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Obama vs. the Press Corps: Revolt Against ‘Draconian Restrictions’ and White House ‘Propaganda’ Photos

"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."

by
Bridget Johnson

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December 13, 2013 - 11:56 am
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WASHINGTON — In complaints that one might hear of a third-world government, the chorus of press-freedom advocates and journalists decrying the Obama administration’s access and attitude toward the media is just growing louder.

At Thursday’s White House press briefing, 17 testy minutes were dedicated to peppering press secretary Jay Carney about access to the president for press photographers.

Santiago Lyon, a longtime photojournalist and head of the photo department at the Associated Press, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Thursday slamming the White House’s “draconian restrictions” on press photographers and branding its handout photos “propaganda.”

Lyon said the “undemocratic” policies of the administration that pledged to be the most transparent ever began on Day One of President Obama’s first term, when the press corps was banned from photographing Obama during his first day on the job. Since then the media have only gotten two photo opportunities with Obama alone in the Oval Office, both times when the president was speaking on the phone.

The White House has pointed to the stream of photos from its official photographer, Pete Souza, available on social media, but Lyon argued that the quality of the photos misses the point.

“By no stretch of the imagination are these images journalism. Rather, they propagate an idealized portrayal of events on Pennsylvania Avenue,” he wrote. “If you take this practice to its logical conclusion, why have news conferences? Why give reporters any access to the White House? It would be easier to just have a daily statement from the president (like his recorded weekly video address) and call it a day. Repressive governments do this all the time.”

Lyon’s observations come a few weeks after a photographers’ revolt of sorts at the White House. The White House Correspondents’ Association and 37 news organizations joined in sending a letter to Carney stressing that previous administrations have recognized “the right of journalists to gather the news is most critical when covering government officials acting in their official capacities.”

“It is clear that the restrictions imposed by your office on photographers undercut the President’s stated desire to continue and broaden that tradition,” they wrote. “To exclude the press from these functions is a major break from how previous administrations have worked with the press.”

At the core of the protest is the simple fact that “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.”

Journalists were especially irked at how, the day that letter was sent, the White House tweeted an official photo of news photographers being allowed to take pictures of Obama signing a bill at his desk.

USA Today announced it wouldn’t run official White House photos unless there was some extraordinary national security circumstance that meant press corps photographers could not be present. Other news agencies stressed policies that handout photos are only to be used in exceptional circumstances.

The photo storm has been brewing for some time, but really caught fire a month before the photojournalists’ letter, after the Committee to Protect Journalists — an organization that often focuses on the ill treatment of reporters in repressive regimes — issued a scathing report charging that the White House “curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press.”

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Top Rated Comments   
What possible leverage does the press have on him? That they will only spend 2/3 of their time pushing his agenda in stead of all their time?

Useful idiots.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The press got up in arms when ITALY was spied upon...but not when WE were spied upon.

The press is up in arms when IT is treated as if we are in a banana republic, not when WE are treated as if we are in a banana republic .

If the media is only concerned about how they are treated, after being good little lapdogs, then they have no standing to complain. For it is THEIR failure to care about us that have rise to the lawless and tyrannical behavior. They birthed it, and it has grown fangs to devour them as well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You should care very much about this. You should care about a free press in principle, even when they are ardent leftists, and you should care about the potential for this issue to erode support for this dictator among his base.

This could be huge, if the press ever gets over its battered wife syndrome long enough to tell the truth.

I'm not holding my breath on that, of course.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (28)
All Comments   (28)
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I personally, as someone who is the mouth of Sauron, have a great deal of passion about this issue...

When you become the messenger of a fool, you become a fool yourself. That would matter anyone but a liberal.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's concentrate on the pro-Obama administration New York Times and the Washington Post: - their "complaints" seem very hollow and dis-informative.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
wow, media are learning that they aren't so special to this affirmative action, unpatriotic, irresponsible, chicago thug failure, and that once they got him into office, he has no problem throwing them under the bus.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If it were not so sad, I would be laughing. Has the sycophantic, slobbering Pravda Press finally awakened? No, as CFBleachers so aptly stated, when this administration suddenly comes after them, woooo this guy is doing something wrong. Where in the hell have you been for the past five years? I'll tell you where. You've been humping his leg and praying for scraps to be thrown your way. Now you know how he really feels about you. We've known how he feels about us for years now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Lame Stream EneMedia harlots have their heads so far up OBOZO's a** that they know what he had for breakfast.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"In complaints that one might hear of a third-world government, the chorus of press-freedom advocates and journalists decrying the Obama administration’s access and attitude toward the media is just growing louder."
Earth to Bridget: The Obama administration IS a third world government, hell-bent on turning the USA into a third world country. The MSM enthusiastically helped to create this Obama monster, and now they're reaping the whirlwind.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Lame Stream EneMedia is just the Propaganda branch of the DemocRATS
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If photographers had greater access, how many Obama selfies would we have seen by now?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"This could be huge, if the press ever gets over its battered wife syndrome long enough to tell the truth. I'm not holding my breath on that, of course."

Well, don't, because you'll get all blue in the face.

"The press" is miffed that the object of its affection is fickle and insecure? So the admin. will toss a few roses or exclusive conference calls or WH party invitations at some key members of the slavish, sycophantic agenda media and all will be forgiven.

Non stop photographs at every vapid utterance of the narcissist in chief are embarrassing. "the press" could serve by stopping taking any of this dance seriously.

I'm not holding my breath.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"..officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view."

The public's getting an "independent view" in spite of this administration's extreme attempts at control, spin and obfuscation. At least the part of the public that is paying attention.

"...this White House is hypersensitive about its press coverage,"

Well, duh, obvious from the getgo in '08, Obama out there telling Congress not to listen to Rush Limbaugh and telling graduating college seniors to get some "balance" over at Huffington Post etc.

He's been complaining about his critics for the duration, just as much (if not more) as he's been blaming George Bush.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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