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Monday, October 27, 2014

USA Today’s Susan Page: Obama “More Dangerous” To Press Than Any Admin In History

Unnoticed in this environment where most of the mainstream media has their heads up the collective arses of the White House are the contrary voices still liberal but complaining that the Obama administration is least transparent, and most unfriendly to the press than any administration they have ever covered.  AP Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee recently presented eight specific examples of how the Obama administration blocks information to the public via the press warning, "The fight for access to public information has never been harder."​ Similar comments have come from New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who said, “It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and of course Sharyl Attkisson whose new book reveals this administration not only bugged her computer but planted evidence on it so they could arrest her or one of her sources at a later date.

Eric Wemple of the "Washington Post" is reporting that This past Saturday "USA Today" Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page added her name to the list of press malcontents.  Speaking at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) seminar, Page called the Obama White House not only “more restrictive” but also “more dangerous” to the press than any other in history, a clear reference to the Obama administration’s leak investigations and its naming of Fox News’s James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a violation of the Espionage Act.
The WHCA convened the event both to strategize over how to open up the byways of the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history, as well as to compare war stories on the many ways in which it is not. Peter Baker, the veteran Washington reporter from the New York Times, provided perhaps the best instance of White House-administered madness. In covering a breaking story recently, Baker received a note from a White House handler indicating that President Obama had been briefed on the matter in question.

That information came to Baker “on background.” The gist: Not from me — a meeting has occurred..

Other gripes: Correspondents took aim at large-scale “deep background” briefings — attended by up to 40-odd reporters — at which ground rules specify no names for the officials in attendance and no quotations of anything they say. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl spoke of covering the Boston Marathon bombings. As the story developed, Karl noted that the White House wasn’t giving out any information at all. So he went around it and found out that the feds were sending their high-value interrogation team to Boston. “No way I would have gotten that out of the White House,” said Karl.

Bloomberg White House correspondent Margaret Talev noted how the White House stopped giving details on the fine wines served at state dinners, an opaque measure that she exposed in this story. In pursuing the piece, said Talev, she got the runaround from White House press officials, making her “so mad at them.” Over the course of a few weeks, she had to become, in essence, a wine correspondent.
On Friday, the day before the conference, President Obama had invited Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who had just completed her recovery from Ebola at the National Institutes of Health to the White House.  Prior to the meeting with Ms Pham the White House announced that still photographers would be allowed to document the proceedings. But print reporters and TV cameras would not be allowed. At the White House Daily briefing with Josh Earnest, ABC's Jonathan Karl asked why. Earnest responded that “many of you did have the opportunity to see [Pham] deliver remarks at the NIH upon her departure from the hospital.”
Karl: “That’s not answering the question. Why was this decision made?”

Earnest: “Because reporters did have the opportunity to see her speak already.” Also, the press secretary said that neither President Obama nor Pham planned on making any comments at the event. Taken together, those explanations amount to a lump of nothing.  
Talev said Saturday that it was “ridiculous” the White House didn’t provide full media access to the Pham-Obama meeting. In a Friday afternoon chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, recently retired ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton struggled to fathom the rationale for restricting access, given that the White House has been aggressive in sending the message that it’s fighting Ebola: “She’s been in government medical care for the last how many days?” notes Compton. “And she walks out unexpectedly looking terrific — why wouldn’t you want the world to see that the U.S. is doing what the White House has said? So today makes no sense to me.”
Of course it should makes sense to Ann Compton.  This is the administration that once had a meeting on transparency, and barred the press from attending.

Most interesting is the fact that many of the reporters complaining about the White House's treatment of the press ignore or misreport stories that could be damaging to the President or his Party.

As Big Daddy says in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,"  There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity!

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