When the mainstream media, alternately faithful lapdogs, purring kittens, and revolving-door influence peddlers, get fed up with the White House, it’s probably not a policy issue. And it isn’t. There’s one thing that will get the White House press corps panties in a bunch faster than Sarah Palin being right—and that’s messing with their “journalistic independence”.
For many years, and through several administrations, the White House has coordinated “press pool” reports, as a service to the media, to cut down on the number of reporters who travel with the President at any given time, and the associated logistics. The Daily Signal reported on a WaPo piece last month alleging that the Obama White House sometimes holds pool reports or demands changes before releasing the reports for email distribution.
The “press pool” is supposed to be for the convenience of the press, and is essentially nothing more than a large email distribution list, where the White House is the fair dealer, and everyone gets access to the same stories. But Obama’s team feels so entitled to a special relationship with the press, that it can’t help but make suggestions, hold up stories or decide for itself what is “off the record”. For that, even the thoroughly domesticated MSM cries foul.
The decades-old White House press pool was created as a practical compromise between the news media and the nation’s chief executive: Instead of having a mob of journalists jostling to cover the president at every semi-public function, a handful of reporters are designated to act as proxies, or “poolers,” for the entire press corps. Poolers are chosen on a rotating basis from among regular White House correspondents, and they typically get more favorable access to presidential events to provide coverage that is shared with other reporters.
In response to the White House’s peeking at cards when it’s supposed to be the dealer, reporters have created their own system to distribute pool reports. Ain’t technology wonderful? They’re using Google Groups, which is way more efficient than the undoubtedly antiquated listserv-type systems the White House uses. From WaPo:
Nearly 90 journalists, all working for print media, are part of the Google Groups distribution — a small fraction of the estimated 8,000 people, agencies and organizations that receive the “official” pool reports sent out by the White House.
I can bet this alternative to the White House’s email distro-list will become very popular, but there’s still a snag, as pointed out by The Daily Signal. The White House controls the pool itself, handles scheduling, and security clearance coordination for the media, all at no cost. If the “press pool” were to become truly independent, they would potentially need to assume those functions at their own cost.
To circumvent the White House, the White House Correspondents’ Association would have to hire its own staff to perform these services, a decision currently under consideration by the organization.
There isn’t a single aspect of government that the Obama-ites in the West Wing won’t pervert to their own advantage, and for this mini-revolt of the press corps to occur, I can see the media is worried about retribution. They should be worried. After six years, it’s pretty obvious that the most transparent administration in history wants to control every story and compromise every news organization it can.
Sad they are just now figuring this out.