He's not alone. A New York Times photographer has publicly compared Team Obama to the Soviet Tass news agency. What is going on?
As the wheels come off the Barack Obama Hope-and-Change Bus, the White House is now restricting access to the very media that have done little but throw roses at the president's feet for the last five years. Many presidential "photo opportunities" now only allow official White House photographers, causing the media to stir with "tensions" and write letters of protest.
"Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the president while he is performing his official duties," the White House Correspondents' Association and other news organizations wrote in a letter to Press Secretary Jay Carney. "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."
All of which begs the question: Why? Can anyone recall the last time a news photographer has taken a photo of Obama that's caused him embarrassment? Apparently, Obama isn't satisfied that the photos aren't hostile. They have to make him look good -- or he'll have his guy do it.
The New York Times reports that Obama photographer Pete Souza is an "almost constant companion" of the president. He was even allowed to get married in the White House Rose Garden. Of the 315 trips Obama has made on Air Force One, Souza has traveled on 313, according to the count of CBS news hound Mark Knoller. Souza posts his photos on Twitter, Flickr and Instagram shortly after he takes them, and news agencies run these official pictures as "news." As the media's protest letter points out, "You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases."
The most famous visual press release was the White House Situation Room photo of Obama and his top aides watching the takedown of Osama bin Laden in 2011. It was airbrushed to obscure a classified document next to Hillary Clinton, which raises the next question: Has Souza retouched other pictures? He claims he hasn't, but with today's crackerjack technology, it's hard to tell -- or believe him.