“Donald Trump may say a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean he’ll do all of them.”
For anyone who’s ever thought this way about Trump (yours truly included), Trump himself has just made a public rebuke of all of us.
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration last week, his administration has issued a gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Effectively, this prevents any EPA officials from posting updates on social media and speaking to members of the press. According to the UK’s Independent, other agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture and the Health and Human Services, have been issued a similar order.
According to emails sent by the Trump administration to EPA staff, all incoming media requests would be “screened” by the administration, while press releases, blog updates, and posts to agency social media accounts have been banned.
Furthermore, the administration has ordered a “temporary suspension” of grants to the EPA, stopping all business activity. The action is expected to have an immediate impact on nationwide EPA projects.
This media blackout is a blatant attempt by the White House to control the flow of information while the Trump administration completes its ‘transition’ phase. For someone of a journalistic background like myself, this is both outrageous and ominous at once. Outrageous because, as a journalist, I have an instinctual distrust of secrecy; frankly I do not like anyone who tells half-truths or drags their foot on the truth. It is ominous because, as I have been aware for quite some time, telling lies or half-truths seems to be the norm now. It almost seems hypocritical of the press to scream injustice when they themselves have been unable or unwilling to criticize the Obama administration. I mean, aren’t there any few good men left?
It is also an ominous sign for US environmental groups and agencies: it’s no secret that Trump is no friend of environmentalism. Trump has promised to promote oil drilling and mining by cutting regulation, including scrapping former President Barack Obama’s initiative to combat climate change. Trump also has suggested pulling the United States out of a global pact on climate change signed by nearly 200 countries last year. And the senate has not officially confirmed Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, former Oklahoma attorney general and climate change denier who has repeatedly sued the EPA over its attempts to regulate pollution, and has called the agency “unlawful and overreaching,” which is probably why Trump wants to gag EPA employees.
This is not an endorsement of the Obama administration. In fact, I have as much distrust of Obama’s Democrats as I have of the GOP; in many cases more so. I honestly think that good people should not play this sick game of choosing the lesser of two evils; good people should refuse to play the game entirely.