HHS Chipping Away at the First Amendment

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Don’t expect any information to come out of HHS that isn’t propagandized and approved by the Sebellius leadership. In the latest dictatorial attack on the First Amendment, the Obama administration is now intimidating its employees into saying nothing about anything that occurs at HHS. I wonder what they have to hide? Maybe it’s all the crazy rules they pass on a regular basis? So much for Obama’s transparency.

The HHS doesn’t want its employees to talk to the press unless they go through the supervisors though they use obfuscating language. Federal employees can speak to the press as long as they consult with supervisors and public affairs. Contractors, fellows and other non-federal employees cannot speak to the press. Letters to the editors must be cleared if they in any way reflect on the agency. Technical information is under the same restrictions. While emphasizing employee freedom to speak with reporters, the HHS guidelines make it clear that almost anything they say to a reporter will come under their oversight.

It wasn’t so long ago, that Cass Sunstein, in a NY Times interview, talked about spying on all public communications to correct the record so as to ensure the accurate release of information. Accurate information would be anything that agrees with his point of view.

Jim Dickinson of the FDA Review was none too happy. He said:  “The new formal HHS Guidelines on the Provision of Information to the News Media represent, to this 36-year veteran of reporting FDA news, a Soviet-style power-grab,” Dickinson wrote. “By requiring all HHS employees to arrange their information-sharing with news media through their agency press office, HHS has formalized a creeping information-control mechanism that informally began during the Clinton administration and was accelerated by the Bush and Obama administrations.”

“By taking control of who says what to whom and when, these new guidelines strike a heavy blow against the full, unfettered First Amendment rights of both HHS employees and the news media,” Dickinson continued. “They expand the comfort zones of the powerful.”

On the surface, this clampdown on speaking with journalists might not seem as bad as it is, but what HHS is doing is controlling all media so they can propagandize it. The guidelines are intimidating and send a clear message to not speak to the press while HHS pretends they approve of employees speaking to the press. Employees will be afraid to say anything without the government’s permission because anything could fit into the broad parameters set by the guidelines and they could then be used to fire them or worse. Read here: Clamping down on free speech.

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