Just one week after telling White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer that the Obama administration was taking the same approach as the Nixon administration in how they were handling the various scandals they are dealing with, Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer called on the President to “rethink his entire communications policy.”
Schieffer also called on Obama to appoint someone other than Attorney General Eric Holder to head the investigation into Justice Department guidelines for leak investigations, and how they’ve been applied, since his department is so deeply involved.
People often ask me of all the administrations you’ve covered, which was the most secretive and manipulative? The Nixon Administration retired the trophy, of course. Since then my answer is whichever administration is currently in power.
Information management has become so sophisticated, every administration learns from the previous one. Each finds new ways to control the flow of information. It’s reached the point that if I want to interview anyone in the administration on camera—from the lowest-level worker to a White House official—I have to go through the White House Press Office. If their chosen spokesman turns out to have no direct connection to the story of the moment—as was the case when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to explain the Benghazi episode—then that’s what we, and you the taxpayer, get, and it usually isn’t much.
So I am glad the President has asked the attorney general to review whether his investigations into leaks is having a chilling effect on journalists. But it shouldn’t stop there. The President needs to rethink his entire communications policy top to bottom. It is hurting his credibility and shortchanging the public. And to head the review, how about someone other than the attorney general whose department is so deeply involved? That makes no sense to me.
Obama promised that his administration would be “the most transparent in history,” when he was elected in 2008. But as we have learned, especially with these latest scandals, it has been anything but. If he’s truly interested in saving what’s left of his presidency, he would do well to heed Schieffer’s advice.