Friday, November 12, 2004

Making transparency your enemy

Never be arbitrary in your dealings with the public. A case study in the importance of maintaining transparency is now unfolding across lefty blogosphere.

Alabama Medicaid has notified the mother of a disabled child that her child’s case no longer meets the criteria for the program. According to WPMI News, no elaboration was made on why this child’s situation failed to meet the criteria.

By refusing to explain the decision to the child’s mother or WPMI, Dr. Mary McIntyre has focused attention on herself rather than the Medicaid program. One of the many reasons for transparency is that it focuses attention on the issue at hand rather than the personalities. So now Dr. McIntrye has been cast in the role of the heartless beauracrat by the local TV news.

But that is just the beginning of her problems. In a post dated 9:22 PM last night Atrios, the blogger who played such an important role in bringing down Trent Lott, promised his readers that they would take action the following morning. This morning he posted Dr. McIntyre’s office telephone number and email address, encouraging his readers to make inquiries. Bloggers Oliver Willis and Steve Gilliard have both taken up the cause. By now Dr. McIntyre’s phone is jumping off the hook with unpleasant inquiries and her in box is jammed with similar messages.

How could this have been avoided? Had she explained the basis of her decision, Dr. McIntyre would still be unpopular, but Medicaid would be focus of attention, rather than those who administer it.

Railing at irresponsible bloggers will do no good. Blogosphere, for better or worse, is not going anywhere. As I have written before, those who fail to make transparency their friend will find it a formidable enemy.

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