We here at TPM get hundreds of emails each day, ranging from reader emails to press releases. And it took me a while to notice that on October 10th of last year, the Justice Department stopped sending us their releases. We had been on their list for well more than a year.
Now, my immediate impulse was not to expect the worst. But suspicion is natural to a muckraker. Last spring and summer, we published countless posts related to malfeasance at the Department (actually, I count 682 posts under our U.S. Attorneys tag), coverage which several mainstream outlets have acknowledged. Not only that, but I had done a story enumerating the false statements that Brian Roehrkasse, the Department's Director of Public Affairs, had made in the course of the U.S. attorney scandal. (Bud Cummins, one of the fired U.S. attorneys, subsequently published his own piece calling Roehrkasse a "willing liar.") Perhaps someone had derived a certain petty satisfaction by knocking us off the list.
So, because of that suspicion, and knowing the difficulty of extracting a response from the Department, I asked one of our TPM research hounds, Andrew Berger, to call their Office of Public Affairs every day until we got back on their distribution list -- or until we got an explanation. He started his mission last Monday. Finally, today, we got our answer, one that will strike TPMm readers as vintage Bush DoJ. They just don't have room for our email address on the distribution list:
I appreciated your desire to be in tune with DOJ press releases, however, unfortunately I am not able to add you to our distribution list. As you may realize we have a lot of requests to be put on our media lists and we simply are not able to put everyone on the list. We do however have all our press releases on our website and update them the minute they are released so I would suggest looking there. You can also always call us with press inquiries. Thanks again for your interest.
Office of Public Affairs
Department of Justice
For the record, this is the first time that any Congressional office or government agency has told us this.
We've since asked Ms. Hais for an explanation of the Department's criteria for inclusion. And we'll keep calling.