Charles Johnson discusses some of the history behind Montana's elected officials making public their daily appointment schedules, to the press and now to the public.
While transparency is a worthy goal, one wonders whether Johnson actually believes that Gov. Schweitzer isn't having highly newsworthy but private meetings or conversations with people who want to keep their business with him out of the public eye -- people with whom he will later have "private" meetings in public.
Just because the governor allows reporters to attend any meeting in his office that they want to attend doesn't mean that they are getting the private contents that they as reporters crave.
In fact, the case could be made that this policy can lull reporters into a false sense that they know what is "really" going on.
Undermanned news departments in Helena are already highly dependent on "he said/she said" sources of information -- getting one politician's statement and another's reaction or countering viewpoint.
During the last legislative session, we learned a lot of what individual legislative leaders and executive branch figures said the meaning of a particular piece of legislation was, but the media spent entirely too little time doing the work of talking to people who might be affected by a given proposed law.
Johnson softened the blow by highly praising the governor's open-meeting policy first before mentioning that he is the only "top tier" state-wide official who doesn't publish his daily schedule on the web.
He interestingly praises the bloggers who pressured Baucus and Rehberg (actually, the leftward bloggers pretty much only directed their indignant bile at Rehberg, and while they may have said a gentle word here or there, they mostly gave Baucus a pass.)
And now that Brad Johnson -- whom the lefty bloggers despise with a passion -- is publishing his schedule, there hasn't yet been a whisper of praise that we have noted coming from those same bloggers, for whom Tester's publication of a schedule took on a sort of Holy Grail quality.
So it is interesting that Johnson would mention those bloggers when their failure to praise Johnson or criticize the governor amounts to a rather deafening silence.
Johnson, to be sure, is interested in openness in general, both because he believes in it and because access to information is the stuff of which his job is made. But for a political reporter to fail to discuss is the partisan gamesmanship that has surrounded this issue seems a curious omission.