More than two weeks ago, SFR filed a public records request with Gov. Bill Richardson's office with the purpose of investigating the extent to which Richardson has been involved in negotiations with North Korea regarding journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. The video journalists are imprisoned in North Korea and facing 12 years of hard labor on charges of illegal entry and unspecified "hostile acts."
The reason for the request: For all the speculation that Richardson might be tapped to negotiate their release, they could just be rumors or political exaggeration. Plus, after the NY Times' blackout of coverage of David Rohde's kidnapping, it's important for the press to watchdog itself.
In addition, SFR requested all documents and e-mails related to interviews with the national media on the issue. The reason: We wanted to ascertain to what extent taxpayer resources were used to facilitate media appearances on non-New Mexican issues.
The Governor's office flatly rejected the entire public records request. Here is the text of the text of the letter (and here's the pdf
Dear Mr. Maass:
I write in response to your Inspection of Public Records Request dated June 30, 2009. In that request, you asked for "all emails, letters and other correspondence regarding journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, including requests from national media to comment on the journalists."
We are unable to provide records to you at this time based on the countervailing public policy exception. The documents you requested to inspect are related to an on-going and very sensitive international matter. Disclosure at this time could possibly jeopardize continued diplomatic efforts to secure the safe release of the two journalists.
I understand the argument for confidentiality to ensure the journalists' safety--but will someone explain to me: a) Why is it OK for him to speculate about it publicly on Rachel Maddow if it's so sensitive? and b) Why is it crucial that his communication with the media remain confidential?