Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Radio Skit: “The Department of Homeland Security Press Room”

The radio skit above was, as they say in the movies, “Inspired by actual events.”  Which is to say, there’s quite a bit of truth to it, but take it with a grain of salt.   The dialogue is made up, but the outcome of the Department of Homeland Security's reporter-stiffarming tactics is exactly as described.

I'm now resorting to a new strategy in trying to pry some information on the current immigration crisis out of DHS for Powertalk 1210 listeners.  More after the jump (click the "continue reading" button.)

One thing I learned during my 33 years in the trenches of TV news warfare is that knowledge is power, and many if not most government bureaucrats are eager to share neither.   So having to do battle with officials who’d prefer to keep the public’s business from the public is nothing new for me and other journalists like me.

Even by those standards, though, the Department of Homeland Security has taken the stymie-the-reporter game to a whole new level.  When I decided to try my hand at prying loose information about the current immigration crisis, I encountered something I’d never seen before.  DHS required me to file paperwork, in the form of an email, for the purpose of getting a phone call.  As I wrote about previously, it’s a stroke of pure genius, since it’s ten times easier, and so much less directly rude, to blow off an email than it is to shut down a reporter who’s already on the phone.  And that’s precisely what happened to me when I attempted to go through such a system.   But it was fun trying, and it gave me something to blog about and talk about on the radio, which I then proceeded to do.  I even put together a little on-air skit about the whole thing, which was only about half a notch removed from the reality of the situation.   After all, if you can’t poke fun at bureaucrats, what good are they?  The skit is presented above for your listening pleasure.

Meanwhile, I’ve filed various Freedom of Information Act requests to try to get the information I’m seeking that way.  Stay tuned.

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