At the Toner Prize ceremony, which honors excellence in political reporting, on Monday night, President Obama “had harsh words for the state of journalism and how it has lapsed in its duties to hold public figures—specifically those vying for his current job—accountable,” wrote journalist Sara Morrison at The Guardian.

When Obama first ran for president in 2008, candidates couldn’t get away with flouting the truth, he said, but in the current election cycle, that’s no longer the case.

Robin Toner, an investigative journalist who died in 2008 and for whom the Toner prize was named, “demanded that we be accountable to the public for the things that we said and for the promises that we made,” Obama continued. “We should be held accountable.”

In her article, Morrison responded: “Allow me to do exactly that.”

On his first day on the job, way back in January 2009, Obama issued a memorandum declaring that his administration was “committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government … and establish a system of transparency”. This was one of his campaign promises. Seven years later, the president has fallen well short of this vow, and many journalists see his administration as the least transparent of all.

The Freedom of Information Act (Foia), signed into law in 1966, is meant to give citizens access to information about the government agencies their taxes support. Less than two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported that the Obama administration set a new record in the percentage of Foia requests answered with either redacted files or nothing at all: 77%. That’s up 12 points from the first year of Obama’s presidency.

This is an administration that prosecutes people for leaking information to the press that would hold it accountable, and which continually obfuscates journalists’ and citizens’ efforts to extract any information from it at all.

Continue reading here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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