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“Openness” White House Dismisses Press Access Concerns

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed White House press corps concerns about the access of news photographers to President Obama, seeking to justify the use of official White House photographers to capture certain events instead.

With the press barred, Obama’s photographers release their idealized propaganda shots directly to the public, placing their work on the White House website and disseminating it through social media channels like Flickr and Instagram.

Earnest’s comments came in response to questions at Wednesday’s briefing about formal letter sent Wednesday by the White House Correspondents’ Association to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney protesting the limits and demanding a meeting with Carney.

The letter states:

Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties. As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government.

The restrictions imposed by the White House on photographers covering these events, followed by the routine release by the White House of photographs made by government employees of these same events, is an arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities. You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases.

Moreover, these restrictions raise constitutional concerns. As the Supreme Court has stated, the First Amendment protects “the public and the press from abridgment of their rights of access to information about the operation of their government,” Richmond Newspapers Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 584 (1980).

Among the events from which news photographers were barred were sessions Obama had with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, and Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Earnest tried to deflect the matter with a little false flattery, describing the protest as nothing more than the usual tension between the press and the White House.

But it is the responsibility of those of you who are sitting in those seats to push for more.  You’re supposed to be agitating for more access.  If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be doing your job.  So the fact that there is a little bit of a disagreement between the press corps and the White House Press Office about how much access the press corps should have to the President is built into the system.

But Major Garrett of CBS wasn’t having any of it:

That tension has long existed, you’re absolutely right. I know it.  I’ve experienced it under different administrations. What is different and what this letter goes to is events that we used to have access to before that we’re denied, and then the White House produces its own photography of that event in a way that seems completely designed to exclude independent eyeballs and only have the taxpayer-funded eyeballs of the person who works for the President of the United States.

Earnest sought to portray the White House propaganda effort as nothing less than a public service:

What we’ve done is we’ve taken advantage of new technology to give the American public even greater access to behind-the-scenes footage or photographs of the President doing his job.

So I understand why that is the source of some consternation to people in this room, but to the American public that’s a clear win.

And then he raised a red herring:

I think the best example of this would be in the Situation Room of the White House where, when the President is talking about classified issues, it’s just not feasible for us to have those discussions at —

Ed Henry of Fox News immediately recognized the tactic, interrupting, “That’s an outlier, Josh.”

The press, of course, is not seeking access to Obama’s secret deliberations. It merely wants the same access it has had under other administrations that didn’t purport to stand for “transparency.”

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23 Responses to “Openness” White House Dismisses Press Access Concerns

  1. We’re missing something here. No one is clamoring for more photos or video of MrObama doing anything, or even doing nothing. If anything, less of MrO is more than enough.

    IMO, this embargo of photos and video by independent journalists started when very unflattering shots of MrsObama kept showing up all over the place. Shots of her walking away from the camera that showcased her biggest asset, or the too tight slacks showing the outline of her thong were too much to bear.
    Anyone who thinks she doesn’t have a say or influence in the workings of the WhiteHouse are deluded by her faux “mom-in-chief” persona.
    Now, when independent entities are blocked from having access to WhiteHouse visitors or activities, they can blame it all on MrsO’s thong.

    • There were a lot of less-than-flattering pictures of Obama too. The bike ride, etc. No, they’re carefully craft the public image they allow to be photographed.

      I remember how weird it was that the press was allowed to film Obama and family as they passed by bike-riding on Martha’s VIneyard. Obama had about 50 feet where he had to insure he looked like a man on that thing. Not getting on the bike. Not starting out.

  2. This seems like the propaganda hijinks from countries like Iraq under Hussein and Venezuela under Chavez. The media sympathy under this admin is bad enough, but this seems far worse.
    How about a nice expose of pictues of Rev. Al and the rest of that gang coming out of the White House yesterday with attatched phrases from some of their more memorable contributions to society.

  3. The mistake the MSM is making with regards to this photo-op presidency is that they are not calling onto the carpet the WH press office for allowing unfettered access by the Hollywierd crowd to produce that puff piece movie about the killing of OBL. For the media to sit with their notebooks closed and their head buried while the left coast was granted unparallelled access to the situation room and classified documents is unconscionable.

    During the beginning of the Iraq War, the leftist media had a field day with 43 and his administration when a US soldier, during the tearing down of a statute of Saddam, placed a US flag over the face of the dictator. Old Glory was quickly replaced with an Iraqi flag, but all too many commentators intimated that this was a prime example of GW’s war of conquest vs. a war of liberation. The exuberance of our troops at being able to topple one of the most hated men in the world was made out to be an example of US imperialism. Yet, the capitalization of OBL’s death by Obama is seen as nothing more than a war president rightfully taking his place in history.

    If the media, Garrett, Henry, et al, are truly enraged by their being afforded less than second class status in the WH, then they have a responsibility, and a duty to make this an intensely public issue. Blast it from the headlines, ticker feeds, and make it a major story. Stop letting the WH write the news, and start reporting on how the WH is blocking the press’ access.

    Had 43 done half of any of this crap, there would already have been articles of impeachment filed.

  4. The “media” is NOW bitchin about how the Obama regime is ‘controlling access’…??? Thats Funny!!!
    Obama has been ‘controlling access’ since 2008 and the sycophants in the “media” gladly went along with it.
    Those of us who challenged the ‘image’ of Obama (background, qualifications, intelligence, political views, etc.) since day one have been/are still called “racists” etc.

    • “Can you smell the Soros money ?”

      Yep, from Center for American Progress and it’s media arm, ThinkProgress. I can’t find anything about his funding Talking Points Memo, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Josh Marshall or other reporters for TPM went on one of those Soros-paid sabaticals for journalists.

      • As I said yesterday, Senor Wms went–and said they were worried about people who could not afford the bronze plans–and might change those. Never heard more about that. Anyone? I did read this AM that insurance brokers can’t help anyone–the part on the site where they enter their number so they can get paid by the insurers is not there or not working or something. Another thing I don’t get is the riff about how the part where you pay is not built yet, according to some, but others say the insurers bill you and you pay them.

  5. snip …
    Josh Earnest defended the release of photos and videos, saying the practice helps Obama live up to his pledge of transparency …
    snip

    Wht???I don’t know how on earth anyone can call that being more transparent. That is a stretch even for this administration!! grrrr.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/11/21/209352/white-house-blocks-access-to-obama.html

    And did anyone ever really believe the great one regularly goes skeet shooting at Camp David? That is the prime example of this practice of staging photos.

  6. “Constitutional concerns”?

    What’s the constitution? I’ve gotta stop reading this stuff while I’m drinling coke….makes me spit it out through my nose!

  7. Liberals paint themselves as defenders of minority rights, unless the minority are conservatives. Then the self-proclaimed anti-war progressives have no problem dropping the nuclear option in the Senate, limiting access to the WH, manipulating statistics and when/how they’re released. Promises of a transparent administration are as transparent as the Iron Curtain.

  8. Barack Hussein Obama is the creation of state-run media. They built this tin pot dictator, and now they are crying about him kicking them to the curb. Cry me a river…