan defense official, said, “I’m glad you said something nice about the Reagan administration!”
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