Reporters spent 20 minutes today pleading with White House spokesman Jay Carney to allow press photographers to take more candid photographs of President Barack Obama.
Bur Carney stonewalled the complaints.
He dismissed the photographers as irrelevant, suggested their concerns are selfish, said the media is losing money and market share and claimed the president — along with former President George W. Bush, who was also on board — could not be photographed on his 40-plus hours on the flights to-and-from South Africa.
“For a lot of those hours, the president, former president, first lady and the former first lady were asleep… or they were having dinner or something like that,” Carney told the reporters to their faces.
Instead of the press’s photographers, Obama’s personal photographer took pictures on the trip, and stood on the stage while Obama eulogized Nelson Mandela. Non-government reporters were kept away from the president.
During today’s press briefing, more that eight reporters complained, questioned and interjected, but Carney was unmoved.
Only one reporter asked what Obama thinks of the photographers’ exclusion. Carney pointedly refused to answer the question, which could suggest the press’s exclusion is directed by Obama himself, not merely by his press aides.
And a few minutes after they were insulted and rejected, many reporters were laughing at Carney’s jokes.
The press conference ended with more laughter, and leaving the excluded photographers without any relief.
The photographers’ situation, however, is merely a graphic display of Obama’s successful subjugation of the White House press corps.
The White House media rarely demonstrates any collective energy in pursuit of stories that would damage Obama, disappoint his cult-like following or discredit his faltering progressive agenda.
Numerous scandal have come and gone, doing far less damage to Obama than were inflicted on Bush by the media’s use of fewer and weaker scandals.
Obama demonstrated his view of the press on Dec. 5, when he casually dismissed the media’s coverage of the IRS scandal.
The scandal exploded in May when some officials, reporters and GOP legislators showed that top IRS officials had conspired to deny routine legal protections to Tea Party groups before and during the 2012 election.
But Obama slammed the coverage during his Dec. 5 interview with MSNBC’s interview with one of his fervent supporters, Chris Matthews.
“When we do things right, they don’t get a lot of attention,” Obama declared.
“If, on the other hand, you’ve got an office in Cincinnati, in the IRS office that — I think, for bureaucratic reasons, is trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret about whether a nonprofit is actually a political organization, deserves a tax exempt agency. And they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged,’ said Obama.
That was a triple-play — Obama effectively endorsed his IRS aide’s enemies list, reversed his previous criticism of the IRS’ actions and rebuked the media’s coverage of the scandal.
Yet no reporter has publicly asked Carney or his deputy, Josh Earnest, to explain Obama’s remarkable turnabout, criticism and dismissal of government favoritism.
Today, Carney displayed Obama-like contempt for the press, with his multifaceted rejection of the media’s complaints.
“I can commit to you that we were — we are working and have been working on expanding access where we can,” he claimed.
“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,” he said. “In the past, when White House photos were developed and handed out here, news organizations could decide whether their readers would ever see those photos. What exists now on the Internet is the ability for everyone — every one of you, everyone on the street, everyone around the world — to take a picture and put it on the Internet,” by bypassing the press photographers.
The diminished role of the photographers, he said, is part of “the transformation created by the Internet and the [financial] pressure that has put on business models.”
Then Carney even suggested the reporters’ call for greater access is merely self-enriching. “I think that’s what is often never mentioned in op-eds or in other venues where this issue is raised.”