Can The Secret Of Jon Snow Withstand A Freedom Of Information Act Request?
President Obama’s exclusive knowledge of Game of Thrones’ next season gets challenged
What really happened to Jon Snow? Will Arya get her eyes back? What the hell is Bran doing?!
All these questions and more will be answered in the sixth season of Game of Thrones (or at least we hope they will), but no one — not even TV writers — will get closer to answers until the show returns on April 24th. No one, that is, except the President of the United States. And one Refinery 29 journalist isn’t having it!
In the good old days, the entertainment journalism elite got advance screeners of GoT for reviewing purposes, but as HBO’s head of programming made clear at the beginning of March, the network is not taking any chances when it comes to protecting the secrets of season six. “We’re not sending out press copies this year, anywhere in the world,” Michael Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly. “There will be no copies for review.” That’s a hard and fast policy. No DVDs. No electronic downloads. No password-locked streaming options. Unless, of course, your name is Barack Obama. The Commander in Chief requested early access to the episodes and HBO acquiesced, and now Vanessa Golembewski has filed a Freedom of Information Act Request to get her hands on the protected media.
As Golembewski says in her request, “If the president — and by extension, our government — is in possession of a file, surely that file is subject to my request to see it as a U.S. citizen." And she’s not without a case, because according to the FOIA website, “Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.”
You can find some very detailed information on what comprises those nine exemptions here, but the summary is this: Asking Obama to share his Game of Thrones episodes doesn’t seem to meet any of them! It doesn’t affect someone’s personal privacy, national security or law enforcement practices, and it doesn’t disclose any information about oil wells (the very specific ninth exemption). So, unless you’re afraid the internal operations of a government body will be exposed by the HBO hit series, it looks like you might want to fork over those episodes to Vanessa Golembewski, Mr. President. Because that is how democracy works.
The dead might be coming… but so is this Freedom of Information Act Request.