In a word… Yes!
To quote a poet laureate somewhere in the annals of baseball, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”
You may recall a story last week about journalism groups, led by the Society for Professional Journalists, demanding the Obama Administration open up the doors to give them the access they were promised almost seven long years ago. Now, someone in the White House is at it again.
And this time, it gets even shadier because the meetings in question concerned two top Democratic Super PACs.
When a winning candidate takes the oath of office, he or she effectively agrees that the days of private citizenship are over.
My former colleagues in the press call it “accountability.” If you’re in a position of power and have the ability to hide from the public, people assume that you cannot be trusted.
Cameras turn in your direction. Reporters write down your every word. Pundits complain or praise your actions (but usually complain). And why? Because they can. In fact, that’s what people pay them to do.
This time, we learn from Politico, the presidential Heisman came when Obama traveled to the West Coast to meet with two influential Democratic Super PACs.
Although the press corps sat comfortably on Air Force Once in their usual places, they were told that they were not coming along for the ride to former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal’s house in the Seattle suburbs. The following day, he met with big donors for the House Majority PAC at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown San Francisco.
In Seattle, the media were not even allowed within eye range of the home. In San Francisco, they weren’t even told what floor he was on.
This problem has nothing to do with “liberal”, “conservative” or any single office-holder; it’s about the public’s access to its leaders as facilitated by members of the media.
“We think these fundraisers ought to be open to at least some scrutiny, because the president’s participation in them is fundamentally public in nature,” said Christi Parsons, the new president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “Denying access to him in that setting undermines the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing. It’s of special concern as these events and the donors they attract become more influential in the political process.”
This isn’t about “monitoring” any more, Christi; this is all about trust. And now that President Obama is in “lame duck” territory and both parties are approaching full campaign mode, the press will almost certainly continue to get door shut in their collective faces.