False: White House press secretary says Obama is the most transparent president ever

The White House isn’t just downplaying the letter from a group of journalists blasted the Obama administration’s “politically-drive suppression of the news.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in an interview on CNN, claimed that Barack Obama is the Most Transparent President™ ever:

President Obama is “absolutely” the most transparent president in history, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Sunday after the White House received a letter from signed by a dozen top journalists’ groups complaining about the administration’s policies toward the media.

“There are a number of steps that we’ve taken to give people greater insight into what’s happening at the White House,” Earnest said in an interview with CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
Earnest noted that previous administrations had “gone to the Supreme Court” to prevent the release of White House visitor information, but that the Obama administration “releases it voluntarily on the Internet on a quarterly basis.”

“Reporters for years clamored to get access to fundraisers the president hosted or attended that were hosted in private homes,” Earnest continued. “Reporters now have access to those when this president goes to a private home.”

The examples of “transparency” that Earnest cites are almost laughable. Yeah, cool, the White House is providing access to visit data on a quarterly basis. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and The New York Times had to take President Obama’s Justice Department to court to win the release of the memo outlining the legal justification for the assassination of American citizens. After two months of wrangling, the administration finally released it.

Let’s go over that again. The federal government claimed the power to kill its own citizens, denying them the rights to due process and trial by jury, and tried to keep that memo from ever seeing the light of day. Hey, but at least you’ll know who has been visiting the White House.

Oh, and reporters may have access to fundraisers in private homes, but everyone who attends is forced to check their cell phones at the door. Additionally, reporters are usually removed from the room before President Obama takes questions from donors.

The sad thing is that these are just a couple of examples to which we can point showing that Earnest is entirely full of it. We’re not even getting into the NSA’s domestic spying programs — which, even after they were publicly exposed, President Obama and administration officials still constantly misrepresented them — or the White House’s obsessive review of Freedom of Information Act requests and refusal to comply with them in record numbers.

Simply put, President Obama has failed on transparency. And it’s quite possible that his administration is worse than his predecessor, a truly remarkable feat given how bad the Bush administration was.

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