The Most Transparent Administration Evah recently showed its commitment to complete openness by, er, threatening to ban Hearst reporter from the White House reporter pool for the egregious crime of using a Flip camera. Carla Marinucci happened to tape part of a protest last month at an Obama fundraiser where a group stood up and sang “Where’s Our Change?”
For this sin, Marinucci got threatened with banishment from the pool, where reporters are apparently only allowed technology that could be found as late as 1940 for their work. But that isn’t really the OOTD, as petty as that is. When the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the “Carla fatwa,” the White House first threatened to ban all Hearst reporters from access, and then tried denying that it had threatened Hearst at all. Both Phil Bronstein and Ward Bushee at the Chronicle called shenanigans:
In a pants-on-fire moment, the White House press office today denied anyone there had issued threats to remove Carla Marinucci and possibly other Hearst reporters from the press pool covering the President in the Bay Area.
Chronicle editor Ward Bushee called the press office on its fib:
Sadly, we expected the White House to respond in this manner based on our experiences yesterday. It is not a truthful response. It follows a day of off-the-record exchanges with key people in the White House communications office who told us they would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all.
The Chronicle’s report is accurate.
If the White House has indeed decided not to ban our reporter, we would like an on-the-record notice that she will remain the San Francisco print pool reporter.
I was on some of those calls and can confirm Ward’s statement.
Messy ball now firmly in White House court.
All this just to keep reporters from recording what happens at fundraisers? At least they didn’t try tossing Marinucci into a closet. Do they frisk donors at these events to keep cell phones and Flip cameras out, too? Why is the Most Transparent Administration Evah afraid of reporters looking for accurate quotes while on the record?
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