President Trump ordered a communications lockdown at several federal agencies, including the EPA, USDA and Department of the Interior.
The new orders focus on restrictions for online communications and social media such as Twitter. Should this surprise anyone?
The last time America had an administration change in the White House, Twitter had something under 18 million active users when Barack Obama was sworn into office. Facebook had 150 million. Most Americans got their news from the nightly newscasts and cable outlets.
At the end of Q3/2016, Twitter had 317 million monthly active users, and Facebook had nearly 1.8 billion. Let’s agree that things are a little different in how Americans get their news today. In fact, the press and liberals have made a huge giant deal about how “fake news” percolates online. I never heard that as a problem in 2009.
The Washington Post wrung its hands of whether this constitutes censorship. They searched until they found some outrage (it probably wasn’t harder than searching speed dial).
Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement that the new restrictions were significant cause for concern.
“Vladimir Putin must be proud,” Cook said. “The EPA, like all federal agencies, is funded by taxpayer dollars, and Americans have the right to know what’s being done to protect or harm public health and the environment. Americans of all political stripes should be furious.”
No, I’m sorry. They shouldn’t be furious.
Every administration has the right and obligation to actively govern, which includes taking control of communications channels for the various federal agencies under its purview. Why should Trump, who relies heavily on social media, be treated differently?
WaPo acknowledged that even Obama “moved quickly to take control” of communications channels. They failed to acknowledge that Obama enjoyed a friendly, even fawning, press, the wet kiss of a giant honeymoon, and the admiration of the country (yes, even many conservatives) at having achieved election as the first black American president.
Many new administrations — including former president Barack Obama’s — have moved quickly to take control of the U.S. government’s public relations machinery and centralize decision-making upon taking office. But the sweeping nature of some of the new controls is unusual, and the fact that they come as departments have been communicating through an array of digital platforms has made the changes particularly visible.
This is not censorship. The Trump administration has the right and the obligation to get its departments and agencies, especially those which are run by interim acting chiefs, under control so tweets like the ones from the National Park Service don’t cause more confusion than already accompanies this major change in governing style.
Those in the main stream media are just mad because they wanted to exploit whatever mixed messages they could harvest online from agencies that are about to face tough questions as to their motives and policies. Now they’ll have to go back to the old fashioned way: relying on leaks and rumors.