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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Major News Organizations Accuse Barack Obama Aides Of 'Deceiving The Press Corps'

Six news organizations sent a letter to the campaign for Barack Obama accusing his aides of misleading them and deliberately deceiving them two weeks ago when Barack Obama stayed over in Washington to meet with Hillary Clinton.
The letter is mentioned in a New York Times article which discusses how the Obama campaign is trying to control Barack Obama's "image".

The Politico has obtained a copy of the letter which was sent on June 6, 2008, and it is signed by Robin Sproul from ABC News, Ron Fournier from Associated Press, Chris Isham from CBS News, David Bohrman from CNN, Brian Wilson from Fox News and recently deceased Tim Russert from NBC News.

In the letter they accuse aides of the Barack Obama campaign of misleading them, complain that he offers them less access than President Bush and only partially honors his agreement to admit reporters into fundraisers.

To review, the press corps was told the Senator would be in the motorcade from Bristol to the airport. He was not. Then, the press corps was told the Senator would actually join them at the airport. He did not. When pressed repeatedly, Robert Gibbs and other press aides insisted the Senator was on his way to the airport. He was not. When the campaign plane took off without the candidate, there were loud protests from the press corps because we were not given the option of staying in Washington. We do not commit to fly on charters to fly with press aides; we make that commitment to fly with the candidate. Each of our organizations is reviewing whether we will reimburse the campaign for last night's flight.

One example of the latter complaint about the fundraisers that Politico cites is an occurrence last night where the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut, who was the pool reporter for Obama, spent "more of the evening trapped in the pool house than in the Virginia home of Ethel Kennedy, where guests dropped $28,500 each to hear the candidate."

Anita Dunn, who is a senior adviser to Barack Obama, responds by saying, "The press corps wouldn’t be doing its job it if weren’t demanding more access than we’re willing to give. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t occasionally irritate the press.”

Controlling an image is important, but when one deliberately deceives reporters, especially from large media organizations, that almost seems like biting the hand that is feeding you.