FCW Insider

Blog archive

Denied! Event with White House leader closed to press

 Does closing a meeting to the press mean anything anymore?

Did it ever?

And when government officials do it, is it even legal?

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt spoke to an audience earlier this week at a breakfast hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Although it was not in any way a classified or secret event, the administration asked that it be closed to reporters, for some unfathomable reason. (NVTC confirmed that it was the administration's request, not the NVTC's idea, to close the meeting to media.)

It was a shocking display of hostility to the very idea of transparency, one of the Obama administration's watchwords, so that alone is ironic. But it's also a singularly ineffective way of preventing the message from getting out past that room, if that was the intent.

The press, as it always has, will get any important news from those who attended -- as we did in reporting Schmidt's comments about coming enforcement of Personal Identity Verification card use. All the press ban accomplishes is forcing reporters to rely on second-hand accounts rather than witnessing the presentation themselves. (Which adds opportunity for error and misconstrual that wouldn't exist if the even had just been open to coverage.)

But there's more to it than that. Everybody at the event who heard Schmidt speak has a mobile phone. Most have Twitter accounts. It's inconceivable that the White House actually believed that closing out the media would prevent the spread of anything important that he said. And a quick Twitter search using the hashtag #NVTC -- just one of several that apply -- brings up several  tweets relating parts of Schmidt's presentation.

We just don't get it. What did they accomplish with this ban, other than to contradict their own stated commitment to transparency?

Posted on Dec 16, 2010 at 12:18 PM


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.