Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Campaign for Openness

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Campaign for Openness

Article excerpt

Candidates are ignoring it, so newspapers must make open government a presidential campaign issue

U.S. Sen. Bob Graham folded his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination last week, ending his candidacy before most Americans even knew he was running. Graham was gone so fast that Leno and Letterman never got around to making TV sport of his odd habit of keeping a daily diary so meticulous that he records the exact times he starts and stops watching a video, and how long the tape takes to rewind.

Still, we cannot help but regret Graham's departure from the crowded field of presidential wannabes, because he was the only one with an unassailable record in favor of open government. As governor, Graham adhered so strictly to the letter and the spirit of Florida's Sunshine- in-Government Act that he even made his goofy diaries available for public inspection.

The present administration is the most secretive in recent history, yet day after day on the campaign trail this trait goes unchallenged by those who aspire to replace President Bush.

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark made a promising start when he declared in a Sept. 3 Chicago Tribune interview that "good government requires transparency." If he's mentioned the issue since formally announcing his candidacy, we've missed it. And besides, his own record on openness is hardly inspiring: As Thomas H. Lipscomb pointed out in a recent Chicago Sun-Times op-ed piece, when Clark was NATO commander during the Kosovo war, his "headquarters became an echo of the 'five o'clock follies' of press misinformation at Army headquarters in Saigon two decades earlier. …

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