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Report: Trump Admin. Orders Media Blackout for Federal Agencies

Image: Report: Trump Admin. Orders Media Blackout for Federal Agencies

President Donald Trump (AP Photo)

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Jan 2017 09:38 PM

The Trump administration has reportedly ordered a media blackout at several federal agencies, cracking down on staffers' ability to issue news releases, tweet, or otherwise communicate with the public.

The limits appear to target agencies overseeing environmental and scientific policy, sparking criticism the hammer is coming down on information regarding climate change, the Washington Post reported.

The new polices are in place at the Environmental Protection Agency, Agriculture and Interior departments, the Post reported. Politico reported limits are imposed at "varying degrees" also at Transportation and Health and Human Services.

"From what we can tell, the cloud of Mordor is descending across the federal service," Jeff Ruch, executive director of the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, told Politico.

The EPA pushed back, calling the restrictions "a short pause."

"The EPA fully intends to continue to provide information to the public," the agency said in a statement, the Post reported. "A fresh look at public affairs and communications processes is common practice for any new administration, and a short pause in activities allows for this assessment."

Inside the agency, there's a different view, Politico reported.

"It's a dark time right now," Liz Purchia, who headed EPA's public affairs office during the Obama administration, told Politico.

"People are nervous and they are scared about what they can and can't do. They don't want to get in trouble and they want to do the right thing."

"It's ironic that Trump based his entire campaign on Twitter and social media and now he's preventing the staff that work for him from communicating with the public," she added.

Health and Human Services denied it was under a blackout, the Post reported.

At the Interior Department, some issues appear to be off limits under the new administration. For example, the Post reported, Badlands National Park tweeted several times about the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the implications of climate change. By Tuesday evening, those tweets were deleted, the Post reported.

Politico reported staffers at USDA's Agriculture Research Service got a memo Monday telling them the release of documents, including "but not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content," would be held until further notice.

Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Post both EPA and Agriculture have scientific integrity policies that "among other things, protect scientists' right to speak out about their work. The American people deserve to know the results of taxpayer-funded research."

During a briefing with reporters Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he was still looking into the agency restrictions, but added, "I don't think there's any surprise that when there's an administration turnover, we're going to review the policies."

The crackdown comes in the wake of an Interior Department-ordered shutdown of its Twitter accounts after the National Park Service retweeted photos showing a substantially smaller crowd at Trump's swearing-in than had greeted President Barack Obama in 2009.

Interior's Twitter service was restored the next day – after the photo tweets were deleted and apology issued, Politico reported.

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The Trump administration has reportedly ordered a media blackout at several federal agencies, cracking down on staffers' ability to issue news releases, tweet or otherwise communicate with the public.
administration, media, blackout, federal, agencies
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2017-38-24
Tuesday, 24 Jan 2017 09:38 PM
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