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Key Press Offices Still Not Staffed

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting says that the Trump administration has not filled key staff positions in public affairs offices, newsrooms, and media offices of many government departments and agencies. This is consistent with the administration’s well reported "glacial pace" in filling 2,000 mid-level political-appointee positions in the Executive branch.

[R]eporters in both Washington bureaus and in newsrooms around the country depend on [these offices] to get routine information about what these departments and agencies are doing, or, in the case of more investigative assignments, to ask basic questions and set up interviews with key personnel.

Some departments, like Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, have well-staffed press offices listed on their websites, making access easier, but others, like Agriculture and Interior, do not. (Interior got a special thumbs down.)

The article speculates that this inactivity may be part of "a Trump war against the … media. The unprecedented barring of major news organizations at White House press briefings, the barring of press from what are nevertheless called media events, the barring of the press from the secretary of State’s plane on international trips, and the president’s reference to the media as an ‘enemy of the people’ certainly suggest that it also may be a case of being in no hurry to open up government to inspection."

Examples from the article:

  • No press officer at EPA and no response to questions from "a receptionist" who took questions.
  • The phone at the public information at the Interior Dept. is answered by a recording, not a person. You can leave a message.
  • The Interior Dept. website lists no press office; press releases provide no contact person.
  • The Commerce Department’s website still lists the offices of director of public affairs and press secretary as "vacant."

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