Tags: Barack Obama | White House | secrecy | media

USA Today's Susan Page: Obama WH 'Dangerous' for Reporters

By    |   Tuesday, 28 October 2014 09:56 AM

The Obama administration, despite the president's promises of transparency, is "more dangerous" to the media than any other White House in history, USA Today's Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page said this weekend.

Page, speaking Saturday at a White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) seminar, also said the administration is "more restrictive," in reference to the its leak investigations and naming Fox News' James Rosen as a co-conspirator in a violation of the federal Espionage Act, writes The Washington Post's Eric Wemple in an opinion piece Tuesday.

The association met to discuss how to get the Obama White House to keep up to its claims of being the most transparent administration in history and to trade stories on the ways that it has remained tightly closed and contained instead.

Veteran New York Times reporter Peter Baker, telling one of the stories, said that while he was covering a breaking news story, he got a note from an aide that Obama had been briefed on the matter, but was told that the information was "on background," which could be taken to mean "not from me — a meeting has occurred."

Other correspondents spoke of "deep background" meetings, in which they are not permitted to report names of officials or quote anything they say, wrote Wemple, requiring journalists to seek other sources.

For example, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl said to get information about the Boston Marathon bombings, he had to go around the White House to find out a federal interrogation team was being sent to Boston.

"No way I would have gotten that out of the White House,” said Karl.

Just the day before Saturday's WHCA meeting, another example of White House control occurred. President Barack Obama had greeted Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse newly released from the National Institutes of Health after being treated for Ebola. Only photographers were allowed to document their meeting; print and television journalists were not.

When Karl asked why, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that "many of you did have the opportunity to see [Pham] deliver remarks at the NIH upon her departure from the hospital," and because neither Obama or Pham had planned to speak at the White House.

The access complaints have been going on for some time. Last November, news organizations sent a letter to the White House complaining about limited access for photographers.

Reporters and photographers were also not permitted to attend a meeting between Ebola survivor Kent Brantly and Obama on Sept. 16, leaving news outlets to also rely on running official White House photos.

The White House is now working with a WHCA liaison on opportunities for coverage, and spokesman Eric Schultz said the administration "believes in the value of transparency." The press, he said, "has a responsibility to always push for more access and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be doing their jobs.”

But the current complaints aren't the first from journalists about the Obama administration.

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, has said that "it is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering”; New York Times reporter James Risen has said he thinks that "Obama hates the press;" and CBS News' Bob Schieffer complained last year that "this administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.”

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The Obama administration, despite the president's promises of transparency, is "more dangerous" to the media than any other White House in history, USA Today's Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page says.
White House, secrecy, media
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 09:56 AM
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