San Francisco Chronicle accuses White House of lying about banned pool reporter

Mike Riggs Contributor
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The San Francisco Chronicle has accused the White House of lying about a recent spat with one of its reporters. Last week, the Chronicle reported that the White House had threatened to ban Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci from participating in the White House pool after Marinucci, a member of the print pool, used her cell phone to record a group of Bradley Manning supporters heckling Pres. Obama at a recent San Francisco fundraiser.

According to the Chronicle’s first write-up of the spat, the White House press office threatened to ban Marinucci from the print pool during San Francisco events for using her cell phone, and forbade the paper from discussing the incident. A day later, the White House told reporters that the Chronicle’s allegations were “not true.”

Chronicle editor Ward Bushee wasted no time hitting back at the White House.

“Sadly, we expected the White House to respond in this manner based on our experiences yesterday,” Bushee wrote on Saturday. “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.”

Bushee added that the Chronicle is requesting an on-the-record confirmation that Marinucci is still eligible for pool duty during Obama’s trips to San Francisco.

The fight with the Chronicle comes roughly a month after a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel was asked to wait in a closet during a Winter Park fundraiser for Vice Pres. Joe Biden.

This isn’t the Obama White House’s first boondoggle with press access. In October 2009, just days after Robert Gibbs told ABC’s Jake Tapper that the White House would not pick and choose who could have access to administration officials, FOX News’ Major Garrett was denied permission to interview Obama Jobs Czar Kenneth Feinberg.

In another incident, the White House conducted its own in-house interview with then-Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to avoid questions about Kagan’s sexual orientation.