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White House press corps revolts against image control

The North Lawn of the White House
The North Lawn of the White House
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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Yesterday, USA Today became the latest major media outlet to boycott photos officially issued by the White House. The paper joins the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) and 37 other media outlets, including The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, ABC, CBS, and Fox News, in protest.

In a letter sent to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney last Thursday, the WHCA board decried the Obama Administration’s policy of banning photographers from covering the president at certain events, only to have official White House photos of those very same events released later.

The letter continues, “As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government.” 

It’s not uncommon for the White House to bar photojournalists from covering the president, but the WHCA claims that previous administrations have have granted greater access than the current administration.

Is the Obama Administration’s approach to image control overly restrictive? Can the photo ban actually amount to a policy change by the White House? Do you care to see photographs of the president other than those issued officially?

Jeremy Mayer, Associate Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University