Journalist files FOIA for 'Thrones' episodes

Posted at 6:49 PM, Apr 18, 2016

Fans of HBO’s smash hit show Game of Thrones only have to wait less than a week for the series’ sixth season to begin on Sunday. But that apparently wasn’t long enough for one superfan — the Commander-in-Chief.

Showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff admitted last week at the show’s premiere event that President Obama had received an advanced copy of show’s new episodes.

"He's the leader of the free world," Weiss said.

"When the commander-in-chief says, ‘I want to see advanced episodes,’ what are you gonna do?" Benioff added.

What’s even more significant about the announcement is that Obama is currently the only person outside of HBO that has a copy of the episodes. While most shows provide advanced copies to critics and other journalists, the premium cable service has been extremely secretive about the upcoming season.

That didn’t sit well with Vanessa Golembewski, so she did any good journalist would do and filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

FOIA requests are typically used by watchdog journalists to request public documents to get their hands on public documents, by Golembewski figured it was worth a shot to see if she could cop a copy of the new episodes.

“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,” she wrote at Refinery 29.

When she got to the section regarding processing fees, she requested a waiver, citing the fact that she already had outstanding student loans.

“If you type my name into your system you’ll see I owe you guys so much money already for student loans. If you insist I pay something, you can always just put it on my tab,” she wrote under the “Request a Fee Waiver” section.





As of Friday, Golembewski’s request had been received by the Department of Justice but she had not received any further updates.

She may not want to hold her breath. By law, agencies must respond within a reasonable amount of time, but a video on the FOIA website says that the agency is often able to respond to simple requests within “about a month”— so it’s unlikely that Golembewski will receive the files before Sunday’s season premiere.

But hey, miracles can happen, right?

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.