Let Me Be Candid (Or Perhaps Not...)

Outgoing General Services Administration head Lurita Doan
Embattled head of the General Services Administration, Lurita Doan, is shown the door.
CBS

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.


I saw a story in the Washington Post the other day in which a reporter granted a government official anonymity in order, as the newspaper put it, for the government official to speak more candidly.

Well, that made me wonder.

Do we no longer expect government officials to tell the whole story if they must take responsibility for what they say?

Even worse, do we believe that is acceptable?

For sure, the White House won no prize for candor last week. It gave the outgoing head of the General Services Administration, Lurita Doan, a big send-off by thanking her for making government buildings more energy efficient or some such, when in truth she was forced out.

She was the object of multiple investigations - suspicious dealings on government contracts, and asking government employees what they could do to help political candidates, which is of course against the law.

Even the government's watch-dog agency recommended she be disciplined to the fullest extent.

Yet, the White House spokesman declined to say if her resignation had anything to do with any of that. From the White House came only thanks and confirmation she was gone.

The government saw no obligation to say why.

Which leads me to this: Have decades of secrecy, spin and stonewalling conditioned us to accept less than the whole story from the government? Is telling the whole truth no longer a given?

Frankly, I'm not sure. What I do know is that more and more people seem skeptical of everything the government says and does. What we saw last week may be one reason why.


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By Bob Schieffer
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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.