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Open Is As Open Does

The Obama transition team talked a lot Tuesday about the openness and transparency of the agency-vetting process about to get underway.

Co-chairman John Podesta went out of his way to make that point, saying that the names and bios of the review teams for agencies and commissions, like, say the FCC, will be posted by week’s end on President-elect Obama’s Web site.

He also said all money for the transition would come from individuals, not corporations or lobbyists, and that all that would be disclosed as well.

Sounds great, but for the press conference announcing all this openness, TV and still cameras were not permitted and teleconference participants were in listen-only mode. The reason given was space, and I supposed in terms of the call-ins, time. Since I called in and didn’t see the size of the room , I will have to take their word for the space constraints.

But broadcast journalists are famliar with the intrusiveness arguments for not allowing their tools into various venues. It seems to me that, given the size of the cameras these days, allowing a pool feed would have been possible without endangering anyone’s toes or anything else, and would have said spoken volumes about the kind of openness journalists are particularly concerned about.

That said, Senator Obama has been a strong supporter of open government rules and backed a federal shield law. In addition, his transition team press office gets high marks for responsiveness.

So, we will reserve judgment, but hope not to see many more of those "No TV allowed" e-mails.

PS: We hope this is not a trend. CNN just reported that former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has exluded TV cameras from his first public speech since admitting an affair.