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Government The Media United States News Politics

Journalists Route Around White House Press Office 111

Tailhook writes Pool reports written by White House correspondents are distributed to news organizations via the White House Press Office. Reporters have alleged that the Obama White House exploits its role as distributor to "demand changes in pool reports" and has used this power to "steer coverage in a more favorable direction." Now a group of 90 print journalists has begun privately distributing their work through Google Groups, independent of the Press Office. Their intent is to "create an independent pool-reporting system for print and online recipients."
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Journalists Route Around White House Press Office

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  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @07:14AM (#48157797)
    If I were president, $#% like that wouldn't happen... I'd leave it all completely open - the thought of filtering news and coercing journalists is repulsive to me... But then that's one of the million reasons I'm not president and have never felt like there was a good candidate to vote for.
    • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @07:21AM (#48157821)

      But you can't that is the point. You will never know half of the presidents daily actions and descisions. Who don't want to know a lot of the stuff he has to know.

      Think of it like living on Twitter where you get bits and pieces of information and have to decide whether or not to act on 140 character sound bites. Whether the country goes to war depends on at best incomplete information.

    • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @07:33AM (#48157865) Homepage
      So you would run on a platform of "change" and "transparency"?
      You are not fooling anyone Obama.
      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @07:56AM (#48158017) Homepage Journal
        The problem is..the news agencies have been so complacent in all this all along too.

        If we had a more independent, and aggressive, investigative news agencies out there, Obama and other politicians (both parties) would not get away with half the shit they do.

        I think the news agencies should, in general, always view the administration at the time as somewhat adversarial, and should always be on the look for errors, law breaking and any hint of wrong doing. That should be their jobs, to constantly being on the heels of those in power, and keep them on their toes.

        When you lose true news investigation and reporting, you lose democracy....the free press is needed to keep the administration honest, and just parroting news feeds from whatever administration is in office does the country absolutely NO service, and can in fact, allow very bad things to happen to the country as a whole as well as to erode and harm citizens on a more personal level.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The problem is..the news agencies have been so complacent in all this all along too.

          The problem is the corporate media who has their own agenda to push.

          If we had a more independent, and aggressive, investigative news agencies out there, Obama and other politicians (both parties) would not get away with half the shit they do.

          You forgot informed, though that might come with aggressive and investigative, but I feel it's important to point out. Right now, it's like having an attorney who doesn't even call for an objection when the prosecutor engages in some outright illegal activity.

          I think the news agencies should, in general, always view the administration at the time as somewhat adversarial, and should always be on the look for errors, law breaking and any hint of wrong doing. That should be their jobs, to constantly being on the heels of those in power, and keep them on their toes.

          And then they run into the nitpicking problem. That can be a bit tough too. You have to have serious grievances, not continuous petty chatter from talking heads that means nothing.

          C

        • by nucrash ( 549705 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @09:01AM (#48158447)

          Sadly our current news media is ratings driven drivel. When your news outfits become purely profit driven, your quality doesn't have to be appealing, only your entertainment value. That is probably the largest marker of the decline of the United States. Often we hear about how the bread and circuses had to be maintained to keep the populace of Rome happy. As it turns out, our news media reflects a circus, and we have McDonald's and other fast food venues for our bread. While I support the legalization of marijuana, I feel that cheap thrills obtained by weed will most likely perpetuate this culture of bread and circuses.

        • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @10:05AM (#48159061)

          It's funny to watch the hypocrisy in this thread though. Bush did the same thing. In fact he took it a step farther. If you didn't tow Bush's line in the White House as a reporter they would ask for the reporter to be replaced in the pool and if the employer refused they would stop taking questions from the reporter, permanently. I can vividly remember people defending this behavior, many are the same ones that are slamming Obama for it.

          It's quite funny. Especially the ones that claim it's the worst thing the presidents office has ever seen.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Bush did it first! Bush did it first! Bush did it first!....seriously how fucking long can you parrot this shit?

            • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @11:21AM (#48160047)

              Bush did it first! Bush did it first! Bush did it first!....seriously how fucking long can you parrot this shit?

              For as long as people think that it will all be fixed by a Republican president.

              • Or that Obama is the worst president ever BS. Obama is no different than any of the past presidents. If anything he's more to the right of Clinton but he's still middle of the road, grow federal government, grow executive power, just like every president before him.

                • Yup, I pretty much completely agree. I also get annoyed, though not quite as much, by people who practically worship him. My overall opinion of him: Eh, he's a politician. He's a little better than Bush Jr, but that doesn't take much, and it's only on a few specific issues.
          • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @10:54AM (#48159661) Homepage Journal
            I'm not saying Bush didn't do it...I'm saying it has been getting progressively WORSE for all administrations starting at least with the last 3 of them...a real decline in independent and investigative journalism.

            I think they should stop allowing the President or other officials from "choosing" whom to get questions from in the pool...make it a random drawing who gets question 1, 2, 3....

            But has gotten progressively worse...and that means the current admin is about bottom of the barrel with respect to this...until the next admin....

            • So then we are in agreement it has nothing to do with the current president and everything to do with the broken system.
              • So then we are in agreement it has nothing to do with the current president and everything to do with the broken system.

                Close, but not quite...

                I think with Obama, we've hit a new low, and it has been an agenda pushed by them with veracity we've not seen with previous presidencies.

                • And, as you admit, it is getting steadily worse. This points more to a systemic problem than a specific person.
              • Yes, but so long as we also accept that the President is also the person who, as an individual, is most able to try and change the system.

        • by g01d4 ( 888748 )

          The problem is..the news agencies have been so complacent in all this all along too.

          Unfortunately complacency is thought to be the price paid for access. I'd think you'd want a full spectrum of coverage. Even in compliant interviews and pieces you can often glean interesting information reading between the lines.

          • Unfortunately complacency is thought to be the price paid for access. I'd think you'd want a full spectrum of coverage.

            I don't mind them reading the WH statements, but it is generally useless unless independent thought, and investigation accompanies it.

            The WH could just as easily post their scripts online for us to read...in which case, what use are the news agencies?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
      http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment [whitehouse.gov]

      SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

      My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

      Government sho

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      I'd leave it all completely open

      That's why you'll never be President; it's all about marketing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

      If I were president, $#% like that wouldn't happen...

      If I were president, I'd have a Playstation 4 in the Oval Office. And blow jobs. And I'd stay up all night watching reruns of '70s cop shows and would eat nothing but pie.

      Actually, that's kind of my life now, except for the blow jobs.

      • And blow jobs.

        It's been done. :-P

    • Of course there are going to be dozens of free speech comments, and how this is censorship and a terrible thing. But the reality is that the president gives these reporters unprecedented access to his daily life that he need not give them at all. From TFA:

      Carney told the pool reporter, David Nakamura of The Washington Post, that the workout was part of the first ladyâ(TM)s personal time and therefore off limits to reporters. Nakamura disagreed but reluctantly deleted the line to ensure that his report would be sent.

      If I were president, Mr. Nakamura would have no fricking clue when and where my wife was working out, and if people did not like that, they could kiss my ass.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tsqr ( 808554 )

        Lack of access to the First Lady's workout schedule is not what the people complaining about lack of transparency are upset about.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by idontgno ( 624372 )

          Lack of access to the First Lady's workout schedule is not what the people complaining about lack of transparency are upset about.

          Explicit counter-example was right in parent post. David Nakamura clearly was upset about the lack of transparency in the First Lady's workout schedule.

          I believe the next step is that you claim the cited example doesn't count, for reasons approximating "No True Scotsman".

          • No, "explicit" counter example is a strawman. No one seriously fucking cares about the first lady's workout schedule, that has no bearing whatsoever on the running of this country. That's not the kind of transparency we're talking about and you know it.
            • The GP is right, unfortunately. You want greater transparency on stuff that matters, but the GP has quoted a journalist indicating that their idea of transparency doesn't match yours, and this article is about what journalists want, not what you, me, Glenn Greenwald, etc, want.

              What you're - perhaps unintentionally - highlighting is itself interesting although something we've known for years that's illustrated perfectly by, say, Politico - modern political journalism is not about holding politicians to ac

              • What you're - perhaps unintentionally - highlighting is itself interesting although something we've known for years that's illustrated perfectly by, say, Politico - modern political journalism is not about holding politicians to account, it's about gossip, being in with the in-crowd, and confusing the public interest with what the media thinks the public are "interested" in.

                We're in agreement there, political journalism has gotten so yellow it looks like it's got a terminal case of jaundice. But when Obama stated his administration would be more transparent, it was in the context of the laws and executive orders he would sign/pass, the initiatives he would undertake regarding defense, the wars, the Patriot Act, the economy, and that's how most of us understood it. That's the important stuff of actual consquence. If the media wants to go all tabloid, that's on them, but I don

      • Great, so he can tell us all about his golf score, but cover up actually significant stuff, the political shannigans? - y'know, the shit that actually matters, like he'd said he'd do when he campaigned for office. The only ones who care about pointless handwaving personal details are the tabloids.
    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      Doesn't everyone realize Obama
      - bought the media or
      - they bought him or
      - a 3rd party bought them both?

      That's about the only transparent thing to come out of the joke of his presidency as far as I can tell. I saw it on day 1 when suddenly the front cover of the paper wasn't counting the soldiers who died in iraq 3+ days a week. Sure, there's been negative coverage - they can't just *skip* something like Snowden. But instead of harping on things they're quick to jump to some other (pointless) 'for the chil

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Various 3rd parties bought both of them. The media have been purchased by non-media companies over the last 5 decades. Prior to that they were mainly small, and most of them were always on the edge of failure, so it wasn't that expensive. (Actually, the three major media networks of the time, NBC, CBS, and ABC were already controlled by people whose interest was not in the news, except in a minor way. But at that time most cities had two daily newspapers, one of which was still independent. And most ra

    • If I were president, $#% like that wouldn't happen... I'd leave it all completely open

      I have no doubt that you are completely sincere about your feelings, but I suspect, if you were president, and anyway near competent and resposible, you would probably do exactly what all the others have done, more or less. Most of what any sensible leader does, is dictated by circumstances and whatever crap is left over from previous office holders. Just take the perennial question of that slightly parasitical, close friend of the US, Israel; several presidents have tried and failed to do anything about th

  • Control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @07:16AM (#48157801)

    The Internet perceives censorship as damage and routes around it. The tighter the control the more systems will slip through their fingers.

    Ooh how many more memes can this article produce?

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @07:26AM (#48157839)

    What did they imagine the White House Press Office was for? It's always been the tool that the White House uses to get whatever information it wants the press to report on out to reporters. It's not a service to the press to tell them everything THEY want to know about the government. Never has been. If they're not getting out the information that THEY want to report on, whose job is that?

    • Maybe because someone promised that this would be the "most transparent administration ever" and the whole way of doing business in Washington would "CHANGE"?

      I know, I know, only a moron would believe a politician (esp from Chicago), but apparently many did.

  • Summary: The White House puts their spin on news, like every other administration has.
  • by coastal984 ( 847795 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @07:32AM (#48157861) Journal
    After reading TFA, this is much to do about nothing. One piece of "news" requested by the White House to be removed included paring down an article of the President's visit on the "Tonight Show" based on an agreement with the show not to release too much about the content of the show before broadcast - a common show biz rule. Another was a line about the First Lady working out in a hotel gym, while another was a piece about the President honoring a retiring long-time White House journalist with a cake and a humorous quip. The only thing of possible substance here is the 4th mentioned report where a reporter had sour grapes about being left out of a photo op, and wrote a piece comparing his treatment to a freedom of the press speech the President had given days earlier.

    In fact, they quoted other reporters saying they've never had a problem, and have never been corrected besides "spelling and factual errors".

    What a sham post. Editors should be ashamed of themselves for trying to start a boiling political argument over nothing. Smells thickly of corporate motives, which is blatantly unacceptable.
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      The journalists position is that no censorship is acceptable.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Yeah, unless the military or "intelligence" are involved. Then they'll gladly self-censor. They're all info whores to someone.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Reading you sig warms my heart. Just knowing people like you will leave when the beta becomes active lets me know the a massive increase in post quality is coming.

      • by torkus ( 1133985 )

        Maybe in a perfect world.

        In reality...if they want to be inside the information loop of the White House they have to play ball. Sure, they can give them the finger and be cut out...left to second hand information...and fall behind in all the late breaking stories. They might get something unique, new, or otherwise not commented on once in a while but they're giving up the firehose for the garden hose...at best.

      • What censorship? Is anyone forced to submit/receive pieces only to/from the press office?

    • Benign details or not, why is my government in the business of reviewing benign news stories for distribution anyway? If these details are so "benign", what a helluva waste to have me paying some schmuck with my tax dollars to find spelling mistakes and a mini army to decide if a girl who fainted needs to be included in an article?

      If there is nothing "shady" about the government's role, I'm still happy to see it out of their hands. For one, they don't need to be in that business. Second, why put the h
  • Is that like a spooler? Who's managing the queue?
  • um... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Before everyone gets all uptight... actually check this story out. It's a bunch of hype.
    Full Disclosure: I don't like Obama, didn't vote for him, etc... Though I'm not a republican either.

    Reporters have alleged that the Obama White House exploits its role as distributor to "demand changes in pool reports" and has used this power to "steer coverage in a more favorable direction."

    Of course they did. Wouldn't you if you were president?

    On top of that, this is only for print journalists. All of the other Journalists (Cable/TV/Internet) already have external distribution systems to send this stuff out. This isn't an example of Whitehouse overreach. It's yet another example of Print Journalism being 30

    • by glennrrr ( 592457 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @08:15AM (#48158147)
      Well, apparently under this President it's gotten to the point where they've have to have a formal work-around. Perhaps partisans will jump in and say that under Bush a report was delayed for an hour because of an emergency, or some other lame precedent that will allow them to claim that "everybody does it," when no, everybody doesn't do it.
      • Well, apparently under this President it's gotten to the point where they've have to have a formal work-around. Perhaps partisans will jump in and say that under Bush a report was delayed for an hour because of an emergency, or some other lame precedent that will allow them to claim that "everybody does it," when no, everybody doesn't do it.

        No, everyone did do it. Print Journalists just finally fixed it. Then partisans on the republican side made a big fuss about it.

        To argue that Democrats are "more" evil than Republicans is laughable. They're the same party as far as any rational person is concerned.

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          "They're the same party as far as any rational person is concerned."
          Only if by 'rational' you mean 'Stupid'

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Geekoid: "My favorite flavor of kool aid is blue! Only the stupid dislike kool aid of any flavor."

        • "They're the same party as far as any rational person is concerned." I guess gay people wanting the legal protections or marriage, starving people wanting food, dying people wanting medical care, victimless "criminals" wanting to ingest a plant, and the poor wanting a safety net to keep them off the streets aren't rational people. Yep, both parties are totally the same.
  • by jratcliffe ( 208809 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @08:14AM (#48158137)

    Just to be clear, it's not as if all the reporters on the White House beat run all their work through the White House press office. This story is talking about material produced by the "pool." These are low-impact, run of the mill stories (President met with Cub Scouts, talked about importance of youth exercise, etc.) where it would be silly to have every news outlet cover them with their own reporter. So, the journalists on the White House beat rotate through the pool, one person (maybe this week it's the reporter from the Chicago Tribune) writes the story about the Cub Scout meeting, and it gets distributed to all the outlets. Essentially, it's a mini version of the Associated Press.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @08:50AM (#48158357)

    Sadly, I thought the Pres. was going to do this 5 years ago.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      I would actually look at whats going on. instead of these stories.
      Over all, this administration has been more transparent then any president in a while.
      For example: This press pool is about routine boring stories. Presidents meets with school teacher. Presidents gets a new cat, etc...

      • by laing ( 303349 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @09:55AM (#48158941)
        Yes, this administration has prosecuted more "leakers" than any before. This administration has ignored more FOIA requests than any before. This administration has delayed or ignored more congressional subpoenas than ever before. It's obvious that the Obama administration is more "transparent" than prior adminisrations. What is not obvious is the definition of transparency being referred to. I am seeing right through them.
        • Yes, this administration has prosecuted more "leakers" than any before.

          Actually, this Administration has prosecuted more than twice as many leakers as all other Administrations combined.

  • This article is posted under the "Style" section of the WaPo. A really slow news day or what?

    I'm also curious who this "group of 90 print journalists" actually works for. IMHO, in today's political climate after Citizens' United, every journalist is for hire.

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