By Justin Sink
The White House on Friday pushed back on complaints about transparency from The New York Times and NBC News, calling complaints over leak investigations and narrowing access unfair.
In an interview with Al Jazeera America, New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson said the current administration was the "most secretive White House" she's covered through her career.
"I would say it is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and that includes — I spent 22 years of my career in Washington and covered presidents from President Reagan on up through now, and I was Washington bureau chief of the Times during George W. Bush's first term," Abramson said.
"I dealt directly with the Bush White House when they had concerns that stories we were about to run put the national security under threat. But, you know, they were not pursuing criminal leak investigations," she continued. "The Obama administration has had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history. It's on a scale never seen before. This is the most secretive White House that, at least as a journalist, I have ever dealt with."
But White House press secretary Jay Carney said that many of those leak investigations started under the Bush administration.
"I would have been fascinated to see the stories, had this administration chosen to drop investigations started by the previous administration," Carney said.
He also said that during his time in the administration, journalists from the paper had thanked him for increased access to national security staffers.
"So you know, you guys are the experts; you know and can measure whether or not we provide as much or more access as previous administrations," Carney told reporters.
NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd on Friday called the White House "very controlling" during an appearance on "Morning Joe."
And "Meet the Press" host David Gregory said the administration had been "consistent" about conflicts over leaks.
Carney said the Justice Department had taken steps to ensure "reporters ought not to be accused of a crime for doing their jobs."
He also said members of the White House press office "work every day … to provide as much access as possible when it comes to access to the president" and said the number of interviews President Obama has given "far exceeds those of his immediate two predecessors."
"What I have no doubt about is that we don't provide as much as you'd like," Carney added. "And if I ever heard reporters in front of me tell me that, you know, they had enough information, I'd call up their editors and say you all should be fired. I mean, that's not how this works."