SEJ Urges White House To Lose the "Minders"

February 24, 2010

The Society of Environmental Journalists has urged the Obama administration to end the practice of requiring permission from the press office at federal agencies before reporters can talk to federal employees — and requiring Saddam-style PIO "minders" to sit in on interviews.

SEJ wrote White House Communication Director Dan Pfeiffer on the matter February 24, 2010 — joining over a dozen other journalism groups who have complained about the practice to the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies. SEJ takes positions on freedom-of-information issues, working through its Freedom of Information Task Force.

During the Bush administration, the White House and agencies used these practices to suppress science that did not conform to their policies.

"Science quickly loses its credibility when it is moderated by political and policy appointees," SEJ wrote, "and that, in our experience, has been standard procedure at a growing number of federal agencies in recent years. These practices hinder reporters' ability to learn the truth by inhibiting and sometimes barring employees from providing essential information."