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Tag Archives: Obama India trip

Video: Gibbs Goes to Bat for U.S. Press in India

Here’s footage of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs trying to make sure the U.S. press pool gets in to see Obama and the Indian PM. I do dig the absurdly obsequious Indian security dude, trying to suppress the urge to take out his Kalashnikov and obliterate the American reporting contingent.

Indian security had tried to limit the number of U.S. reporters allowed into the event to five instead of eight. So Gibbs threatened to pull the president out of the meeting and literally put his foot in the door to stop the Indians from closing it on the Americans, though this is not shown in the video.

Obama Schedule – India to Indonesia || Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From the White House:

In the morning, the President and the First Lady will travel to Jakarta, Indonesia. The departure from Palam Air Force Base in New Delhi, India and the arrival at Halim International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia are open press.

In the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will participate in an arrival ceremony at Istana Merdeka. There will be travel pool coverage. The President will then hold a bilateral meeting with President Yudhoyono at Istana Merdeka. The President and President Yudhoyono will then hold an expanded bilateral meeting. There will be travel pool sprays at the top of these meetings.

Later, the President and President Yudhoyono will hold a joint press conference at Istana Merdeka. The press conference is open press.

In the evening, the President and the First Lady will attend a state dinner at Istana Negara. There will be travel pool coverage.

Gibbs to the Rescue in India

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was forced to intervene as Indian security officials – for at least the second time this trip – sought to limit U.S. participation in coverage of an event with President Obama.

Gibbs’ heroic effort for the U.S. team included both physical intervention and an unprecedented threat to remove Obama from his meeting with the Indian prime minister. From the U.S. press pool report.

Indian officials decided to cut agreed-upon number of WH pool allowed into spray of extended bilat (bilateral meeting) from eight to five. Katie Lillie and other U.S. officials lobbied hard for the eight, but no luck until Gibbbs announced loudly and persistantly on steps of Hyderabad House that he would pull POTUS of bilat with PM Singh unless “the White House 8,” as we’ve come to be known, were all allowed in. At one point, Gibbs literally had his foot lodged in the closing front door, asking if the Indian security officials pushing hard to shut it were going to break his foot. More angry words ensued, and after Gibbs convinced them, through high volume and repetition, that he was serious about pulling POTUS, we all made it inside, to hold with larger Indian press contingent, for start of extended bilat.

It’s  worth noting that when they are at the White House, the Indian press is easily the pushiest and most resistant to rules of decorum of any of the foreign press corps. Part of me takes offense to see them baying at the U.S. president, while the other part admires the free speech impulse to ignore protocols, which the U.S. press corps sometimes takes too seriously.

The Obama India Trip’s Bad Optics

The White House is incurring volumes of flack for the cost of Obama’s sojourn to India, rumored to be $200 million a day. The White House says the estimate is wildly inflated, and they’re probably right, since I understand the original report came came from some Indian website nobody here has ever heard of. But the White House also won’t say how much the trip costs.

Nevertheless, the Obama’s bought the bad PR – even if apocryphal – with their own exhorbitance, starting with their “date” that took them from Washington to New York City in 2009 for dinner and a show and extending to Mrs. Obama’s Spanish Riviera fantasy indulgence this summer.

One of our readers, Granny Jan, who blogs at Granny Jan and Jihad Kitty, has created a book cover to commemorate the latest excursion.