WashPost: Obama Shutting Down White House Tours Isn't a Stunt, It's a 'Civics Lesson'

March 9th, 2013 5:46 PM

The front page of Saturday's Washington Post took the publicity stunt of shutting down White House tours and spun it as an educational event. The headline was “In canceled White House tours, a civics lesson: Disappointed tourists help administration show sequester’s pain.” Inside the paper, the headline was “Worthless tickets drive home government’s dysfunction.” Ahem, the tickets are free even when they are honored.

The online headline was even worse: "With canceled tours, White House teaching how democracy works." Reporter David Nakamura blamed not Obama but the "dysfunctional state of the union":

The White House tour is a civics lesson on American democracy. And starting Saturday, when 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. shuts its doors to the public, that lesson will focus on the dysfunctional state of the union.

After "bummed out" members of the public were quoted, just four lines before the story jumped off the front page, “pouncing” Republicans were allowed a rebuttal, and the word "stunt" was eventually mentioned as a Republican complaint:

Republicans have pounced, questioning why the Obama administration is ending the free, self-guided visits to a building that ultimately belongs to taxpayers.

Administration officials say the decision was made by the Secret Service, which estimated that ending the tours for roughly 11,000 people a week would save $74,000 in weekly overtime costs. That adds up to about $2 million in savings through the end of the fiscal year in September, it said.

Nakamura didn’t mention that ABC’s Jonathan Karl estimated the weekly tour cost at $18,000 a week.