I believe we just about all safely say at this point that the Biden Administration is likely the least transparent of any presidential staff in the modern era.
President Joe Biden has literally set a 100-year record for waiting the most extended amount of time before addressing the nation or congress in an official capacity or solo news conference. In addition, he is practically pulled off the stage or away from cameras and microphones on nearly every occasion.
And don’t even get me started on how often his comments are edited for official transcripts to cover up some gaffe or another.
But now, according to multiple sources, we have found out that every word published by any media outlet as part of a quote from the White House has to be approved by the Biden Administration beforehand.
And no, I’m not kidding.
According to one Politico reporter, the practice is known as “background with quote approval” and is implemented in nearly all White House interviews.
Basically, it’s a demand from the White House that if a reporter is to interview any Biden staff or officials, they first need to agree to send over their transcripts of the comments or quotes made for approval before they are allowed to publish them in a story.
And, of course, more than a few outlets and their reporters have surrendered to such demands.
Well, because if they don’t agree, that reporter is denied the interview, and it is given to someone else more willing to compromise on their integrity.
In a statement White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently wrote, which was obtained by Politico, she said, “We would welcome any outlet banning the use of anonymous background quotes that attack people personally or speak to internal processes from people who don’t even work in the administration.”
She continued saying, “At the same time, we make policy experts available in a range of formats to ensure context and substantive detail is available for stories. If outlets are not comfortable with that attribution for those officials they of course don’t need to utilize those voices.”
Essentially, this is another not-so transparent way of saying that Biden’s White House is doing their best to control the narrative, and if reporters don’t like it, well, they’ll just have to get over it or go elsewhere for their stories.
Politico’s West Wing Playbook, as their White House press department is known, has confessed to agreeing to the anti-transparent practice.
As the outlet explains, “The practice allows the White House an extra measure of control as it tries to craft press coverage. At its best, quote approval allows sources to speak more candidly about their work. At its worst, it gives public officials a way to obfuscate or screen their own admissions and words.”
Really? You don’t say?
But it seems not all outlets have been willing to agree to these terms.
Specifically, both The New York Times and The Associated Press have prohibited their reporters from agreeing to quote approval in the past.
For The Times, the ban on the practice actually goes back to 2012, when Obama was in office and applied the same need for “quote approval” by members of the White House press pool.
In a memo from that year, the outlet noted that agreeing to such a practice would give “readers a mistaken impression that we are ceding too much control over a story to our sources” and invited “meddling by press aids.”
According to Politico, The Times has not changed its policy on the issue since Obama’s administration. However, it is noted that the enforcement of the ban isn’t exactly known – meaning some Times’ reporters could be agreeing to quote approval to gain much-coveted White House interviews without anyone knowing the wiser.
Needless to say, the practice is deeply disturbing. How are we, as the American people, supposed to be able to trust anything the White House or, now any media outlet reporting on the White House, has to say if it all has to go through an approval process before it can be published?
The sad fact is that we can’t…