White House Bans Reporters from Shouting Questions to President Obama

July 13th, 2011 4:30 PM

Despite the fact that the White House press corps is comprised mostly of members who are ardent liberal Democrats who want to see President Obama triumph over Republicans, it has grown increasingly clear that the feeling of respect is not mutual.

The White House made that apparent today by laying down a new rule for reporters covering Obama's news conferences there: No more shouting questions at the president.

While the shouting practice has long been a tradition of presidential press conferences, Obama's staff, as Politico reports, has often used "still sprays" to exclude print and TV journalists who might capture Obama snubbing an unexpected query or being forced to answer an unscripted question.

When Carney was asked why these reporters were barred from the group covering the deficit meeting between the White House and congressional leaders, he responded that there had already been two press conferences in the past two weeks that allowed TV cameras, during which time, "People shouted questions at [Obama]."

The strict policy has riled up many reporters. As Politico explains,

The White House Correspondents’ Association has protested exclusion of print and TV from pools — and several reporters in the briefing room took Carney’s comment as an annoyed expression of presidential displeasure with shouted questions.

“It's an absurd reason to say that because we asked questions you're not going to allow cameras in there. He's capable of ignoring our questions. He does it all the time,” said Chip Reid of CBS.


It didn’t end there. “Can I ask you to clarify — there's no reporters allowed in today's meeting because reporters misbehaved?” asked another scribe. “Earlier it sounded like you were punishing us.”

Carney, who used to sit in the same seats as these journalists as a White House reporter for Time magazine, dismissed the reporters by saying "the president has taken questions quite a lot lately, as you know, and so he's not taking questions today. He may tomorrow. Or he may later, you know, but today, we're just doing a still spread, which is not unprecedented."

For an administration that promised to be the most transparent in history, blocking reporters from press events does not bode well in its favor.