By the time a reporter battles his way through a thicket of Freedom of Information Act requests, the news he’s seeking is often old news. Which is why sources within government agencies are so important to reporters.
But since the Clinton administration, the US government has been tightening up on the ability of reporters to talk to government employees without express permission. Yes, Bush was guilty of this too and it’s continuing apace during the Obama administration. From Poynter.org:
The Department of Health and Human Services’ just-released media policy makes it official that staff members and reporters are forbidden to speak to each other without reporting to public information officers and supervisors. The rules have “formalized a creeping information-control mechanism that informally began during the Clinton Administration and was accelerated by the Bush and Obama administrations,” writes FDA Webview & FDA Review editor Jim Dickinson. “The U.S. now takes a large step toward joining other information-controlling countries like my native Australia, where government employees who talk with the news media without permission commit a federal crime. I came to the U.S. in 1974 to escape this oppression.”
Read more here.