Milbank mocked White House spokesman Josh Earnest for saying, "There are certain circumstances where it is simply not feasible to have independent journalists in the room when the president is making decisions."
Though many pictures aren't about decision-making. They're positive propaganda photos. Milbank pointed to ones showing Barack and Michelle waving to a sea of people on the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King's march, with the Washington Monument in the background; Obama swimming with one of his daughters in the Gulf of Mexico to show the water has recovered from the BP oil spill; and Obama sitting alone on the Rosa Parks bus, in the same row Parks sat.
The Dec. 1 Times story on the media protest displayed a photo from July capturing the Obama family listening to a tour guide inside Nelson Mandela's old prison cell on Robben Island.
But other occasions that seem more like news events are closed off from news photographers, from the meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to one with inspirational Pakistani shooting victim and teen activist Malala Yousafzai. It's hard to imagine a liberal media photographer making anti-Obama hay out of those.
The White House also has its own videographers who create videos on his weekly activities with headlines from presidential statements, like the puke-tastic latest: "Kindness Covers All of My Political Beliefs."
How much does that sound like a People's Republic? Next he'll tell us to call him "Dear Leader."
This stonewalling explains why the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a report in October attacking Obama's record on transparency. "When you call the White House press office to ask a question or seek information, they refer us to White House websites," Chris Schlemon, Washington producer for Britain's Channel 4, told the organization. "We have to use White House website content, White House videos of the president's interviews with local television stations and White House photographs of the president."
Any media outlet could resist this trend by rejecting any (or even most) official White House photos and video. But no one is that rebellious. Obama's banking that the media's protests will fade and he can continue to build his legacy -- one propagandistic photograph at a time.
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