Most transparent administration evah sorry for making journo delete photos

posted at 2:48 pm on March 14, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

It was a college student journalist. You know how dangerous they can be.

A staffer for Vice President Joe Biden demanded that a reporter delete photos he’d taken at an event in Rockville, Md., Tuesday. The vice president’s office later apologized to University of Maryland J-school Dean Lucy Dalglish after she complained about the incident in a letter.

Jeremy Barr, a reporter with the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service, was seated in a non-press section for the event, at which the vice president announced an anti-domestic violence initiative. Biden staffer Dana Rosenzweig approached Barr after the event and ordered him to delete photos.

I feel for the reporter in question, but who’s teaching them to comply so readily? Barr was told to delete photos on his camera, and then had his iPhone inspected before being detained briefly before he was allowed to leave the venue. Come on, man!

Barr said he unknowingly sat in a section of the crowd designated as a non-press area.

“I didn’t see any demarcation that would have designated a press entrance versus a general entrance,” Barr said.

“The event began and I took a few photos of each speaker,” Barr said. “People a few rows in front of me were also taking photos.”

After the event was over, Barr was questioned.

“(The staffer) asked, ‘Did you take any photos during the event?’” Barr said. He told the staffer, yes, he had taken a few photos.

“She said, ‘I need to see your camera right now.’” Barr said. The staffer called Barr’s presence in the non-press area an “unfair advantage” over the other members of the media at the event.

The staffer then requested to watch as Barr deleted the photos from his camera to ensure his compliance, Barr said.

After deleting the photos from the camera, the staffer asked Barr to show her his iPhone to make sure no photos were saved. Barr complied.

“I assumed that I’d violated a protocol,” Barr said. “I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she was following proper procedures.”

Barr was then asked to wait while the staffer contacted her supervisor. After approximately 10 minutes of waiting, the staffer made contact with her supervisor, apologized to Barr for the delay and permitted him to leave the venue.

But I’m sure Bob Woodward is crazy to imagine the bullying of White House staff might change coverage of the White House by younger, inexperienced reporters. This isn’t the first time Biden has been heavy-handed with the press. His staff has taken the unprecedented step of trying to airbrush press poll reports of Biden gaffes and stuck a pool member in a broom closet during a donor event. Mike Riggs has been keeping track of the most open and transparently think-skinned administration in history’s prickliest moments.

In other news, Vice President Biden has gone from elder statesman allegedly bringing gravitas and experience to the ticket in 2008 to wacky old uncle, to national joke, to ironic performance art. I present the White House’s new audio series, “Being Biden.”


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