On May 20, ABC's Jake Tapper asked a few salient questions about coverage of an April 27 incident at the White House basketball court, a sort of event after the event that the White House press corps was barred from covering. Tapper wondered then why the president barred the press but it later became clear that Team Obama was creating its own little media report "complete with cuts, interviews, and chyrons identifying who's speaking."
Tapper subtly warned that the president's penchant for controlling the message smacks of an Obama Ministry of Propaganda styled effort that excludes "actual reporters" from covering the White House and leaves the country with faux news that is free of any "uncomfortable questions" asked by probing journalists.
At issue is a pick-up basketball game on the White House court that President Obama hosted with NCAA champion basketball team the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies. The impromptu game was joined by the Lady Huskies after Obama met publicly with team members and their families, a meeting that the White House press corps was permitted to observe. But, as Tapper shows, reporters were "not allowed to attend" the impromptu basketball game held after the official meeting.
Reads the print pool report from that day: "After shaking hands with the team's parents and members of Congress who showed up, the president walked the team over to his basketball court and shot hoops. The pool was held back from the stroll down the drive and around the corner, and couldn't see the court. Poolers could hear periodic cheering coming from the other side of the bushes."
The lap dog media snubbed by The One! Ouch.
But here is the thing, coverage of this basketball game appeared on Obama's new media extravaganza that Tapper dubs "OTV." The real press was not allowed, but Team Obama created its own media coverage instead.
So, why was the real press kept away from this simple basketball game and how many more times in the future will Obama's handlers exclude the press from covering the president in the people's house? Further, is this Ministry of Propaganda styled, presidential approved "media" coverage the sort of thing that American's should be concerned about? Isn't it a troubling proposition to have the White House excluding the actual press to create its own media reports for public consumption? Even if the Old Media is so often a lap dog for Obama, isn't his outright dismissal of them something to raise eyebrows? Further, would that snubbed White House press corps allow without comment a Republican president to do this sort of thing?
Speaking of penchants, Tapper is well known to cast a zinger or two and he didn't disappoint with this little Political Punch posting. Remembering how past presidents have bemoaned how vicious the press was to them, Tapper unleashes this amusing little jab:
Do Obama White House officials think their media coverage isn't flattering enough?
Certainly a tacit admission that the press has let Obama off easy thus far. But Tapper's chief criticism is one we should all wonder about.
It's perfectly fine, of course, for the White House to put out its own version of events -- but is it right to do so by preventing actual reporters from covering something? (Even something like a pickup basketball game).
Is the goal to ultimately replace the pesky photographers who film what they want to and not what they're told to (not to mention the annoying reporters who ask uncomfortable questions about, say, detainee policy and bank bailouts)?
Heady questions, indeed.
So, are you ready for your "OTV"? Tapper ain't so thrilled. We shouldn't be either.
(Photo credit: The American Press Institute)