In the Obama administration — like the Bush administration — talking to the news media can be a firing offense. This helps neither journalism nor good government. The latest case is a top-level National Weather Service official who had the temerity to reveal that looming budget cuts would harm forecasting effectiveness (something that can affect public safety and the profits of business).
This despite President Obama's declarations of openness and the fact that it is illegal (message control and budget discipline — whichever party imposes them — seem to trump those considerations).
According to the Washington Post, the National Weather Service is firing William Proenza, who once headed the National Hurricane Center, for talking about budget shortfalls to the Post.
The Bush administration fired National Park Service police chief Teresa Chambers in 2004 for talking to the news media about her agency's budget; seven years later an appeals board ruled this illegal and reinstated her.
- "Weather Service Moves To Fire Official Who Criticized Budget Cuts in Post Interview," Washington Post, February 1, 2013, by Lisa Rein.
- Previous Story: "Chambers Reinstated; Talking to Reporters No Longer a Federal Firing Offense?" SEJ WatchDog of January 12, 2011.
This is one of the stories in the February 13, 2013 issue of SEJ's biweekly WatchDog. Find the rest of the stories and past issues here.