As the Biden team moves forward with their transition into the White House, despite votes still being tallied and Trump campaign lawsuits pending in a number of swing states, reporters have already started noticing a lack of transparency.
Discouraging signs about the Biden team and press access so far: no regular transition briefings, no readouts of calls with foreign leaders (as noted by @AlxThomp in pool report today), no open press access to the candidate and his people. This is a break with tradition.— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) November 10, 2020
Why are Americans hearing about Biden’s calls with foreign governments from those countries first & not from the #BidenTransition team? So far #Canada #Turkey #UK calls all released by those countries 1st & by Biden team only much later.— Gillian Turner (@GillianHTurner) November 11, 2020
This kind of behavior is very similar to how President Obama handled the press. There should be no surprise about the lack of transparency. In fact, the press should be nervous about what's to come despite the Biden team claiming open briefings are coming. A reminder from the Associated Press:
Former President Barack Obama’s recent denunciation of President Donald Trump’s treatment of the press overlooks the aggressive steps the Justice Department took to keep information from the public during his administration. Obama also made a problematic claim that Republican “sabotage” has cost 3 million people their health insurance.
Trump may use extraordinary rhetoric to undermine trust in the press, but Obama arguably went farther — using extraordinary actions to block the flow of information to the public.
The Obama administration used the 1917 Espionage Act with unprecedented vigor, prosecuting more people under that law for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous administrations combined. Obama’s Justice Department dug into confidential communications between news organizations and their sources as part of that effort.
In 2013 the Obama administration obtained the records of 20 Associated Press office phone lines and reporters’ home and cell phones, seizing them without notice, as part of an investigation into the disclosure of information about a foiled al-Qaida terrorist plot.
AP was not the target of the investigation. But it called the seizure a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news-gathering activities, betraying information about its operations “that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
Obama’s Justice Department also secretly dogged Fox News journalist James Rosen, getting his phone records, tracking his arrivals and departures at the State Department through his security-badge use, obtaining a search warrant to see his personal emails and naming him as a possible criminal conspirator in the investigation of a news leak.