Another presidential speech, another fight over press access to it.
Some member of the White House press corps were annoyed that the White House treated last night’s speech on Afghanistan like a speech from the Oval Office, with all the limits that come with it, when it was actually given from the roomier East Room, the AP reports.
In past East Room speeches, reporters, photographers and other television cameras have been allowed in to cover the event, while Oval Office speeches typically bar print reporters and still photographers to minimize distractions. Last night, access was limited to just one print pooler and one still photographer.
But this is nothing new: the Obama administration has slowly choked off press access to White House activities and substituted its own coverage, as this ABC report (headlined “Obama’s Media Machine: State Run Media 2.0?”) noted recently:
As the 2012 presidential campaign kicks into gear, President Obama’s White House media operation is demonstrating an unprecedented ability to broadcast its message through social media and the Internet, at times doing an end-run around the traditional press.
The White House Press Office now not only produces a website, blog, YouTube channel, Flickr photo stream, and Facebook and Twitter profiles, but also a mix of daily video programming, including live coverage of the president’s appearances and news-like shows that highlight his accomplishments.
They include: Advise the Adviser: Your Direct Line to the White House; Open for Questions: The State of the Union and Health Care; and West Wing Week, a “magazine-style show featuring the president behind the scenes.”
And before you dismiss all that as just another federal government moneypit, consider this:
The White House has amassed 1.9 million followers on Twitter, 900,000 fans on Facebook and averages 250,000 visits to its YouTube channel per month. Its website received roughly 1.1 million unique visitors in January, according to ComScore
The White House isn’t just end-running the news media. It’s trying to replace it.
That should alarm every segment of the political spectrum. And every mainstream media outlet.
Except it isn’t.