At WH Request, Newspaper Censors Mildly Negative Sentence About Michelle Obama

May 3rd, 2011 6:17 PM

This White House faced strikingly little press criticism during the 2008 presidential campaign and through most of its first two years in office. So seldom is this White House meaningfully criticized in fact, that even the most mild jab apparently inspires backlash against the press.

Just last week it was revealed that a San Francisco Chronicle reporter was booted from the White House press pool for the crime of recording an anti-Obama protest with her smartphone. Then today, the Pleasanton Weekly, a small newspaper in Pleasanton, California, revealed that the White House had asked that the paper remove a passage it felt reflected poorly on First Lady Michelle Obama.

And, amazingly, the paper obliged. It removed the passage, saying it didn't want to make a "fuss." The White House is grateful for the self-censorship, I'm sure.

The passage in question dared to note that Mrs. Obama hadn't spoken with the pilots of Marine One in the reporter's presence, the Daily Caller reported on Tuesday:

In an email to The Daily Caller, Gina Channell-Allen, president of the Pleasanton Weekly in Pleasanton, California, said that her paper “received a call from the White House asking us to take out part of the story because it reflected poorly on the First Lady.”

The story in question was a soft feature about Marine One titled, “Inside Marine One, President Obama’s helicopter,” that ran in the paper on April 20. Pleasanton staffer Amory Gutierrez “didn’t get to ride in ‘Marine One,’” she wrote in her story, “but I did get the VIP tour and took photographs of the otherwise unseen aircraft.”

She also wrote a sentence that the White House thought made FLOTUS look snooty.

"Basically the reporter said that the First Lady didn’t speak to the pilots but acknowledged them by making eye contact," Allen wrote in her email.

Allen says she “complied” with the White House’s request “because it was not worth making a fuss over.”

She added, “I thought it was interesting, though, that the [White House] was concerned enough about image to contact a little weekly paper in Pleasanton.”