WH-Banned West Coast Pool Reporter Gave Obama Invaluable Early 2008 Assist by Omission

Yesterday evening (late afternoon West Coast time), Phil Bronstein at the San Francisco Chronicle informed his readers that one of its reporters had been banned by the Obama administration:

The hip, transparent and social media-loving Obama administration is showing its analog roots. And maybe even some hypocrisy highlights.

 

White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.

The reporter involved is Carla Marinucci.

As will be shown later, Bronstein's characterization of her as "one of the best" is questionable. But let's continue the story:

... like many contemporary reporters, (Marinucci) has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times -shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.

Marinucci's video is at Bronstein's post. In it, a group of what appear to be mostly female protesters break into a song while President Obama is at the lectern. The song's wrap is: "We've paid our dues, where's our change?" For taking, posting, and reporting on this video, Marinucci has been banned.

Bronstein goes on:

So what's up with the White House? We can't say because neither Press Secretary Jay Carney nor anyone from his staff would speak on the record.

 

Other sources confirmed that Carla was vanquished, including Chronicle editor Ward Bushee, who said he was "informed that Carla was removed as a pool reporter." Which shouldn't be a secret in any case because it's a fact that affects the newsgathering of our largest regional paper (and sfgate)and how local citizens get their information.

 

What's worse: more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla's spanking became public. Really? That's a heavy hand usually reserved for places other than the land of the free.

Well, it may be a heavy hand, but it's generating pretty light coverage outside of the center-right blogosphere. A search on Marinucci's last name shortly after 2 p.m. ET at the Associated Press's home site comes up empty. Identical searches done the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times return either nothing, or nothing relevant. At Google News, a search on Marinucci's full name during the past 24 hours (sorted by date, with duplicates) returns 23 items (the first page says 39, but it's really 23).

The White House may have been waiting for an opportunity to pounce. On April 5, Marinucci filed a report relaying harsh criticism of the upcoming Obama fundraiser's hefty price tag:

Even loyal Obama supporters are raising their eyebrows at the very pricey fundraising -- like that exclusive $35,800-per-person dinner in San Francisco -- planned as part of the President's April 20 visit to the Bay Area.

 

The April Western U.S. swing by the President, which includes a stop in Reno and Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, is part of Obama's 2012 re-election kickoff campaign. But also scheduled is what the White House promises will be a jobs and economy event in the Bay Area on April 20.

 

On April 21, Obama heads to Los Angeles.

 

Obama supporters acknowledge that the $35,800 per person San Francisco Obama Victory Fund dinner may represent a new pricetag high for political fundraising. After all, loyal Dems thought the ceiling was reached last Oct. 21, when tickets to that Obama dinner in the Palo Alto home of Google executive Marissa Mayer hit an astonishing $30,800 per person.

 

Yes, "there's a little bit of sticker shock,'' one Dem told us this week. The explanation: $30,800 of that donation will go to the Democratic National Committee, with $5,000 going to the Obama campaign -- $2,500 for the primary and $2,500 for the general election.

 

... And this is just the beginning for California's deep-pocketed donors: remember, it's still 19 months until the 2012 election.

Part of the report was picked up at Fox News. That may have generated a big "uh-oh" in the Chronicle's newsroom.

Early this morning, Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media, after yours truly chose to sleep first (darn you, Ed), noted that instead of banning Marinucci, Team Obama owes her a debt of gratitude for her possibly election-saving journalistic negligence in early 2008 (video is at the link):

... during the cold winter of 2008 ... Obama felt free to tell the San Fransisco Chronicle that he’d cheerfully bankrupt coal companies, and not-coincidentally, “energy costs would necessarily skyrocket.”

That tidbit stayed bottled up in the full video in an obscure location at the Chronicle's web site, uncited by any of the paper's reporters, including Marinucci, who as proven in this saved document at my web host, was the reporter tasked to write up the results of then-candidate Obama's hour-long interview.

The video surfaced via Naked Emperor News on November 1, just days before the election, too late to have any meaningful influence.

That its contemporaneous release in January 2008, when Obama was by most accounts running neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton, would have had influence would be tough to argue, as a partial transcript originally done by P.J. Gladnick at NewsBusters shows:

Let me sort of describe my overall policy.

 

What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.

 

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

 

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

 

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

 

The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a (sic) ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

 

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

 

It's just that it will bankrupt them.

As I wrote when Naked Emperor's vid was released (bold is mine):

In connection with its interview ... the Chronicle published almost 2,500 words on January 18 ... 1,300 went to its primary article, and roughly 1,200 went to an “In His Own Words” segment. None of the verbiage in the audio is in the Chronicle’s coverage. Lots of other verbiage that is much less newsworthy is.

 

What’s more, during the energy debates of July and August, when, among other things, Harry Reid was telling us that “coal is making us sick,” reporters Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli, who wrote the January 17 items, “somehow” forgot Obama’s aggressive anti-fossil fuels statements in the January interview. Real journalists would have remembered –- and reported.

Marinucci attempted to excuse the inexcusable. That link is apparently no longer available; as I recall, the best she could say is that coal wasn't a particularly important local angle (uh, Carla, the presidency is a national contest).

Mark Steyn justifiably lit into her:

There is no explanation for the Chronicle’s action if they’re in the newspaper business (i.e., in attracting readers, selling copies, etc.). But it makes perfect sense if they’re in the ideological PR business in hopes of electing politicians sufficiently grateful to include them in the next $700 billion bailout.

It is beyond reasonable dispute that if a GOP or conservative had done to a reporter what Team Obama has just done to Marinucci, accompanied by the apparent intimidation of other reporters, these actions would be getting wall-to-wall establishment press coverage. Marinucci and the Chronicle aren't the only ones in the ideological PR business.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.