News Access Issues Concern Those Covering Obama

News organizations that cover the White House sparred with the Obama administration on Thursday over access issues for photographers and rules for briefings.

Representatives from Obama's press office held a conference call with photo editors, who are concerned that the administration prefers distributing photos taken by a White House photographer in cases where photojournalists have been permitted access in the past. It was unclear whether the two sides had reached any accommodation.

The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse refused to distribute photos taken by the White House of the new president on his first day in the Oval Office because of the dispute. Still photographers were also not given access to Obama's do-over oath of office administered Wednesday night by Chief Justice John Roberts and an economics meeting on Thursday.

Television network bureau chiefs also protested the exclusion of video cameras from the second oath of office.

"We're in an awkward phase and there will be bumps in the road," said Christopher Isham, CBS News Washington bureau chief. "Hopefully they will be speed bumps rather than obstacles."

Four reporters witnessed the oath of office and shared their observations with others, and a White House photo was released.

"We think it was done in a way that was upfront and transparent," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a briefing when questioned why video cameras were not present.

Pressed on the matter, Gibbs said, "we would have had to get a bigger room."

The Associated Press also questioned on Thursday why reporters were not allowed to use the names of administration officials giving a background briefing on issues regarding the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

Background briefings are hardly new in Washington, and were frequently conducted during the Bush and Clinton administrations. But the AP wanted to establish early with the administration that it's important to get information on the record as often as possible, said Michael Oreskes, managing editor for U.S. news.

"Information is a lot more valuable to the public if you know where it's coming from," Oreskes said. "So we try very hard in all source situations to identify sources as fully as we can."

Gibbs did not directly address the issue when asked about it later, saying that "I hope that you all found the exercise that we did the morning helpful."

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  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Jan 23, 2009 at 11:49 PM
    Wow, this man who has been turned by idiots into a mythic god like figure, is pushing his false divinity even further than I could have predicted. If you sheep don't pull your heads out soon this if going to become a fiasco of biblical proportions. Electing this cheap street hustler is going to be a mistake that we will pay for forever. The blog refluter wants to be ruled by the "one". How sad and pathetic.
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Jan 23, 2009 at 03:54 PM
    Blog Refuter; We are sour Republicans, but the double standard is loud and clear. Had any Republican President started limiting access the outcry would be deafening. With that said, I don't personally think any President needs to have 50 reporters and photographers documenting his every move from the time he leaves the bed in the morning until he gets back in it at night. The only reason this whole situation amuses me, is because the very people he is limiting access to are the ones that screamed the loudest and covered his indiscretions to get him elected. I find it VERY entertaining. If they had reported on him the same way they do any Republican, he probably would not be in the White House today. But he is, so that is that. If he keeps those flaming liberal press people at bay for the next four years, it will be interesting to see what happens in the run up to 2012. If I were President, their access would be extremely limited.
  • by Brad Location: Winterville on Jan 23, 2009 at 03:43 PM
    Buzz, Maybe obama did not want anyone to see that he did not use the Bible when he was sworn in the second time. Refuter, if you are the Christian you claim to be, how can you not question his decision not to use the Bible?
  • by Blog Refuter Location: NC on Jan 23, 2009 at 01:37 PM
    Oh the ploys of the sour Republicans...
  • by Buzz Location: Mbx on Jan 23, 2009 at 07:27 AM
    What he didn't allow access to the second oath of office, what could he have been hiding. Just more transparency, get used to it. Buzz-
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Jan 23, 2009 at 06:22 AM
    And the news media is suprised? Now this is change you can believe in. This way they can filter information about the truth just like Obama did during the campaign.

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