Some of President Barack Obama's political appointees, including the secretary for Health and Human Services, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.
The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees' email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.
The AP asked for the addresses following last year's disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged — but often happens anyway — due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.
As the AP goes on to explain, the secret email accounts complicate government agencies' legal responsibility to turn over records in the event of congressional investigations, lawsuits, FOIA requests and the like. Basically if they can't find the emails, they can't turn them over, something that intentional or not gives anyone using the "secret" email addresses some cover in the event someone goes digging. It's certainly an important point worth making—especially given how much governmental business happens over email—but it's a relatively inside-baseball topic that's hard to get too excited about if you're not a member of the press.
On a normal day, in a normal news cycle, the story is one that would likely get lost in the shuffle. In reality, it still might. A quick morning scan of the homepages of major newspapers and news networks turns up only an occasional reference to the story, with the Washington Post giving it some of the most play with a below-the-digital-fold headline, "AP: Some Obama appointees use non-public e-mail accounts." Not exactly click-bait. While conservatives may see the news judgment as a sign of a liberal conspiracy, the reality is more likely one involving simple traffic metrics. (As outraged as many in the press were about the DoJ seizing AP phone records, that story never had the draw for the average reader like Benghazi or the IRS controversy did).
Still, there are a two noteworthy exceptions that probably won't come as a surprise given the target of the story (the White House), if not the subject (press freedom). Drudge banner:
And Fox News's above-the-fold feature:
You can go check out the full AP story here, which, again, is worth reading no matter how you arrive at it. (Also, I realize that Drudge is neither a major newspaper nor TV network, but given the size of its audience and reach, it's nearly impossible not to consider major.)