Friday, July 10, 2009

But I'm sure the Press will be completely objective

... and continue their hard-hitting reporting of the Obama administration. Apparently, a number of major news organizations -- the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, ABC News, NBC News, CNN, CBS News, to name a few -- were invited to socialize with White House staffers at last week's Fourth of July Hawaiian-themed luau bash (hey, you paid for it), on condition that everything was "off the record" and that they agree not to report on the event:
"You are being invited to attend this event as a guest. Blogging, Twittering or otherwise reporting on this event is not permitted. If you feel that you cannot agree to abide by these ground rules, please don't claim a ticket."

As the Gawker article notes,
There is a cosmic irony at work here: The party was "closed press." (Ha!) It was covered, under onerous restrictions, by a pool reporter—the Baltimore Sun's Paul West. West was ushered in by White House staffers for a mere 40 minutes, so he could record the president's remarks. He was kept in a pen so that he wouldn't run amok and interview someone. He shouted questions at Obama as he worked the rope line, which the president ignored. Then he was taken away. West wrote up his blindered account of the party and then e-mailed it to the White House press corps, many of whom were actually at the party, outside of the pen, hanging out with all the other guests. And then, because they had temporarily signed away the right to do their jobs in exchange for facetime with staffers, a few cold Stoudt's American Pale Ales, and some corn on the cob, their news organizations picked up that pool report and used it to tell their readers what happened at the party. This is how the press covers the White House.

At the very least, attending a "closed press" event such as this, and agreeing not to report on it while a member of the press assigned to cover the organization sponsoring the event, lends an appearance of impropriety. The impression to an outside observer is one of a cozy and incestuous relationship between the Press and the administration it's supposed to objectively and critically covering. Gee, and you wonder why the Press has a credibility problem.

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