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Journalists: White House defense of transparency record ‘typical spin’

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White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP)

The White House responded Monday to criticism from dozens of leading press organizations and transparency groups, saying it has improved access to public officials, whistleblower protections, and declassified documents.

White House press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a letter to the Society of Professional Journalists that the administration has “dedicated significant time and resources to upholding the President’s commitment to lead an open and responsive government.”

“And we’ve made important progress expanding access to the President and his aides, protecting whistleblowers, simplifying government websites, streamlining FOIA requests, and disclosing previously classified information,” Earnest wrote.

SPJ president David Cuillier called the White House letter “typical spin and response through non-response.”

“While we applaud efforts to people’s access to their government through websites and FOIA, nowhere does the White House address specific concerns about excessive message management and preventing journalists from getting information on behalf of citizens,” Cuillier said in a statement. “I’m hopeful the administration is sincere in its promise to increase openness and rectify the problems. But we want action. We are tired of words and evasion.”

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