WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Obama Administration Puts Squeeze on Reporters

Sep 30, 2014

The Shop Talk panelists discuss the troubling trend of the White House trying to control the stories written by journalists.

The Washington Post reported that journalists who cover the White House say Obama’s press aides demanded — and received — changes in press-pool reports before the reports were 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 Post said the administration’s actions prompted the White House Correspondents’ Association to consider revising its approach to pool reporting.

Shop Talk panelist Rich Egger said most of the changes demanded by the White House involve minor details.  But he said such demands are taking news coverage down a slippery slope. 

He also wondered if politicians are becoming such control freaks because any little incident can get blown out of proportion – for example, the salute given by the president while he held a coffee cup in his hand.

Rich Moreno agreed that the White House’s actions could set a dangerous precedent. He also said President Obama has held fewer news conferences than other presidents and he rarely holds non-scripted events. 

Jasmine Crighton pointed out many newsrooms are understaffed and underfunded, which leaves them vulnerable to accepting reports from outside sources that might want to control the message. And she feels many media corporations are okay with that – it saves them the trouble and expense of sending a reporter.