Did Trump Order a ‘Media Blackout’ at EPA?

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By on January 24, 2017 in Agency News with 0 Comments

Image of Donald Trump signing an executive order

Updated: 1/25/2017 5:52 PM EST

According to the Associated Press, Donald Trump has ordered a temporary “media blackout” at the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the AP, emails were sent to agency staff which ban EPA employees from sharing press releases, blog updates or posts to EPA’s social media accounts.

The EPA was also instructed not to award any new contracts or grants as part of the directive.

Fox News confirmed the reports in discussions with an EPA staffer.

As of the time of this writing, the last post on the EPA’s twitter account was dated January 19. The EPA blog’s latest post was dated January 19 also, and the most available agency press release on the EPA website was from January 20.

According to the AP report, the communications ban for the EPA is expected to be lifted by the end of this week.

The EPA said in a statement:

The EPA fully intends to continue to provide information to the public. A fresh look at public affairs and communications processes is common practice for any new Administration, and a short pause in activities allows for this assessment.

Other agencies were instructed to restrict their communications as well according to reports. Reuters reported that employees at the Department of Agriculture were informed that communications with the media should be reviewed and approved by the administration.

Update: White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday afternoon that no directives to silence communication from agencies came from the White House.

Spicer discussed some tweets that were sent out by the National Park Service that were deleted, but not after going viral. One reporter raised a question as to whether the White House was doing something to halt speech coming from agencies in response to the tweets.

“Nothing has come from the White House,” said Spicer. “I think in some cases, I know in the Park Service for example over the weekend, an unauthorized user had an old password in the San Francisco office who went in and started re-tweeting inappropriate things that were in violation of their policy. There are couple of these agencies that have had problems adhering to their own policies, and I would refer you back to them as to why those things are happening, but I know that they are taking steps in both of those two cases to address inappropriate use of social media.”

Spicer later added in response to another reporter’s question about the EPA being told to cease and desist posting to social media, “I need to make sure we are clear on this. They [federal agencies] haven’t been directed by us to do anything. From what I understand, they have been told within their agencies to adhere to their own policies, but that directive did not come from here [the White House],” said Spicer.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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