Transparency? Not this White House
Ben Smith at Politico reports that Police chased off reporters yesterday during a protest of DADT by gay service members, in uniform who chained themselve to the fence. As you might expect, the press was not at all happy:
Police chased reporters away from the White House and closed Lafayette Park today in response to a gay rights protest in which several service members in full uniform handcuffed themselves to the White House gate to protest “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
People who have covered the White House for years tell me that’s an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.
Smith has a video up showing this happening. Some might think that Smith is making too much of a isolated incident, but apparently there is some real discontent within the White House press corps specificially and the Washington media in general. This is just another incident that further deepens that discontent.
Jamie Dupree points out that every White House eventually comes into conflict with the WH press corps and the press in general – there a natural friction there. The press wants unlimited access and the WH simply can’t grant that. However, Ed Chen, the head of the White House Correspondent’s Association says this particular White House seems even worse than others:
Chen’s quote to Politico is very interesting, saying that in his over 10 years at the White House, “rarely have I sensed such a level of anger, which is wide and deep, among members over White House practices and attitude toward the press.”
In other words, reporters feel like this administration is not being very open on a number of fronts.
At issue is how the Obama White House has limited press access to events, using its own photographer for example to take pictures, and not allowing photo opportunities and/or questions for Presidential meetings with other world leaders.
Now you may say, “big deal, so the press is whining”. And I’m not one to normally stick up for the press. But they do have a job to perform. And as all of us know, especially when the news might be damaging to political opponents, Democrats love to wave “the people’s right to know” around like a flag.
However, the thing to be reminded of here is the promise – the most transparant administration ever (right up there with the Pelosi promise of “the most ethical Congress ever”). This strong-arming of the press to keep them away from covering some “dissenters” is just another in a long line of examples of what you get when you buy a pig in a poke and don’t do the due dilligence of examining the character and background of the person making all the grand promises.
The discovery process – which the very same press should have been an intimate part of prior to Obama’s election – is now yielding much less than was hoped for (yes, I use the word “hope” in place of “expected” because expectation is usually based in actions of the past). Perhaps that’s why Obama’s popularity polls continue to fall.
Meanwhile the press is reaping what it helped sow.