Today in OpenGov is back after a brief hiatus to start 2017. We are experimenting with new formats to dig deeper into the major stories of the day while still giving you all of the latest news from Washington, the states, and around the world.
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Trump vs. the media
- White House chief of staff Reince Priebus defended the President’s attack on the press on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday (Politico). He specifically criticized journalists’ use of anonymous sources.
- Meanwhile, Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain distanced themselves from Trump’s comments while supporting the role of a free press in American democracy.
- On a related note: A newspaper in Colorado is threatening to sue a State Senator who characterized them as “fake news” after the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel published a column criticizing him and supporting a bill that would boost public records access appeared in the paper. If pursued, the suit could set precedent and lead to some unintended consequences that may not be ideal for the press.(NPR)
Drip, Drip, Drip.
“Anonymous sources have always been a source of tips for reporters, but they’ve been especially prominent in the first days of the Trump administration.” (NPR)
President Trump is hitting back against leaks from the intelligence community that eventually lead to the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, reportedly asking the Justice Department to investigate (Buzzfeed). Meanwhile, Congress is getting involved with their own requests to the DoJ IG and the FBI. (Government Executive, Politico)
- The leaks have led to a renewed focus on the so-called “deep state…the secret-keepers in the United States, people who have security clearances, who have spent 10 to 20 to 30 years working in and around secrets.” (NPR)
- It is important to remember that leaks have a long history in American politics and a clear place in American democracy. The Atlantic has a timely look at “America’s first great leak investigation.”
- On a related note: We recommend Malcom Gladwell’s recent piece in The New Yorker, “Daniel Ellsburg, Edward Snowden, and the Modern Whistle-Blower“.
Fec shake up
- The FEC is not allowed to have a majority from either major political party. Traditionally Ravel’s seat would be filled by another Democrat, however there is speculation that the President could choose a Libertarian or Independent who is in favor of deregulation (Election Law Blog). This would break the longstanding deadlock at the agency, while leading to even more money in the already flooded system.
Where is all the data going?
- Sunlight has been supporting efforts to preserve federal data, working with DataRefuge, tracking open data that has disappeared since the start of the Trump administration, and publicly discussing missing data — including the recent disappearance of Obama-era White House visitor logs. It’s not open season on open data just yet, but we are watching carefully.
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