July 9, 2009

SO IF THE ATLANTIC’S SALONS ARE ETHICALLY IFFY, WHAT ABOUT THIS? White House Press Corps Spent the Fourth of July Hanging Out With Obama, Off the Record. Or is it just wrong to get cozy with corporate bigshots?

Much of the White House press corps spent the Fourth schmoozing with White House staffers, catching performances by the Foo Fighters and Jimmy Fallon, and watching the fireworks from the most exclusive vantage point in the D.C. metro area, all off the record—not to mention off-the-Facebook and off-the-Twitter. These are the same people who just a week ago were whining in the press briefing about Obama’s malicious and dastardly attempts to “control the press.” . . .

There is a cosmic irony at work here: The party was “closed press.” (Ha!) It was covered, under onerous restrictions, by a pool reporter—the Baltimore Sun’s Paul West. West was ushered in by White House staffers for a mere 40 minutes, so he could record the president’s remarks. He was kept in a pen so that he wouldn’t run amok and interview someone. He shouted questions at Obama as he worked the rope line, which the president ignored. Then he was taken away. West wrote up his blindered account of the party and then e-mailed it to the White House press corps, many of whom were actually at the party, outside of the pen, hanging out with all the other guests. And then, because they had temporarily signed away the right to do their jobs in exchange for facetime with staffers, a few cold Stoudt’s American Pale Ales, and some corn on the cob, their news organizations picked up that pool report and used it to tell their readers what happened at the party. This is how the press covers the White House.

Covers, sucks up to, whatever. Jack Shafer, call your office!

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