The Freedom of Information Act--disappointment and hope

Blanchard, Robert O.
September 1967
Columbia Journalism Review;Fall1967, Vol. 6 Issue 3, p16
This article highlights the mass media's stand on the so called Freedom of Information Act or the Federal Public Records Law signed into law by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966. Freedom of information crusaders hailed. Members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors received an analysis of the law in their "Bulletin" under the heading, "'Twas a Sparkling Fourth for FOI Crusaders." The report compared the President's bill-signing statement to libertarian statements of Patrick Henry and James Madison. The spirit of the occasion move "The Arizona Republic" to offer a rare interpretation of contemporary politics: in signing the bill President Johnson proved he is not one of those who believe in news management. President Johnson, in reality, did not quite live up to this triumphant moment. The President news-managed the release of this strong freedom-of-information statement, which was recalled from reporters minutes after distribution and replaced by a toned-down version. The later version appeared eleven months later as a guide to agencies in the Attorney General's memorandum on the law. There was further confusion when a second FOI law was quitely enacted in June 1967.


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