Game of Thrones creators recently revealed that the president of United States gets advance copies for the show. The news caused quite a furore in the press as they were denied advance screeners for season 6 due to last year’s leak. Well, now a journalist has taken it a notch ahead. Vanessa Golembewski of Refinery29 has filed an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request asking Barack Obama to share his advance copies with the public. She writes:
“I decided this was a perfect opportunity to test the limits of the Freedom Of Information Act. 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.
I know it’s a stretch. Firstly, I’m not entirely sure where the Game of Thrones screeners fall in the grey area that is personal property of a government figure. Secondly, there’s a bunch of red tape around the kinds of things you can request in a FOIA. Okay, fine. There are just nine exemptions — and all of them seem like really fair calls. For example, it’s off limits if the information in question would threaten our national security. I felt confident that even with these rules, TV episodes were still fair game.
This was my first time filing a FOIA request and I wasn’t really prepared to explain myself on a government form. I went for the most direct approach. Under “Description,” I wrote: “I would like President Obama to share his advance screeners for Game of Thrones with the public.” Plus, the FOIA site mentioned that the simpler the request, the faster it would be to process.
I was surprised that this form also asked me how much I’d be willing to pay for this information. My editor said, “You can expense up to $10.” But then, I thought about how I already owe the government a shit ton of money in student loans. So, I wrote that I was willing to pay nothing, but that if they insist on charging me, they can effectively “put it on my tab.”
There was also a field that asked me if I’d like this request to be expedited. According to the guidelines, you should only select “yes” if it’s a timely, life-threatening matter. And while I am not in any physical danger myself, I thought about how Jon Snow’s life is very much in question and decided that was close enough.”
It seems highly unlikely that The White House will honor this request but it will be interesting to see their reply, if they do. Game of Thrones returns April 24 9 pm on HBO.