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Earnest: The Press Is the 'Only Constituency' That Cares About Government Transparency

He said the general electorate "are considering a range of other factors."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest briefs reporters during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. Earnest started his briefing with a question on Syria. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest suggested Monday that the only people who care about transparency in the government are members of the press, not every day Americans.

At the end of August, Earnest penned a letter to the editor at The New York Times, in which he asserted President Barack Obama's administration has been "the most transparent White House in history." The letter was in response to a Times column slamming the White House for its "abysmal record on fulfilling Freedom of Information Act requests and its record of prosecuting whistle-blowers who have shared national security information with the press."

Asked to follow up on the letter during a press conference Monday, the White House spokesman indicated — in his view, at least — that it is only members of the media who care about governmental transparency.

"The only real constituency for transparency in government is all of you," Earnest said. "And, good thing! That's an important role that all of y'all play in our democracy."

He went on to say the general electorate "are considering a range of other factors" when they vote. Therefore, Earnest said, it rests on journalists to be the ones who press for transparency.

"We would never expect for anybody who is sitting in those chairs to say that we've done enough," Earnest told the reporters gathered in the White House press room. "It's your responsibility to constantly push for more, and all of you have lived up faithfully to that responsibility, so thank you."

A handful of journalists took to Twitter to push back against Earnest's suggestion.

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