It is being said in rumor and reported by some news outlets (both those who lean right and those who lean left) that the Trump administration removed pages from the White House website. Depending on the outlet and it’s readership, it may have been about removing disabilities, LGBTQ pages, climate change, or another thing entirely. This has caused a great deal of concern for some, and had me cussed out on more than one occasion. Because I believe that we need to be factual, here is what has occurred.
In October of last year, the plan was announced that the Obama administration would archive the website as a part of the digital record of the presidency. This is dated October 31, 2016. This is the first announcement that I was able to find. That means that it was not quick, it had been in the planning stages for several months. It also means it was a decision of the Obama administration, and one that I am thankful for. This administration has been the most active digitally, and I think that preserving that history is of vital importance. Can we please stop with the rumor that this was a Trump thing now please? It wasn’t. Not everything is a Trump plot to ruin the country, I promise. It is common for emails, hand written notes, documents, etc. to be archived as an administration is coming to it’s close. For an administration that made more use of digital platforms than any other, another thing I am grateful for, it only makes sense to archive that as well. To quote the above link “The President has made clear that a smooth transition between administrations is one of his top priorities, and digital is a key component of that effort. While much of the digital transition is unprecedented in the United States, the peaceful transition of power is not. There are some important principles we can work from. Accordingly, we have been working to ensure that our digital transition meets three key goals. First, we are preserving the material we’ve created with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). From tweets to snaps, all of the material we’ve published online will be preserved with NARA just as previous administrations have done with records ranging from handwritten notes to faxes to emails.”
This is also nothing terribly new all in all. From the above link again: “Similar to the Clinton and Bush White House websites, President Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov will be preserved on the web and frozen after January 20th and made available at ObamaWhiteHouse.gov. The incoming White House will receive the WhiteHouse.gov domain and all content that has been posted to WhiteHouse.gov during the Obama administration will be archived with NARA.” This has become a part of the normal transfer of power. It will take some time for the Trump administration, or any administration, to populate the website. It will happen I am sure. It’s content will be different because the president is new. Somethings you might want to see may not be there. All of that though is in the future and largely speculation. What we know is that this is a normal part of the transition in our current digital age.
All of this means that the information is also not new. For those who immediately jumped to a conclusion that Trump had done it were sadly mistaken, and no one bother to do much fact checking before complaining, or cheering, as the case may be. Not to terribly surprising in this day and age. It is possible, and even likely, that the release in October was missed or forgotten. Luckily the Obama administration had foreseen this possibility and provided another statement on January 17, 2017. Here again we find much of the same information informing those who might be concerned about what was going to transpire. We also find new information about how to access what is archived should you so choose, how to follow various people, what their new twitter handles will be, etc.
No this is not a Trump plot to ruin the country. It wasn’t a Trump plot in the first place. It wasn’t really even a plot. It was all well planed, normal, and a part of the peaceful transition that we rely upon. There will almost certainly be reasons to criticize Trump in the coming years, as there is with every president, but this is not one of them. What this is happens to be a trumped up (pardon the pun) non-story that a whole lot of people took on without looking for any explanation other than Trump is a bad guy. If we were all looking for the best in the man, as we should, and not looking for the worst, and really anything bad that we can latch onto and be outraged about, we wouldn’t have fallen prey to this non-story. I hope that in the future we will look for the best, and before railing against the worst, stop to find out if it is really something worth our criticisms.