Liza Mundy of The Washington Post, who just completed a biography of Michelle Obama, details the campaign’s stonewalling (over a book that, from what I have heard and seen, is generally positive):
Around the same time, I called a pastor on Chicago’s South Side who knew Michelle. “I was instructed by the campaign to let them know when you called me,” he said, explaining that he received an advance message asking him not to discuss Michelle with any book author because they were “not ready for people who knew Michelle to talk about her.”
Why should you care about one writer’s shaggy-dog story? In one sense, none of this is tragic; every reporter knows that being denied access to the usual contacts means you dig harder and turn up new voices. But you should care if you are expecting an Obama presidency to achieve new levels of transparency. Obama, if elected, may well bring many changes to Washington, but unusually open access to the media—and, by extension, the public—is not necessarily going to be one of them…
Campaigns are, of course, entitled to deny access to the principals; they do have to choose whom to favor. And I understand that the campaign in general and Michelle in particular have been buffeted by malicious rumors. But there is something, I don’t know, unsporting in the willingness to silence outside sources who are eager to talk. And something counterproductive, one would think, in a crouch this defensive: The people being discouraged were those most likely to say nice things. And in any case, here’s the bottom line: You don’t get to tell the Times how you are willing to walk anyone through your life if, in fact, you aren’t.