How the ‘Most Transparent Administration Ever’ Edits and Censors Press Pool Reports
In yet another example of how the Obama administration controls what the press reports, reporters are going on the record about how this White House edits and censors press pool reports, which used to just be sent out to other reporters.
Journalists who cover the White House say Obama’s press aides have demanded — and received — changes in press-pool reports before the reports have been disseminated to other journalists. They say the White House has used its unusual role as the distributor of the reports as leverage to steer coverage in a more favorable direction.
The disputed episodes involve mostly trivial issues and minor matters of fact. But that the White House has become involved at all represents a troubling trend for journalists and has prompted their main representative, the White House Correspondents’ Association, to consider revising its approach to pool reporting.
They go on to describe many of the examples when the White House objected to a report and refused to send it out until the reporter changed it. How’s that for the “most transparent administration ever”?
Here’s one account:
During [a trip in 2011], then-deputy press secretary Josh Earnest flagged another of Nakamura’s reports. This one contained a comment juxtaposing a speech Obama had given two days earlier lauding freedom of the press with the administration’s decision to limit access to presidential photo ops on the trip.
Earnest, who succeeded Carney as press secretary in May, considered Nakamura’s comparison unfair and asked him to take it out, according to Nakamura. After an argument, the reporter acquiesced.
So the White House was able to force a reporter to change his story that showed how they were hypocritical about, ironically, the freedom of the press. Just imagine if George W. Bush had done similar, it’d be World War 3 (or four, depending on your count).
And why haven’t we heard about this before? The White House Correspondents’ Association negotiates this arrangement with the administration, but they’re obviously too busy yukking it up at their annual dinner with the administration and basking in their imperial president’s glow to mount any serious criticism of this encroachment on the free press. Oh wait, they put out this statement:
“The independence of the print pool reports is of utmost importance to us,” said Christi Parsons, a Los Angeles Times reporter who is the WHCA’s new president. “Our expectation is that the White House puts out the pool report and asks questions later.”
Yeah it’s of such utmost importance that it took 6 years into Obama’s presidency for anyone to talk about it. I have a feeling the press won’t grow a spine and actually do their damn job until a Republican gets into the office.