The White House Correspondents’ Association is filing a formal complaint against the White House for excluding press from a celebration of the the 45th anniversary of the moon landing held at the White House Tuesday.
CBS chief White House correspondent Major Garrett coldly informed White House press secretary Josh Earnest of the complaint during Tuesday’s press conference.
“On behalf of the Correspondents’ Association I just want to lodge a formal complaint about the Apollo 11 event today,” Garrett said. “The astronauts were among the most visible, televised heralds this country has ever known.”
“That entire program is financed by the American taxpayer,” he continued. “We believe that that is a classic definition of something that should have the broadest press coverage imaginable. And we are therefore lodging a formal complaint against your decision to keep us out.”
A visibly flustered Earnest had nothing to say except, “These are legitimate American heroes.”
ABC chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl also brought up the anniversary, aggressively attacking Earnest and his excuse that President Obama’s schedule was too busy to accommodate press coverage of the event. ”Why the intense secrecy around this event?” he asked.
Earnest explained it away as “merely a scheduling matter,” but Karl wasn’t satisfied.
“The president’s schedule, couldn’t he have been maybe five minutes later for the fundraiser out in Seattle? You really couldn’t accommodate a few minutes for open coverage of this? … I find that explanation frankly a little hard to believe.” (RELATED: White House: Major International Crises No Reason To Stop Fundraising)
Karl speculated that it wasn’t a scheduling conflict, but a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to avoid coverage of the Apollo 11 astronauts, particularly Neil Armstrong, who were heavily critical of Obama’s handling of the space program and cancellation of the Constellation program in 2010. (RELATED: Experts Worry Astronauts Will Leave NASA With End Of Shuttle Program)
Fox senior White House correspondent Ed Henry also voiced his agreement.
Neil Armstrong spoke before Congress in 2010, harshly comparing Obama to a 16th century monarch and condemning his administration for its handling of NASA and America’s space programs.