White House press secretary Jay Carney got an earful from a raucous briefing room on Thursday as reporters protested what they called needlessly restricted access to President Barack Obama.
“We are working and have been working on expanding access where we can,” Carney responded, but he created an even bigger uproar after he argued the issue was about distribution and not access in general.
The heated exchange comes a day after Associated Press photojournalist Santiago Lyon lambasted the White House over its “Orwellian” policy restricting photographers from arbitrary events the White House deemed “private.”
“Manifestly undemocratic, in contrast, is the way Mr. Obama’s administration — in hypocritical defiance of the principles of openness and transparency he campaigned on — has systematically tried to bypass the media by releasing a sanitized visual record of his activities through official photographs and videos, at the expense of independent journalistic access,” Lyon wrote.
The White House on Wednesday also released exclusive photographs of an Air Force One flight to Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in South Africa, which carried the president and first lady, former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Reporters pointed to the instance as a lost opportunity for official press pool photographers who were not admitted on the flight.