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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Obama White House Bars Local Reporter From Event After Romney Job Op-Ed Published On Front Page

The pattern is emerging of an extremely thin-skinned Obama and White House bent on trying to control the media and punishing outlets that do not toe some imaginary line.

Back in April 2011, SFGate publicly admonished the Obama administration for banning one of their reporters after using multimedia, then responded quite vehemently when the White House denied doing so.

Chronicle editor Ward Bushee called the press office on its fib:

Sadly, we expected the White House to respond in this manner based on our experiences yesterday. It is not a truthful response. It follows a day of off-the-record exchanges with key people in the White House communications office who told us they would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all.

The Chronicle's report is accurate.

If the White House has indeed decided not to ban our reporter, we would like an on-the-record notice that she will remain the San Francisco print pool reporter.

Today, it is the Boston Herald reporting that the "White House shuts out Herald scribe," with another article stating in their headline "Obama off the deep end."

The White House Press Office has refused to give the Boston Herald full access to President Obama’s Boston fund-raiser today, in e-mails objecting to the newspaper’s front page placement of a Mitt Romney op-ed, saying pool reporters are chosen based on whether they cover the news “fairly.”

“I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich wrote in response to a Herald request for full access to the presidential visit.

“My point about the op-ed was not that you ran it but that it was the full front page, which excluded any coverage of the visit of a sitting US President to Boston. I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the President’s visits,” Lehrich wrote.

Emphasis mine.

So, it is now acceptable for the White House to determine what is and isn't "fair'?

Despite the very clearly worded attempt to control what is reported, how a paper reports and the content of the front page, Lehrich then denies that is the reason the reporter was refused access.

Joe Battenfeld, in the second linked piece above, believes this is a control freak type issue:

But using the White House press pool to possibly punish or reward media based on what the White House considers “fair” coverage? This is taking the control freak thing to new levels.

I’ve been on many press pools and can’t remember getting denied access because of which media outlet I worked for. Even when the Herald was writing critical articles about former Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1988, his campaign never bumped us off the plane or kept us off the pool based on what we wrote. Same goes for President Clinton. You think Gov. Deval Patrick likes having the Herald and other media follow him around all day? No, but it’s part of his job.

Mitt Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom responds:

“That op-ed was about jobs, which apparently is a sensitive subject for the thin-skinned people around the president. The White House may be able to manipulate pool coverage, but they can’t manipulate the fact that millions of Americans are out of work because of President Obama’s failure to create jobs and get our economy moving,” Fehrnstrom said in a statement yesterday.

William Teach over at Pirate's Cove provides a wonderfully valid point and comparison to the media's treatment of Obama to Bush:

Let’s suppose, for a change, that President Bush had done this: most of the MSM would be all over the issue, calling Bush a fascist and accusing him of destroying the Constitution

Good point. Where are the other media's outlets on this issue, they seem to be completely silent, perhaps scared that if they report on this, then they too will be punished by the control freak in the White House and his henchmen?

Google News search finds very few willing to stand up for the integrity of the media in not letting the White House dictate how they report, what they report and what content goes where in their papers.

The Daily Caller provides other instances of press manipulation by the Obama administration from reporters being tucked away in a closet to White House officials calling papers to have "unflattering" descriptions removed from pieces they were going to publish.

H/T Memeorandum.

[Update] Via Instapundit@Twitter we see Veteran Journalists saying the "current crop of White House correspondents are too timid and deferential." (Source- US News)

Ya think?