WIUM Tristates Public Radio

New State Tactic for Keeping Info Secret

Mar 3, 2015

The Baltimore Sun reported new Maryland Governor Larry Hogan's lawyer has urged agency heads and staff to stamp a claim of "executive privilege" -- the civilian equivalent of "top secret" -- on all their internal correspondence, emails and documents.

It’s ironic given that Hogan campaigned on a pledge of transparency.  He’s not alone – President Obama also promised to run an open government but instead many observers feel his administration has been one of the most secretive in recent history.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said the Hogan administration’s plan won’t stop reporters from getting the information they want though it might slow them down a bit and there might be a legal tussle over certain documents.

Rich Egger said it might encourage reporters to file for more documents, thinking the administration is trying to hide something.

He also suggested governments are becoming more combative with reporters as administrations try to control the message.

Rich Moreno concurred, and said it’s not limited to people already in office.  He said political campaigns have released fewer details and worked to control the message – and it’s worked for some candidates, including new Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. 

Moreno said the growth of “gotcha” journalism might make politicians more wary of reporters, and Crighton and Egger agree that type of reporting is contributing to the problem.