The White House has taken down the archive of its 1600 Daily newsletter without first informing the public, the Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Protect (WIP) says in a report issued on Tuesday. The quiet removal puts the White House in possible violation of the Paper Reduction Act, the Foundation charges.
The archive was eliminated last December during a redesign of the White House site: www.whitehouse.gov. The email newsletter continues to be sent daily, but the WIP writes that “No ‘1600 Daily’ archive is currently available on the ‘whitehouse.gov’ domain. URLs for past ‘1600 Daily’ posts currently lead to removed pages.”
This has led to questions about whether the takedown was deliberate or inadvertent.
“Without communicating clearly with the public, we’re left to guess exactly what the takedown means, if the removed content was targeted to achieve some undisclosed end, and which of its responsibilities the White House may have shirked,” writes Andrew Bergman in a Thursday blog on the Sunlight Foundation site.
Bergman adds, “As WIP has often noted, under the Paperwork Reduction Act and the White House’s own Office of Management and Budget guidance, the government is required to “provide adequate notice when initiating, substantially modifying, or terminating significant information dissemination products.”
In response to a query by WIP, Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters issued a statement saying “1600 Daily is an email newsletter, meant to be read in the Inbox.”
Walters adds: “It is optimized for mobile devices and for viewing across email service providers.”
Bergman reports that links to the Web version of the newsletter are frequently tweeted from @WhiteHouse. However, “links from previous tweets, for example, from August 22, 2018 or August 24, 2018 (both with over 1,800 retweets and over 7,000 likes), current lead to the most recent ‘1600 Daily’ post.”
Bergman notes that an “inadvertent removal would imply that the overhaul itself was done in a hasty or unsystematic manner, such that a key public-facing archive was not accounted for.”
The newsletter was launched by the Trump administration in March 2017. The first issue attacked the Affordable Care Act, and in general the e-letter promotes the Trump administration’s political agenda.
“Last year, the newsletter was the subject of a spate of media reports when it cited a satirical Washington Post article as an example of praise for its then-newly released budget,” Bergman writes.
The WIP also charges that there are “no archives of the current version of the WhiteHouse.gov website under President Donald Trump. Past administrations’ archives are stored on the National Archives and Records Administration website .”