Why the White House's Secrecy Over Visitor Logs Isn't a Crisis

Had the Trump administration decided to voluntarily release them, officials still would have had free rein to conceal meetings they didn’t want the public to know about.

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Media Outlet: The Atlantic

Lee Drutman wrote for The Atlantic about the Trump administration's decision to stop releasing White House visitor logs to the public: 

Trump opponents and transparency advocates have nevertheless targeted the logs as an object of outrage. But should they be outraged? While the public should demand some degree of transparency from their government, the White House logs don’t necessarily provide all the information the public would want to know.

When it comes to political-transparency policies, there are always costs and benefits. These measures can give citizens valuable information and deter bad behavior, while also making it harder for officials to deliberate and make deals. They can additionally overwhelm the public with too much information and too little context—leading people to pay attention to relatively unimportant details while missing the bigger picture.

Author:

Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the program on political reform at New America. He is the author of The Business of America is Lobbying (Oxford University Press, 2015).