On March 28, 2011, a group of leading transparency advocates presented Barack Obama with an award for his efforts to open up government. The president who took office promising “an unprecedented level of openness in government” was getting his due for introducing sunlight into the murky workings of state. Supposedly. 

The meeting was closed to the media, off limits even to a promised pool photographer and reporter. The ceremony did not appear on Obama’s public schedule, and the White House did not release a transcript of the conversation, writes Mike Riggs. “Shh!” read the headline in Politico. “Obama Gets Anti-Secrecy Award.”