Here’s the headline from today’s New York Times: “Federal Agencies Told to Halt External Communications.” President Trump, you’d be led to believe from this headline, has struck again, stamping his jackboots all over the dissemination of information from science-based executive agencies. Here’s the lead from the Times:
Scientists and environmentalists reacted with fear this week as the Trump administration purged nearly all mention of climate change programs from the White House and State Department websites and ordered a freeze on federal grant spending at the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies. Memos ordered employees of at least four agencies not to send out news releases or to create social media posts, blog entries or official website content, and to consult with senior officials before speaking to the news media.
Scary stuff, right? And the rest of the media reacted with fear, too. The Washington Post: “Federal agencies told to restrict their communications.” Tech Crunch: “Government agencies banned from tweeting under the Trump administration.” Fortune: “Trump Administration Puts Gag Order on Several Government Agencies.”
Except that if you read down to the fifth paragraph of The New York Times report, you find out that Trump hasn’t done anything unique here:
Longtime employees at three of the agencies — including some career environmental regulators who conceded that they remained worried about what President Trump might do on policy matters — said such orders were not much different from those delivered by the Obama administration as it shifted policies from the departing White House of George W. Bush. They called reactions to the agency memos overblown. On Wednesday, Douglas Ericksen, a spokesman for the E.P.A., said that grants had been only briefly frozen for review, and that they would be restarted by Friday. “I’ve lived through many transitions, and I don’t think this is a story,” said a senior E.P.A. career official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media on the matter. “I don’t think it’s fair to call it a gag order. This is standard practice. And the move with regard to the grants, when a new administration comes in, you run things by them before you update the website.”….It is standard practice for new administrations to make changes to their websites to reflect their different policy positions.
In other words, Trump’s controlling the executive branch the way everybody else does – the media just doesn’t appreciate his priorities. But instead of reporting that Trump’s stance on climate change doesn’t match their own, or instead of reporting that Trump is stacking his administration with people who don’t believe the leftist narrative on global population-threatening climate change, they report that Trump has cracked down on communications generally, taking control of heretofore free and easy sources of information.
This is fake news at its finest.