UPDATE Jan. 30, 2017 10:10 a.m. PT– The White House this morning put its judicial links and pages back up. The resources page, which links to federal judiciary news and other sites, as noted below, is still down. We await comment. -Ed.
aNewDomain — Executive, legislative and judicial. Most Americans have no trouble naming the three branches of government. Even elementary school kids know that the founding fathers set them up to check and balance each other, preventing any one of them from getting too powerful.
All three still exist 240 years later. You wouldn’t think so looking at the WhiteHouse.gov site, though.
The Trump administration’s version of the U.S. government portal now mentions only the executive and legislative branches. There’s no mention of the judicial branch, and all links, mentions and pages relating to it are missing, too.
Archival material indicates the judicial pages were wiped on inauguration day, the same day pages dedicated to LGBT concerns, climate change and healthcare went missing.
The missing judicial pages from the site went largely unnoticed until this last weekend. That’s when Americans started looking for federal court updates on rulings that stayed Trump’s immigration ban and turned up nothing.
We took a closer look.
White House spokesperson Hope Hicks told reporters on Jan. 20 that missing pages and other issues “were to be expected,” considering the enormity of what she called a “website transfer” between administration.
Maybe she doesn’t understand tech and was winging that answer. Because that excuse doesn’t make much sense.
This is 2017, not 1997, after all. Porting a site is an automated process that wouldn’t, for example, remove pages from a site and then precisely delete links to it from a homepage or elsewhere. It’s not as if someone had to retype all that HTML — or all the pages and menus.
Here’s what the page looks like now:
Also missing from the homepage: The Resources page, which contained links to such separate US government pages for the Supreme Court, the CIA fact book, the presidential library and, yes, the federal judiciary system. Here’s what it looked like before Jan. 20, 2017.
When asked about the missing pages for healthcare and climate change on Jan. 20, Hicks told reporters this:
“Similar to the Clinton and Bush White House websites, President Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov will be preserved on the web and frozen after January 20th and made available at ObamaWhiteHouse.gov … the incoming White House will receive the WhiteHouse.gov domain and all content that has been posted to WhiteHouse.gov during the Obama administration will be archived with NARA.”
It’s true all the missing pages can still be found on the National Archives’ backup of the site as it looked under U.S. Pres. Barack Obama.
White House’s climate change page, previously located at whitehouse.gov/energy/climate-change is now available only as an archived Obama page here.Its former LGBT section, which was at whitehouse.gov/lgbt, is now here. And the former health care section, previously at whitehouse.gov/the-record/health-care, can now only be found here.
But please. Unless they are historians or teachers, few people hunting for information are going to type in a URL for a frozen archive. It might turn up in searches, but, as fewer and fewer people find the archive and time goes on, its SEO value will tank. Finding it on Google will soon be tougher, too.
We eagerly await comment from the White House.
Until we get answers, answers that make sense given the way website moves work in 2017 (not 1997) we are left to just ponder the strangeness of it all.
If your kids ever doubt that there are in fact three branches of government, tell them about alternative facts. And tell them this story …
Because once upon a time there was a great nation. The men who created it wanted to … and so they set up three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial …
There’s no evidence of it, though.