Donald Trump

Trump Makes Government Leaks Great Again!

Orders media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency


Ron Sachs/Pool via CNP/Sipa/Newscom

First, let's acknowledge the Obama administration was obsessive about controlling the flow of information from the executive branch. The "most transparent administration in history" simply wasn't. In 2015, 40 journalism and government accountability organizations under the auspices of the Society of Professional Journalists sent an open letter to President Obama complaining about the lack of transparency. The letter listed among other techniques used by the administration to keep the media tamed:

prohibiting staff from communicating with journalists unless they maneuver through public affairs offices or through political appointees; refusing to allow reporters to speak to staff at all, or delaying interviews past the point they would be useful; monitoring interviews; and speaking only on the condition that the official not be identified even when he or she has title of spokesperson….

The public has a right to be alarmed by these constraints–essentially forms of censorship–that have surged at all levels of government in the past few decades. Surveys of journalists and public information officers (PIOs) demonstrate that the restraints have become pervasive across the country; that some PIOs admit to blocking certain reporters when they don't like what is written; and that most Washington reporters say the public is not getting the information it needs because of constraints. An SPJ survey released in April confirmed that science writers frequently run into these barriers.

President Donald Trump is evidently taking a lesson out of the Obama administration's media squelching playbook, at least initially. Specifically, the Environmental Protection Agency has reportedly received memoranda from the White House ordering what has been described a "temporary media blackout." Every incoming administration needs time to get organized and, of course, seeks to control the flow of information from executive agencies so as to put its policies in the best light. In the short run, that's annoying to those who want to know how their government is performing at any given time, but is to be expected.

The Obama administration was, for the most part, able to keep unflattering leaks to a minimum largely because the bulk of the federal workforce was simpatico with its policies. This is unlikely to be the case with the Trump administration. If Trump tries to keep federal workers muzzled past a short transition period, I predict that he will succeed brilliantly in making government leaks great again! Maybe some minor portion of national security information needs to be kept secret, but it's hard to see why any information, data, studies, and reports that the EPA and other agencies produce should be kept from the public and press.

NEXT: Lavabit, Snowden's Favorite Encrypted Email Service, Returns from the Dead

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  1. Fuck the EPA. Thar is all.

  2. Depends on what is being muzzled. Personal opinion masquerading behind the "legitimacy" of government, or information on what they are doing. I'm fine with personal opinions being banned as long as the facts they gather still get out.

  3. He's keeping it secret that he is shuttering the entire agency.

    1. Plus he's hiding evidence of his new Weather Dominator machine...

  4. Trump's in the process of cutting the EPA's nuts out which is a very good thing. The media blackout is being done so they can't get the word out using official govt. channels in order to garner sympathy. Not a bad thing at all.

  5. What are the progs saying?

    Freaking out?

    Yukon Ho, yo.

  6. Here's a question reason --- if Gary Johnson had been elected, would he have done as many Libertarian things in 4 years as Trump is doing now?

    Why do I think Gary Johnson would have just cowered against the Left and the Media?

    1. Because you're a good judge of character?

      1. Fuck you. Gary Johnson is the Maginot Line on the scale of Libertarian disappointment.

        He should be set adrift along with that halfwit Sarwark.

    2. What's the EPA?

      1. We aren't allowed to say, pay attention.

    3. Yes, his veto record alone suggests he would be more Libertarian, and it's hard to see GayJay dropping bombs on countries without a declaration of war.

      Please quit saying Trump does Libertarian things. He doesn't have a Libertarian bone in his body. He may by sheer dumb coincidence do something that Libertarians aren't offended by.

      1. I think he's the kind of guy who likes messing with people he views as enemies. Given who his biggest enemies are, he might wind up doing a few things we like. Otherwise, I'd agree with your assessment.

        1. I'd argue that he does have some fairly libertarian views/tendencies - appointing private sector competent people to head departments. Federal hiring freeze. Fiscal restraint and competent governance are totally libertarian. Now, the fiscal restraint may not extend too far ($1T 'infrastructure'), but cutting the federal workforce by 20% would be a gift that keeps on giving.

          The dude is going to do some very un-libertarian things, but he hasn't yet AFAIK.

          1. For a lot of people libertarian = hostile to religion, good with tax payer abortion, import migrants to live off the government paycheck, and shrink the military to the size of Luxembourg's.

            So if you're into that line of bullshit, and GJ was, that nothing Trump does is libertarian.

            If however, you want to shrink government, stop paying for people's choices to fuck, leave religious people alone, reduce migrants sucking on the government teat, and use the fedgov for maybe it's only real purpose of defense than Trump is fairly libertarian.

            1. Well maybe, I think we should hold our breath on Trump a little bit longer to see how he plays out.

              But I do think you've accurately described the pussy vs. non-pussy factions of the L party. The pussy faction isn't really interested in running any real campaigns or winning any elections. They are happy being pussies, and pussies will never really struggle or fight for anything.

        2. This^^^^^^^

      2. About the only promising thing about Trump's talk (outside of hope for decent supreme court appointment(s)) was his hyperbolic promises about cutting regulation. If this is actually the beginning of him moving on that (which it does look like) then we have to give him credit.

        As WP points out (in between listing all the poor disadvantaged people EPA rent-seekers aim to "help") it isn't all that unusual. But still, looking promising so far.

      3. Johnson would have been too busy suing bakeries to make sure they baked gay wedding cakes to bomb anyone. And besides you have to know a country exists to bomb it.

    4. Because you like Trump and dislike Johnson?

      I think he would have been much more libertarian. Trump isn't doing any libertarian things. He's doing more things that I kind of like than I had expected. But nothing that I'd call "libertarian" yet. Maybe if he actually manages to cut regulation anywhere close to as much as he promised.

      Anyway, Johnson never had a chance of getting elected, so it's a completely useless counterfactual.

      1. FTR, I voted for Johnson and not for Trump.

        I'm just used to anyone that gets in who's not left, immediately cowering under the Press and etc

    5. For better or for worse, Trump seems to be a doer, albeit in an indirect macromanagey way, which might not be adequate to deal with a hostile Panem. Gary seemed more like a go-along to get-along person in his campaign, though it may have just been an attempt to create an electable image. But vetoes aside, was he ever so aggressive using every power at his disposal to implement his base's agenda? Was that base libertarian, or pot-smoking Republican?

  7. This is fucking fascinating. I really didn't expect this level of good shit from Trump. (sorry SIV, you didn't call this)

    1. Click the link and read the WaPo article. The part about a media blackout has been Memory Holed?.

      1. I love this part of the article:

        "And his nominee to run the agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has repeatedly sued the EPA over the years, challenging its legal authority to regulate everything from mercury pollution to various wetlands and waterways to carbon emissions from power plants."

        ...and clearly all standing water puddles qualify as waterways.

    2. (sorry SIV, you didn't call this)

      Oh yes I did.

      1. Bull

  8. "I'm fine with personal opinions being banned as long as the facts they gather still get out."

    The position of Trump's minister in charge of banning personal opinion is probably still open. If you move quickly you might have a cushy and worthwhile job waiting for you.

      1. Is mfalseman really a TROOTHER? Or is this just a meme?

        1. It's a meme, but I'm pretty sure he's a truther too. It is known.

          1. Full disclosure: I have a couple no-shit deep down the fucking rabbit hole truthers in my family, and it ain't pretty.

            1. Tell them that Bush did 5/28 as well.

  9. So, yesterday i was assured that Trump has outlawed abortion. When i explained what had actually happened was a reinstatement of long time US policy preventing US tax dollars from being used to provide abortion, i was lectured about "sliding slopes".
    Today, this same woman informs me that Trump has signed acts disbanding the EPA and the FDA. I told her she is the victim of fake news.

    1. Today, this same woman informs me that Trump has signed acts disbanding the EPA and the FDA. I told her she is the victim of fake news.

      It'd be awesome if she was correct, though.

      1. "Friend, if that were true you'd see me drinking at nine AM in celebration."

    2. You should start placing bets with her for blowjobs if she's wrong.

      1. I was going to say, he'd better be sexing her to put up with that level of ignorance.

    3. Don't leave us hanging. What was her response to the fake news jab? Be specific.

  10. I don't think it's an entire blackout - some light will be sure to get through and that ray of light will blaze like a beacon. In fact, you might even say that by drawing attention to it, Bailey has lit some sort of signal.

  11. But not in recent history has such a blanket freeze taken place, and one employee told ProPublica he did not recall anything like it in nearly a decade with the agency.

    I bet this guy has been there for just under eight years.


    From the same guy who had Reagan riding a Velociraptor


    1. Digging the kill marks. Nice touch.

      Can't figure out what the yellow flag is meant to be.

      1. Gadsdan flag?

        1. Yep, that's what it is. Hysterical pic.

          1. I just caught Trump's wrestling belt. Awesome.

            1. Oh snap, missed that.

              Plus the solid gold treads, and I think that grenade launcher is launching a bottle of Trump vodka.

              1. It's like tripping to a Dali painting. Or so I've heard.

  13. With all the fake newz floating around, this might be a way to muzzle any of the EPA watermelons from openly lying to the press to blackmail the incoming administrators. That would be my guess, anyway.

    Paranoid? Yes. But I consider maybe 2% of the EPA's current responsibility to fall under 'legitimate government' anyway.

  14. I thought about whether this was a particularly bad thing, but I have worked at private organizations where they tell all employees to keep mum to the press and point them to public relations.

    Which is reasonable enough to me. If you really really want to you can always leak it anyway. Just be ready to lose your job for it.

    1. I was thinking that too. I'm not allowed to post anything on behalf of my company. Everyone is explicitly forbidden from posting except for our Marketing Department.

      Most companies have similar social media policies. So why the freak out over this?

      1. "I was thinking that too. I'm not allowed to post anything on behalf of my company. Everyone is explicitly forbidden from posting except for our Marketing Department."

        I'm a taxpayer; that's MY info. Not so with a company.

        1. info? from tweets?


  15. Remember the sailor who got in trouble for taking pictures of sensitive areas of a nuclear sub? He's appealing to Trump for a pardon.

    1. He should have identified as a woman a week ago.

      1. He should pick a purtier name than Chelsea and look better in a dress. Otherwise he risks sitting in the slammer until some future president's end of term.

  16. I'll sheepishly admit that his hostility to the media was kind of fun during the campaign-- because he didn't have any power. I'm glad the media is all incensed and everything-- it's good, seriously. But they've lost a lot of credibility over the last eight years-- and to think everyone thought they were giving Bill Clinton a pass.

    1. I'm sure that a journalism of some sort will emerge in the chaos. But right now it's unclear what purpose the existing institutions serve to the public that couldn't be done just as well (better, in many respects) by literate citizens with time on their hands generating primary sources and opinion, made searchable by a mix of algorithms and content curators.

  17. You guys missed the best part.

    "New EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately," read the email, which was shared with The Washington Post. "Until we receive further clarification, which we hope to have soon, please construe this to include task orders and work assignments."

    According to its website, each year the EPA awards more than $4 billion in funding for grants and other assistance agreements. For now, it appears, that funding is on hold, casting a cloud of uncertainty over one of the agency's core functions, as well as over the scientists, state and local officials, universities and Native American tribes that often benefit from the grants.

    1. and Native American tribes that often benefit from the grants.


      1. Anti-Climate Change Dances don't pay for themselves you know.

    2. one of the agency's core functions

      Throwing my tax dollars out the window?

    3. Who the fuck gave the EPA the authority to give away tax payer money to begin with? Just another fucking reason they shouldn't exist.

  18. file under: memory hole

    Twitter removes post by NYU professor who blasted PC culture on college campuses

    A controversial New York University professor returned from paid leave only two days ago and he is already back in the hot seat after Twitter deleted one of his tweets advocating free speech and railing against so-called social justice warriors (SJW).

    Michael Rectenwald, who was put on paid leave last October following an uproar over a tweet criticizing the "liberal totalitarian costume surveillance" promoted by NYU resident advisers, saw a well-read tweet of his disappear from Twitter without any explanation from the social media company.

    "It had to be someone within the Twitter administration," Rectenwald told Fox News. "Instead of calling it social media, they should call it social justice media."

    1. "But as long as he airs his views with so little appeal to evidence and civility, we must find him guilty of illogic and incivility in a community that predicates its work in great part on rational thought and the civil exchange of ideas."

      -Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group

      You can't parody this stuff any more.

      1. They're peaceful, and if you say they're not, they'll fucking kill you.

      2. I'm reminded of nothing so much as one of the finest Twilight Zone episodes.

        1. Great episode! Enjoyed that during this year's New Year's marathon.

      3. I actually went and read that "letter to the editor". Holy god, those people can't write a sentence that isn't 10-feet deep in horseshit.

        Its co-signed by students and professors, so its unclear who wrote it, but its basically "C"-grade english.

        The letter accuses the person of a variety of "fallacies", then omits actually specifying the statements where they exist... basically committing the straw man while accusing him of straw manning.

        Nothing makes me more furious than hearing someone argue that their opponent "implies" X. They never deal with the actual things people say, but instead against the things they "intuited" from their statements.

        then there's the whole "burying weak statements in gibberish and rhetorical flourish" stuff.

        basically, reading stuff like that is like watching the English language being taken to Abu Gharib prison and gang-raped until its a weeping mess.

        1. And linking to tweets which have since been deleted as evidence of his ungoodthink. Good work there.

  19. file under: atheist or asshole?

    Cross memorial for fallen veterans back up after public outcry

    A Memorial Day cross display honoring fallen soldiers is back up Wednesday along a state highway in Georgia, after it was taken down last week amid controversy.

    The 79 white, handmade crosses posted on public property along state Highway 92 in Hiram, Ga., were meant to represent the 79 Paulding County residents who died in America's wars, according to town officials.

    But the crosses were abruptly taken down last Friday after someone called Hiram City Hall questioning whether the soldiers were all Christian.

    1. Seems a fair point. I know I certainly wouldn't want anyone using my death to promote our strong Muslim/Christian/Jewish culture. I'm none of those things.

      Perhaps the spirit of honoring can be fine, but the symbolism needs work. I suggest 79 AK-47s and a line in sand.

    2. It's a fair question - if the government owns the cemetery, it shouldn't imply that all the soldiers were of the same religion - of course, ideally, individual tombstones can totally emphasize the soldier's particular faith.

    3. I don't think I'd mind being honored by a cross. Because I'd be dead. And if my family took the notion to contest it, well, I'd be dead so I couldn't tell them to move on and do something useful with their lives. But if I could I'd tell them to make with the giant pagan statue of me.

    1. If they want it gone that bad, they could always just try to burn it.

  20. I hate to throw cold water on a good 2 minutes hate, but the link to the WaPo article goes to an article that says nothing about a media blackout at EPA. It's about a contracts and grants freeze. The WaPo's own link to the article indicates the article covers both a contract/grant freeze and media blackout, but the article says nothing about the latter.


    1. Yeah if you look at the reason link it mentions the media blackout, but it takes you to the freeze story. Dunno. Perhaps an error or perhaps the story is changing as they learn more.

      1. Maybe 'media blackout' means that narrative building just got a lot harder.

      2. On the right side of the WaPo page is a link that also indicates there was a media blackout. Don't these fools know that to memory hole something right, all evidence must be eradicated?

    2. WaPo isn't the only place you can read about the anti-science apocalypse blackout.

      1. Why do you hate children clean air and water?

        1. Look, we can't have clean air and water if we don't waste billions in tax payer money on failed green start ups. Also, Al Gore needs his cut.

      2. From the link:

        "In case anyone was doubtful, these orders to the EPA and USDA are further evidence of Trump's anti-science views. Gagging employees is a form of political pressure and a big step toward weakening the agencies, and is quickly taking us back to a time before the Obama administration, when the government actively tried to suppress research."

        I certainly disagree with the gag orders, but the straw-grasping here makes me think Tony wrote this.

        1. the verge is proggy/SJW horseshit last i checked.

          1. Yeah, and I don't think Tony's gig gets that sort of exposure. Pretty sure he's got something like editing the "Weekly Advertiser" in that gated community he claims to live in.

            1. I've never cared to try and figure out whether tony is a real person, or a manufactured personality/sock puppet....

              ...but if i recall, he claimed to be a gay guy who lived in a high-rise building in Tulsa Oklahoma.

              did he update that?

              1. I recall him admitting he doesn't like 'poor people' and claiming to live in a gated place as a result.
                But, prolly like you, it's not worth a minute of my time to go searching for it.

          2. The Verge is owned by Vox Media, so yeah.

    3. the media blackout story was in the PM links (both tonio and i linked to it)

    4. They asked their sources in the EPA about the media blackout, but got no answer. Now they're stumped.

  21. He's putting the kibosh on any leftover Obama propaganda until he can get his own propaganda machine working within the department.

  22. I can't believe ya'll ain't figur'd this out yet. Trump's increasing the power of the EPA by 900 THOUSAND PERCENT! He's signed a super duper secret decree to make the EPA the 4TH WING OF GOVERNMENT!

    So now there's going to be the Executive, the Judicial, the Legislative, and the THE HOLY TRIBUNAL OF CLIMATE CHANGE!

    The EPA's sweeping new powers will include executing DENIERS via murder drone without trial!

    You've been had, Trumputalstiltskinians! Closet Trumpelstien glibertarians on H&R hardest hit!

    1. Wait... are we all Tony now?

      1. *looks in mirror*
        *grabs bottle of drain-o*
        *thinks about it*

        1. Mom keeps the Dr?no in a locked cabinet out of reach.

  23. "If Trump tries to keep federal workers muzzled past a short transition period,"

    We saw this in Canada re Harper and 'muzzling' politicized science. It was glorious. One for shutting them up and two the reaction. As if science would cease and the world would turn black and the soot would inherit the earth.

    1. And now the technocrats are all bleating at our glorious PM Zoolander demanding the power to start advising "evidence-based" policy

  24. Walter Peck is shitting bricks.

    1. Really? He was active in 1984. He's retired and collecting a pension by now.

  25. Specifically, the Environmental Protection Agency has reportedly received memoranda from the White House ordering what has been described a "temporary media blackout."

    I know it won't happen, but in my mind, its because he's going to fire entire floors-full of EPA employees, and doesn't want anyone to hear the screams of terror.

    The reality of course is that it will take probably a year+ to fire a single person. But the process has to start somewhere.

    1. Remember how hard it was to get ride of Milton Waddams?

      I can just imagine an entire building of Milton's looking for their staplers.

      1. rid

      2. It is amazing - every large company has lots of dead weight; meanwhile my boss is riding my hump every single day. Some days I would take the basement office and no stapler just to be left the hell alone.

        1. Who is the CEO that fires the bottom 10% of his workforce every year? Apply that to govt and I'd be thrilled.

          1. Who is the CEO that fires the bottom 10% of his workforce every year?

            Not mine, that's for sure.

    2. "I know it won't happen, but in my mind, its because he's going to fire entire floors-full of EPA employees, and doesn't want anyone to hear the screams of terror."

      I'm hoping someone will be outside to record the 'death-dives' from windows on the ground floor.

    3. Why fire them? Move them as far north as possible so that they'll be sitting pretty once global warming kicks into high gear. Maybe an abandoned oil rig in the Article Circle? You know, to symbolize the triumph of eco-consciousness over the oil industry or whatever.

  26. I hope this lady becomes the DNC new chair.

    "It makes me sad that we're even having that conversation and that tells me that white leaders in our party have failed," she said. "I'm a white woman, I don't get it. ? My job is to listen and be a voice and shut other white people down when they want to interrupt."

    1. *probably already been posted, but WTF*

      1. Yes, but the naked racism on display never gets old.

    2. Lol. The people in the background clapping and nodding.

      Holy crap.

      That's what's in the DNC ranks?

      Worse than we thought, eh?

      1. I think it's actually even worse than that.

      2. No, exactly what we expected. The Democrats are leftists now. They fucking brag about it. Who the fuck brags about being a fucking dumbshit leftist? Insane people, lunatics, morons, losers. That's who.

    3. Yeah. Why are we losing? Dumbfucks.

      1. "Why are we losing?

        Here's a dose of boring for ya:
        "Garrison Keillor: Help us, GOP, you're our only hope"
        ""American carnage," my Aunt Sally: The correct term is "American capitalism."
        Jobs are lost to automation, innovation, obsolescence, the moving finger of fate. The carriage industry was devastated by the automobile, and the men who made surreys and broughams and hansoms had to learn something new; the Pullman porter union was hit hard by the advent of air travel, and the porters sent their sons to college; the newspaper business was hit hard by Craigslist. Too bad for us..."

        Yep, the world was a far better place when THIS TIRED PIECE OF SHIT DIDN'T HAVE A BROADCAST CONTRACT!

        1. I know gifted men who were successful graphic designers until computers came along and younger people with computer skills took their place and those gifted men had to do something else. T-shirts are made in Asian countries because Americans don't want to pay $20 for one. Coal yields to natural gas as renewable energy marches forward. Who doesn't get this? The idea that the government is obligated to create a good living for you is one the Republican Party has fought since Adam was in the third grade. It's the party of personal responsibility. But there he is, promising to make the bluebirds sing. As if.

          Well, he's not wrong. I like a great deal of what Trump's presidency promises, but his protectionist racket is not among them.

          1. Then Keillor goes on to talk about how many poor people will die after the mean vindictive Republicans repeal Obamacare.

            1. They'd be saying that if Republicans promised to salvage the ACA. They'd be saying that until the next Democrat took over and dismantled the GOP fixes that made it sorta workable. I doubt he means what he writes about protectionism, either, except that Trump seems to like the idea.

          2. "Well, he's not wrong."
            Agreed regarding protectionism, but Keillor is arguing out of both sides of his mouth.

        2. Republican, Democrat, libertarian, socialist, white supremacist or sebaceous cyst - everyone knows it.

          Hey Libertarians got included. And as a distinct category from sebaceous cysts.

    4. So, alienate what I hope is the majority of Americans who are repelled by open racism, regardless of who and whom. And then on top of that alienate the portion of the largest racial group that might tolerate racism, but doesn't want to be the whom. And that leaves you with...

      At this rate, all Trump has to do is cripple the urban vote-stealing machine and break the public sector unions, and the Democrats will be a third party in ten years. I mean, one of the Republican factions will basically step in and take over all their moderately shitty center-left ideas, but the party itself will be reduced to a regional anomaly, and will lose even that once their voters realize they have no voice in Washington without joining a major party.

      And that's the positive scenario. Because if they do somehow manage to recover power while running on an open platform of racial oppression against the majority, it will probably turn into a genuine hot civil war. These people make phrases like "white genocide" and "race traitor" seem less the watchwords of crypto-Nazis as actual sober points for discussion.

      1. In response to straffinrun|1.24.17 @ 9:27PM|#

        I mean, in solidarity with P Brooks. Yeah, that's the ticket.

    5. They are trying to figure out what went wrong in 2016 and out of the other side of their mouth telling white people to shut the fuck up. Seems like a winning strategy.

      The Dems have really gone bark at the moon crazy.

  27. "The Obama administration was, for the most part, able to keep unflattering leaks to a minimum largely because the bulk of the federal workforce was simpatico with its policies"

    Which is a problem in and of itself.

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