Obama Administration

Most Transparent Administration Ever Demands Edits to Reports Filed by White House Press Pool



One of the ongoing sub-narratives of the Obama administration is how incredibly unfriendly it has been to the press.

Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson described the Obama White House as "the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering," specifically noting her time covering Reagan and George W. Bush.

Times national security reporter James Risen said earlier this year that the current administration was "the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation," and suggested that the administration threatens reporters who do not pursue acceptable stories. 

Reporters should feel threatened by the administration's behavior. The administration has captured phone logs from Associated Press reporters, and tracked calls, emails, and location information about a senior Fox News reporter. It's pursued a record number of criminal leak investigations. 

And, according to The Washington Post, it has also sought to edit pool reports from White House press.

Journalists who cover the White House say Obama's press aides have demanded — and received — changes in press-pool reports before the reports have been disseminated to other journalists. They say the White House has used its unusual role as the distributor of the reports as leverage to steer coverage in a more favorable direction.

The disputed episodes involve mostly trivial issues and minor matters of fact. But that the White House has become involved at all represents a troubling trend for journalists and has prompted their main representative, the White House Correspondents' Association, to consider revising its approach to pool reporting.

The incidents noted in the story are generally pretty trivial: One reporter was asked to remove a mention of Michelle Obama's workout, another to delete details of Obama presenting a longtime reporter with a candle-lit dessert on her final trip with the president, another to delete an early account of an Obama appearance on "The Tonight Show" because the White House believed it violated a publicity deal with the show. (Somehow I doubt the reporter had a similar agreement.)

But even minor attempts to alter pool reports should be taken seriously. The White House has no right to change the reports, no right to edit or interfere with the work of independent journalists before publication. 

And the White House has also pushed at least one reporter to change his story in order to remove an unflattering comparison of two Obama events. Back to the Post:

During the same trip, then-deputy press secretary Josh Earnest flagged another of [Post reporter David] Nakamura's reports. This one contained a comment juxtaposing a speech Obama had given two days earlier lauding freedom of the press with the administration's decision to limit access to presidential photo ops on the trip.

Earnest, who succeeded Carney as press secretary in May, considered Nakamura's comparison unfair and asked him to take it out, according to Nakamura. After an argument, the reporter acquiesced.

It's almost too perfect: The Obama administration doesn't like being portrayed as unfriendly to the press, so its press office decides to stop a journalist from suggesting in a report that it is. 

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  1. Didn’t Journalism 101 teach that reporters should not be lapdogs for the people in power?

    1. “Is THIS gonna be on the test?”

      /journo “student”

      1. Let’s use the term very loosely.

        The only ones I respect are the investigative ones who do a thankless job.

        Don’t get me going on sports journalists.

    2. As if Journalism students showed up for their freshman classes. They weren’t actually paying attention until Journalism 422: Selling Out

    3. Only when Republicans are in power.

      When Democrats are, it’s full lapdog.

  2. Look, we believe in free speech, as long as it’s ‘good’ free speech. Therefore:

    ‘greatest threat to press freedom in decades’ = FAIL!

    ‘most transparent administration in history’ = ‘Invite to private parties with the stars at Whitehouse’

    /Obama admin

    1. There is no truth except the revolutionary truth, comrade.

  3. I’d love to be that reporter.

    *submits new copy*

    “Josh Earnest, tyrannical douchebag insisted that the White House believes different”

  4. But, of course, the press will not tear their tongues out of Obama’s ass long enough to do anything about it. They’re like the most pathetic girlfriend you’ve ever seen – their boyfriend treats them like complete garbage, yet they can’t get enough of it.

    1. But he doesn’t mean it!

    2. They’re like the most pathetic girlfriend you’ve ever seen – their boyfriend treats them like complete garbage, yet they can’t get enough of it.

      Microaggression! Blaming the victim!

  5. Isn’t the press usually one of the first victims of tyranny?

    1. Unless they’re willing participants like Pravda.

      1. Well, I think many of them are willing, but only willing because they’re being threatened and are afraid of losing their cushy jobs.

  6. “One of the ongoing sub-narratives of the Obama administration is how incredibly unfriendly it has been to the press.”…

    And how the press rolls over for a belly-scratch.

    1. I have an idea that if the next administration is Republican, it will be significantly more open to the press than Obama’s.

      And what will the press say about that?

  7. Earnest, who succeeded Carney as press secretary in May, considered Nakamura’s comparison unfair and asked him to take it out, according to Nakamura. After an argument, the reporter acquiesced.

    What a fucking spineless weasel. Seriously, how does Nakamura look at himself in the mirror?

    1. I can’t imagine how that conversation didn’t end with “Fuck off”.

      1. And you know it will only worsen — on both sides — if Hillary gets crowned.

        Reporters like Nakamura should start looking for recipes with a lot of shit in them. Ah, here’s the perfect gift!


    2. If he’s like Bob Woodward, he’s an Obama supporter “at heart” and wants to help the administration.

      1. Can’t play into the hands of the evil “Rethugs”.

  8. I sincerely believe that the reason the Obama administration is so hostile to the press, is because the press is/has/was so sycophantic in their support of it.

    So when a given press agency or journalist does, on the rare occasion, ask some tough questions, the administration becomes indignant at the audacity of the inquiry. I believe the administration sees any press intrusion as a failure of loyalty.

  9. They just want to be sure the American people hear the TRUTH, and not some FOXNOOZE anti-government propaganda hit piece.


      Racist dog whistle!

  10. “After an argument, the reporter acquiesced.”

    There’s your problem right there.

  11. Obama Administration: “Baby, you know I do it because I love you, right? Sometimes you just make me so crazy with those things you say, I just can’t help it.”

    Press: “We know, we know. We’ll be better, we promise.”

    1. “Now you won’t press charges, right honey”?

      /evil grin.

  12. Those goddam Rethuglitards caused this. If only Comrade Obama knew…

  13. Fuck everyone of those spineless cunts. How hard is it to say “No, Fuck you. I wouldn’t do it for Bush and I’m not doing it now.”

  14. Obama shows every indication of being a narcissist. So it’s not surprising that he would interpret anything less than fawning praise as a personal attack and instruct his minions to respond accordingly.

    1. ^^^Yup, this douchebag is the definition of narcissist, it’s pretty pathetic watching it play out and leaves one to wonder about our continued viability as a nation.

  15. And yet every member of the mainstream press continues to line up, waiting and hoping to gargle Obama’s brown nappy sack.

  16. “Mr. Nakamura. You really don’t want me to set up that meeting for you with agent Sadist from the I.R.S., do you?

    And that dinner you had with that young intern…. we have pictures”

  17. I just read a great article about the undoing of Gary Hart. In it the NY Times reporter says since that moment in 1990 the press has treated every candidate as “I know you’re lying”, and then follows that with it is the reporter’s job to find out where, and what is the truth.

    Only now, somehow with Obama, it is to be on the good side of him, rather than the bad.

    Maybe they’ve just good good instincts.

  18. And yet it took these people six years to figure out they were being played?

    Not the brightest bulbs on the porch, are they?

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