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Obama Aide Instructs Policy Advisers: Avoid the Press

By Al Kamen
One topic on the recently-launched Obama Web site is called "Open Government." It doesn't have much under it, but we're sure the president-elect is very committed to open government.

An e-mail that was circulated Thursday only reinforces our notion of how open they'll be.

From: Larry Strickling
Date: November 6, 2008 6:58:14 PM EST
To: itw-policygroups
Cc: Priya Singh
Subject: . . . Rerminder--Decline All Reporter Interviews and Speaking Requests

This is a reminder that our communications department has directed all of you, as policy committee members, to decline all requests from reporters and all speaking invitations regarding the transition, the Administration's priorities and related issues. If you are contacted by a reporter to discuss these matters, please refer the reporter to Priya Singh at If you receive an invitation to speak on these issues at a conference or meeting, please decline the request. At this point in time, there is no one to whom to refer the request and do not offer to do so on behalf of the organization extending you the invitation. We realize these requirements may appear Draconian but so soon after the election, with the transition effort just being organized, it is important that no one who was involved with the campaign and the policy committees be speculating in public on these sensitive matters.

Doesn't appear Draconian at all. We're quite used to it.

By Web Politics Editor  |  November 7, 2008; 4:19 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , In the Loop , Transition  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: On the Web, Change You Can Change Into
Next: Obama's First Press Conference: Mission Accomplished?


WHOA, WHOA, WHOA..NO REPORTERS NOW??!! What are his "Administrations priorities" and what the H*ll is "related issues!?" He will change things quickly and covertly. I have to LOL how he has, so far, picked the same old tired, long term 'good ole boys' for many of these crucial choices IE WASHINGTON INSIDERS. CHANGE???? CHANGE MR OBAMA????--YOU ARE MORE OF A JOKE EVERY
DAY. The only change ANYONE will get from B.O. will be the change in their pocket. TRUST??? The only trust you will get from BHO is that things will get worse because of him---no one else. EVERYONE'S taxes will go up. Even the ultra-rich taxes won't go up that much. They are fiscally do you think they got that rich!? NO, the folks I really feel sorry for is the law abiding, hard working middle class who were boondoggoled by the arrogant liar. Think we should pay taxes to BO/Biden based on the %age they give to charity! Anyway, Can't wait 'til we see how BHO fixes everything...well he said he would. Don't tell me he's backtracking on his promises!? and NO-- this is NOT a racial comment---only an observation so please settle down: Does anyone else find it interesting how he seemed to keep black faces out of the camera view--people sitting/standing behind him in clear view during his speeches? Well I'll respect the new president and the office of the presidency and speak of him as kindly as the people respect and speak of Bush. LOL

Posted by: MaggieMay2 | November 9, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

God forbid they try to avoid exactly the kind of irresponsible reporting that leads to wild conjecture and speculation. Whatever happened to reporting the news without trying to make it into a bigger story? So what if President-elect Obama asks his staff not to talk to the press just's hardly uncommon for a president to have designated spokespersons.

Posted by: dchristian | November 8, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The press and individuals who post on this blog were very critical of the McCain campaign when they failed to make Sarah Palin available for interviews.

Will they now be critical of the Obama circle for doing the same?

P.S. We know Chris Matthews will defend the Obama team as he has admitted he is not a journalist but rather part of the Obama team!

Posted by: mwhoke | November 8, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

LOL! :-D

Like there is any such thing as a Free Press in any Leftist States!

Hey WaPo! WHAT were you guys thinking?

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 8, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

The press failed the American people during the campaign and they will continue to fail us!

The media will respond by praising Obama's press policies, that is what they did during the campaign and they will continue to do so.

The press will discover the 1st Amendment is not applicable under this administration.

Posted by: JoeJankovic | November 8, 2008 6:39 AM | Report abuse

What would be nice is for those reporters to see what policies Bush is trying pass before he leaves office.

Posted by: smooth3 | November 8, 2008 5:51 AM | Report abuse

Why is this such a surprise? That is what Obama did during the campaign

Posted by: danielhancock | November 8, 2008 1:40 AM | Report abuse

And so it begins...

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | November 8, 2008 12:52 AM | Report abuse

How much of Bush's administration will be treated as precedent by the next one, and the one after that?

That's the question. There are always plausible reasons for keeping information from the public. Sometimes there are good ones. Do we know that Obama and his team understand the distinction?

We do not, because they did not act on any such understanding during the campaign. Of course I'd like to believe this "gag rule" is temporary, but just about every gag rule in the history of the world has been described as temporary.

Posted by: jbritt3 | November 7, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't see what's wrong with this. Nobody knows what exactly is the final disposition. Why should anybody be running their mouth when the route has not been chosen.

Posted by: majorteddy | November 7, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

"Also, somebody please man up and marry Barack's aunt."

Come on now. Let's do this.

Posted by: pressF1 | November 7, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Obama's strongest ultra left supporters are in for a big shock.

All those cxampaign promises you felt raised Obama to near godlike status were just snake oil BS to win the election. That you were not smart enough to realize that is your own fault.

Anyone who not delusional and looks at the mess Bush is leaving would have to realize Obama could never keep all those grandeous promises. No moneys and not enough mandate to get Congress to change all the laws Obama claimed he would change.

You've been conned. You attacked Hillary and Bill for Obama. So what do you get -- Bill's advisors becoming Obama's advisors.

It could not happen to a more deserving group. 2009 will be your year of discontent!

Posted by: wj_phillips | November 7, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Geez the election was three days ago. I suspect the email was designed to avoid communications disasters so early. I don't think Obama will be sneaking around the public's back to accomplish nefarious deeds.

Hey, I didn't like it when Bush was appointed but I still gave him a chance, we should do the same for any President whether we like him/her or not.

Posted by: JRM2 | November 7, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

CHANGE WE NEED: no more open government.

Posted by: lynnL123 | November 7, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

OK, it's the Fourth Estate's job to dig for news but is it their job to create controversy? That may be Fox News' raison d'etre but the Washington Post's?

The point of the email was clear enough - don't create problems for us while we're organizing the transition. We have to focus like a laser beam and not be distracted just because someone is enterprising and wants a story.

At some point reporters have an obligation to be responsible and not butt in on delicate/intricate/complex planning. No one is offering to embed reporters in with the transition teams, unlike the Pentagon's propaganda machine that did so in the beginning of the Iraq war, co-opting the journalists who fell into their trap.

The magnitude of the problems as well as the complexity of the transition demands that you guys not whine because you're not let in on the actual planning as it occurs.

Just cut it out. You'll be let in when it's the appropriate time and it's not for you to decide when that is.

Posted by: can8tiv | November 7, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse


Yeah, ok. We expect that. Let the man lead.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | November 7, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

No more mr. nice guy. Go Obama! Wield it!

Posted by: jeplin | November 7, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I really don't see a contradiction. Like the email says, "so soon after the election, with the transition effort just being organized, it is important that no one who was involved with the campaign and the policy committees be speculating in public on these sensitive matters." There will be plenty of time to be open and transparent. Three days after the election, with barely half of the key positions staffed, is way too soon to imply that the Obama administration will not be as open as the candidate promised. (Maybe it will be, maybe it won't. It is just too soon to say.)

Posted by: v_woman | November 7, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

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