Saturday, April 30, 2011

White House Denies Banning SF Gate Reporter

According to WL Central, the White House is now denying it ever said it would ban SF Gate reporter Carla Marinucci, as reported by San Francisco Chronicle's SF Gate last week:
The White House is denying, contrary to reports, that it was seeking to blacklist the San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Carla Marinucci.

WL Central reported yesterday how the White House was seeking to punish the San Francisco news organization for reporting on a protest against the inhumane pretrial incarceration of alleged military whistleblower Bradley Manning, during a fundraiser for President Obama on the 21st of April. [See Marinucci's coverage of this event here.]

It had been reported that the journalist Carla Marinucci's use of video from the event was being viewed as a transgression against the regulations covering "print-pool" invitations to White House events, and that this was to be used as the pretext for her exclusion from future events.

Now, the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has issued a statement denying that any such punishments were being issued to the press for reporting on an issue of legitimate public interest:

The San Francisco Chronicle violated the coverage rules that they -– and every other media outlet –- agreed to as part of joining the press pool for that event. If they thought the rules were too restrictive they should have raised that at the beginning. However, no reporters have been banned from covering future presidential events and the White House of course would have no problem including any reporter who follows the rules in pool-only events.

This puts the White House's version of events in direct conflict with that of the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported yesterday in three separate articles on the issue.
There was more to SF Chronicle Editor Ward Bushee's statement. He insisted on the accuracy of the SF Chronicle's coverage of the White House threats against it, and dared the White House to give "an on-the-record notice that she [Manucci] will remain the San Francisco print pool reporter."

It's good to see someone in the press corps stand up against the bullying of the White House. The video of the protesters singing about freeing Bradley Manning in front of Obama -- at a $5,000 dollar a plate dinner no less, meaning the protest cost the demonstrators probably $20,000 to $30,000 -- must have stung the President, and caused aides to go scurrying, as the tape was widely played on the news.

As Chronicle Editor-at-Large, Phil Bronstein, pointed out, making rules that exclude video from press pool, when every cell phone has a video, is an attempt to control the news: "Video is every bit a part of any journalist's tool kit these days as a functioning pen that doesn't leak through your pocket."

The White House and Congress had better get used to sharper and more critical political protest, as people are getting fed up with their austerity measures, gifts to oil and big business, and their policy of endless wars. Although a few days back I called Obama's actions against Manucci "positively Nixonian," another president comes to mind at this point, as the strong criticism of a Democratic Party incumbent president prosecuting a stalemated war begins to reminds one redolently of the fate of Lyndon Johnson.

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