A long-simmering feud is boiling again between the news media and the Obama administration, which has emerged as a closed administration.
Several news organizations sent a letter to the White House today protesting that with increasing frequency, the White House is refusing to let photographers take pictures of President Obama performing official duties.
Instead, it hands out pictures taken from White House photographers, like this Oct. 11 meeting with Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai.
“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 letter states.
“We aren’t asking to make pictures of the president putting on his socks in the private quarters every morning,” Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor and senior vice president, said. “We are asking simply to be allowed back into the room when he signs legislation, shakes hands with other leaders, and otherwise discharges his public duties.”
“What we have actually done is use a range of new technology to provide people greater access to the president,” a White House spokesman said. “To the American public, it’s a clear win.”
“”You guys are just like Tass,” New York Times photographer reportedly told White House press secretary Jay Carney, referring to the old Soviet Union’s state-sponsored information organ.
Writing in the National Journal, Ron Fournier said this White House-distributed photo of the president sitting in the Rosa Parks bus, is no different than “beefcake photos of Vladimir Putin.”
“Journalists understand that the president’s family and national security events must be off-limits at times,” Fournier writes. “Journalists also don’t object to the White House using social media; those are platforms as legitimate as televisions and print. The problem is that the Obama White House is simultaneously restricting access of independent media while flooding the public with state-run media.
“Again, this is propaganda – utterly lacking a skeptical eye. The irony is that Obama is using technology that democratized and flattened the media to centralize and strengthen the powers an institution, The Presidency.”