In a pants-on-fire moment, the White House press office today denied anyone there had issued threats to remove Carla Marinucci and possibly other Hearst reporters from the press pool covering the President in the Bay Area.
Chronicle editor Ward Bushee called the press office on its fib:
Sadly, we expected the White House to respond in this manner based on our experiences yesterday. It is not a truthful response. It follows a day of off-the-record exchanges with key people in the White House communications office who told us they would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all.
The Chronicle's report is accurate.
If the White House has indeed decided not to ban our reporter, we would like an on-the-record notice that she will remain the San Francisco print pool reporter.
I was on some of those calls and can confirm Ward's statement.
Messy ball now firmly in White House court.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Uh Oh. Looks like The White House has denied the SF Chronicle's claim that its political reporter, Carla Marinucci had been banned from pool reporting because she had posted a video she made at one of The One's fund raisers last week. Now, Phil Bronstein, the former Mr. Sharon Stone and the Chron's publisher, is saying the WH is (shudder) lying. This has officially become a beef.
Marinucci, it seems, was seen by the WH press office as a "print" reporter, so her act of using her phone to videotape the President - phones can make videos????!!!! - breached some kind of Eisenhower-era rule creating a church/state-style wall of separation between the ink-stained wretches and the network glamor boys. As Bronstein notes, this is a distinction without a difference nowadays, and an embarrassingly retrograde position for the supposedly hip "Facebook/Twitter" president to be taking.
Of course, the real problem wasn't Marinucci's stepping outside the lines. It was her posting the video in the first place. Naomi Pitcairn isn't quite at the Cindy Sheehan level of daffy presidential protest, but she certainly made Obama look uncomfortable for at least a couple of minutes. Marinucci wasn't the only person to post video from the fund raiser. Indeed, she did not post hers until after several other "regular" people had done so. But, a MSM outlet like the Chron, even in our Brave New Media World where everyone with an i-Phone and Blogspot account could conceivably report the news, can still spread a story faster and wider than 20 anonymous bloggers posting the exact same thing.
The White House isn't angry at Marinucci for violating some goofy Guild rule. They're angry because she reported an unflattering story about the president in his supposed liberal stronghold. Either way, they clearly think she is someone who has forgotten her place.