Monday, November 25, 2013

White House Responds to Criticism of Restrictions on Press... With A White House Photo of Photographers

    On Thursday, a scathing article by Ron Fournier entitled "Obama’s Image Machine: Monopolistic Propaganda Funded by You" ran at National Journal taking the White House to task for shutting out press photographers from presidential events in favor of official White House photos taken by White House photographer Pete Souza.  The article, which received wide play on Thursday, included numerous examples of the superior access Souza has over the press photographers, such as this:

    The frustration is exemplified in the opening anecdote in Fournier's piece:
New York Times photographer Doug Mills strode into Jay Carney's office Oct. 29 with a pile of pictures taken exclusively by President Obama's official photographer at events the White House press corps was forbidden to cover. "This one," Mills said, sliding one picture after another off his stack and onto the press secretary's desk. "This one, too – and this one and this one and … ." 
The red-faced photographer, joined by colleagues on the White House Correspondents' Association board, finished his 10-minute presentation with a flourish that made Carney, a former Moscow correspondent for Time, wince. 
"You guys," Mills said, "are just like Tass."
    Late on Thursday, the White House, as if in response to the criticism, released a photo by Pete Souza -- a photo of photojournalists covering the signing of two bills, the Streamlining Claims for Federal Contractor Employees Act, and the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustments Act of 2013, neither exactly marquee legislative achievements for the president:

    Perhaps the next time Doug Mills enters Jay Carney's office, he'll find a framed print of this photo on Carney's desk.

Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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