Report: White House asked small California paper to remove negative remarks about First Lady

C’mon, no one’s this sensitive to bad press.

Well, almost no one.

In an email to The Daily Caller, Gina Channell-Allen, president of the Pleasanton Weekly in Pleasanton, California, said that her paper “received a call from the White House asking us to take out part of the story because it reflected poorly on the First Lady.”

The story in question was a soft feature about Marine One titled, “Inside Marine One, President Obama’s helicopter,” that ran in the paper on April 20. Pleasanton staffer Amory Gutierrez “didn’t get to ride in ‘Marine One,’” she wrote in her story, “but I did get the VIP tour and took photographs of the otherwise unseen aircraft.”

She also wrote a sentence that the White House thought made FLOTUS look snooty.

“Basically the reporter said that the First Lady didn’t speak to the pilots but acknowledged them by making eye contact,” Allen wrote in her email.

The weirdest part of this, of course, is that the WH ended up increasing the odds that the story would get picked up by bigger media when it decided to contact the publisher to complain. She was probably shocked to find that someone so high up was paying attention to a small paper 3,000 miles away and was itching to tell someone about it. And in fact, according to Daily Caller reporter Mike Riggs, she volunteered the info to the DC after reading their story about the latest White House tantrum over its press coverage. So why’d they go ahead and tip her off that her paper’s story had irked them? The answer, I assume, is that they’ve become highly attuned to how modern media, especially online media, gets its content. I’ve never heard of the Pleasanton Weekly and doubt we’ve ever received a tip about one of its stories, but it turns out that its articles are searchable on Google News. Presumably the White House feared that some blogger or bored Politico beat reporter would be searching “Michelle Obama” for unrelated reasons and end up stumbling across the item about Marine One. Before you know it, shazam — a new “FLOTUS is an elitist!” news bubble floats into the media mainstream. In fact, I’m sure that’s how the White House found the article too, doing some daily news crawl of “Michelle Obama” items on Google or Lexis or whatever.

In case you’re wondering, yes, the Pleasanton paper did remove the offending passage from the story. Tsk tsk. Painfully obvious exit question: How many other papers have gotten calls like this?