Full disclosure is no longer required
After Sen. Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack, he promised to release “comprehensive” medical records. But when he was recently asked on Meet the Press when the public would see those records, said John Harris, the 78-year-old Sanders said, in effect, “Go to hell.” Sanders’ response—once you release medical records, he said amid a cloud of obfuscation, “it never ends”—demonstrates how President Trump has transformed the relationship between the press and public officials. For decades, candidates have faced strong pressure to disclose information about their health, their tax returns, and even their personal behavior. Refusing to comply with this transparency norm “came with a high cost,” as major networks and newspapers would call out candidates for evasiveness. But in the Trump era, a “seismic shift” has occurred. Trump has gotten away with his refusal to release tax returns, respond to subpoenas, or answer reporters’ questions, and the news media has lost much of its power “to set the agenda and enforce minimum standards of public conduct.” If Sanders can get away with running for president without telling voters about the extent of his heart disease, he can thank the man in the Oval Office.