White House Press Corps Rebels Over Photo Access

Press Secretary Jay Carney scrambles to answer questions over administration access for photographers

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced open revolt from the White House press corps Thursday over the Obama administration’s rules governing photographic coverage of the President.

Coming on the heels of a letter from the White House Correspondents Association and an op-ed from the Associated Press Director of Photography protesting restrictive policies, Carney said the White House is “working” on expanding access to Obama.

“Let me tell you at the start here that from the president on down, everyone here believes strongly in the absolute necessity of a free and independent press to cover the presidency, to cover the government, to cover Washington,” Carney said in response to reporters who peppered him with questions about why photographers have been denied access to what Obama bills as the “most transparent administration” ever.

MORE: Why Photographers Need More Access In The White House

Santiago Lyon, a longtime photojournalist and director of photography at the Associated Press, wrote in the New York Times that photographers have only been given the opportunity to photograph the president alone in the Oval Office twice. Lyon’s criticism went further, calling the images distributed by the White House on social media “propaganda,” issued “in hypocritical defiance of the principles of openness and transparency he campaigned on.” Carney questioned the veracity of Lyon’s column, but said the White House is holding conversations with photographers to improve access. He continued with a lengthy statement in praise of photographers from his days as a former correspondent for TIME.

Carney framed the issue in terms of technology and distribution. “There are new technological developments, the Internet, that make the way that theses images are disseminated different from how it was done in the past,” he said. “And they used to develop film in a basement here and hand it out in the briefing room.”

Reporters and photographers contend that the issue isn’t distribution or competition — it’s public vs. administration access to the most important person on the planet. Take this week’s 18-hour flights to and from South Africa for a memorial service for Nelson Mandela. White House photographer Pete Souza published a slideshow of candid photographs of Obama, the First Lady, former President George W. Bush, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the trip. At the back of the plane, a 15-person press pool, including still photographers and videographers, were denied access to the president.

“For a lot of those hours, the president, former president, first lady and the former first lady were asleep,” Carney said by way of defense, as reporters snickered.

“What I can also assure you is that we will not create a day that has never existed, at least in modern times, when everyone in the White House press corps is satisfied with the amount of access they get to the president,” Carney said. “That would be, I think, impossible to expect.”

One reporter shouted at Carney, “That doesn’t mean we can’t be provided more.”

10 comments
reallife
reallife

Oh the outrage!!! now the press found some balls? 

where were you after Benghazzi? four dead Americans wasnt outrageous enough for you to question the White House?

where were you when this charlatan was running for office? 

where were you when he was lying his arse off about obamacare?

where were you when the IRS went after the Tea Party members?

....


now you're outraged? now? because you can't take some pictures? you know what you can do with your pathetic outrage...

you would be ashamed if you had some integrity



grape_crush
grape_crush

I know someone who attended a White House function - the Obamas were in attendance, but later left to celebrate a birthday. When that person saw the Obamas gathered in an area visible but separate from the party, they tried to take a picture. They were neatly intercepted by the Secret Service and told that pictures were not permitted and that the Obamas kept personal family events private. The person I know told me they understood that completely. 


Are reporters asking for greater access to personal or trivial parts of the President's life? Getting elected doesn't mean that you are signing up to do a reality teevee show, is it?



WorldPeas
WorldPeas

How much real access could anyone expect to get?

SpikeLee
SpikeLee

While the White House Press Corps was perfectly fine covering up for George Bush on the Iraq War, they've finally drawn the line that must not be crossed: photo-ops!


So much for journalism.

SpikeLee
SpikeLee

While the White House Press Corps wa perfectly fine covering up for George Bush on the Iraq War, they seem to have their priorities in check.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Does anyone actually care about photo access? 

yogi
yogi

This is what happens when you take photos of the president's dog knocking over little blonde girls. You brought this upon yourself press corps...

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

What happened to the transparency promise ? The President is a public servant. Short of pictures of him taking a poop and other related personal activity, Obama in his work area  is public image.

SarahVanEvans
SarahVanEvans

@grape_crushPretty much.  When you're the leader of the United States of America, every action you take outside your private rooms is on the public dime.  You don't get "days off"  You don't have any expectation of privacy.  If that's too onerous, Obama is free to resign at any time.