Photographic Proof of Obama's Lack of Transparency

That's an official, Obama-administration-approved picture, one of an endless stream of photos released via the official White House feed. Increasingly, sanctioned photos of Obama are all the public is seeing because the guy who pledged the most transparent administration ever is maintaining unprecedented control over independent snapshots of his activities.

Andrew Malcolm, a former press flack for First Lady Laura Bush now writing for Investor's Business Daily, notes that Obama even banned photographers accompanying him on his flight to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral from taking pictures of the president with George W. Bush (widely circulated photos of the pair onboard Air Force One were offical photos). Yet, says Malcolm, social media sites allow for a steady drip, drip, drip of supposedly behind-the-scenes images that promise access but really only "allow Obama to claim a kind of public transparency, giving individuals sanitized access to hidden moments with what are, in effect, mere photo news releases."

Malcolm is following up on a complaint voiced by the AP's director of photography, Santiago Lyon, who argued in the New York Times,

The official photographs the White House hands out are but visual news releases. Taken by government employees (mostly former photojournalists), they are well composed, compelling and even intimate glimpses of presidential life. They also show the president in the best possible light, as you’d expect from an administration highly conscious of the power of the image at a time of instant sharing of photos and videos.

By no stretch of the imagination are these images journalism. Rather, they propagate an idealized portrayal of events on Pennsylvania Avenue.

More here.

One can argue whether such actions constitute "Orwellian image control," as Lyon believes, but there's no question that Team Obama's maniac attempts to keep control of the narrative is unsettling. And generally ineffective, if recent polls are any indication. Indeed, energy spent trying to keep tabs on who has access to take pictures of or write about the president drains resources away from actually addressing problems and policy screwups. Insularity tends to create defensiveness, which makes it all the more difficult to deal with, say, disastrous rollouts of

Speaking of transparency, take 50 seconds to watch this 2010 Reason TV gem about the "Real World: DC," which covers what happens when when Congress stops being polite...and starts secret, detailed negotiations on a sweeping, transformative health care reform bill...

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  • ||

    I'd call for a caption contest, but Nick already won it.

  • Andrew S.||

    We must've donated enough money last week to get alt text back!

  • UnCivilServant||

    So that's what the $50K anonymous check was for.

  • SugarFree||

    I'm not even going to try.

  • Slammer||

    It's a really strange photo. The door is OPEN, so the the view through the spy-hole is..the wall?


    For some reason this reminds me of the Beverly Hillbillies episode where Jethro wants to be a "double-naught spy" and sets up a two-way mirror, but can't figure out that he's on the mirrored side.

  • Slammer||

    Or, it's a strange piece of architecture if it's closed. The door frame hangs in a open space and not a wall. It's weird.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I think it's a case of "we couldn't get the lighting right with the door closed, and the public is too stupid to tell the difference".

  • UnCivilServant||

    And yes, it's open, you can see the top of the door frame above their heads. It almost blends into the ceiling, but there is a subtle difference in shadow.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Or that is a wierd ceiling.

    MC Esher Architects ltd.

  • Zeb||

    It could just be near a corner. You can't see the other side of the door frame.

    I really can't figure out why the picture is interesting or why the president would be looking through a little peep hole like that.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Okay I mistook the ceiling for the door frame, but to not see wall past the door would put it far closer to a corner than any door I've seen. I'd wager it's open.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Maybe it's a metaphor for the NSA.

  • R C Dean||

    I don't think an open door is really the metaphor for the NSA.

  • JEP||

    Can't you tell from the women laughing in the background that this photo is supposed to highlight how Obama is such a fun jokester?

    Oh, the pranks they must pull on each other in the White House. Their knees must be raw from all the slapping (and other things).

  • Brett L||

    Worse, he's looking through the wrong side, right? I mean otherwise he'd be up against the wall, unless the door opens out.

  • thom||

    I'm pretty sure the door opens out and he is looking down the hall.

  • db||

    Imagine the comments from the progs if the President pictured in this photo were GW Bush.

  • SugarFree||

    Obama is obviously trying to gauge the quality he could get if he made some more Erin Andrews' videos.

  • RishJoMo||

    lol, US politics. Best politics money can buy!

  • Sigivald||

    While I think it's amusing, and I think the "most transparent administration ever" isn't remotely so, I also don't think that "media taking pictures of the president on their terms and schedule" is either what anyone means by transparency or relevant outside of media hack circles.

    The transparency implicitly promised, and lacking, is transparency on operations and policies and process, not the President's face as he's on a plane and some random guy takes a picture of it.

    Who cares about that?


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